Caregiver’s Diary: My New Life In Ontario

Now that my widowed 88 year old father has settled into his new retirement residence, he has taken up writing a journal, something he always sent us from whatever small town my parents had moved to. I’m going to let Dad tell his story, unvarnished and unedited.

“It is 9.20 pm on Monday, January 16th, 2012.  Tomorrow, I shall have been a resident of the Serenity Towers Retirement Residence for one month, and I have resolved to write a journal for family and friends on a regular basis so that you will come to know what life holds in store for you in octogenarian old age.  Some of you may not reach the eighty mark, in which case you will be missing a whole new life experience.  Capacity at Serenity Towers is 120, but there are only about seventy odd inmates, of whom sixty are women.  They seem to be living longer than men.  I was told that the developer of Serenity Towers is the Reichmann family, who can afford to support the under-capacity for some time. (They’re building them for us, not for Dad – younger son)

The preponderance of women is a mixed blessing.  At mealtimes, I am usually at a table with three or five women.  Because of my hearing problem, I can usually converse only with my immediate neighbours.  Most respect this disability, but often, a neighbour will prattle away, and I’m not hearing a bloody thing.  The best thing I can do is nod, in apparent agreement with what is being said.

But back to the beginning.  Youngest sister has been a godsend.  Not only did she fly down to the Maritimes to organize my departure therefrom but she drove most of the way to Ontario through very bad weather conditions and we arrived at the Serenity Towers at the same time as our movers. She supervised the placement of all of my furniture and then hung up all my pictures. She has arranged appointments with doctors, dentists, Veterans Affairs, hearing people and has kept a watchful eye on me all the time in addition to inviting me to her home for wonderful meals.

My suite is very comfortable.  Younger brother and youngest brother have seen it.  There’s a large living room with windows to a southern exposure.  I’m on the sixth (top) floor.  A den which houses my desk, filing cabinet, computer, printer, copier and keyboard, a bright bedroom, and a huge bathroom, (compared to my little closet in the Maritimes).  Youngest sister hung the big, full length mirror in the bathroom, so I can view my  skinny body  and hope to gain weight quickly.  I started at 140 lbs, and am now up to 146.4. Heeding her advice, I did not bring the chesterfield, but just two chairs, the plush red one and the wooden rocker which oldest brother wants, plus the nice red rug.  It’s a very comfortable apartment, and I might even have a cocktail party soon.  Except that I can never remember names, and I would have difficulty in making a guest list.

I’ve discovered two little shopping malls down the road which I can drive to without awkward turns.  The Bank and the Liquor Store are in the same mall. Today, I stocked up on the booze, and the parcel was so heavy, I almost dropped it coming back from the car.  I am probably creating the image of an enfant terrible.  Yet, I am enjoying my role as a booze hound.  The other day, my lunch companions were a mother (thinking of moving in) and her daughter.  At one point, the daughter pronounced that she never danced, with such evangelical zeal as to alert my antennae to a holy roller, so within two minutes I pronounced that I had been to the bank and the liquor store yesterday.  What fun!

These are the musings of an eighty-eight year-old fart who still has most of his marbles, Thank God, many of the men here have lost theirs.  One of these is from Niagara, also his second wife, who sounds Dutch and is probably from the Mennonite community there. It was amusing to discuss people whom we both knew; me from a social view and she from a cleaning lady’s view.  Serenity Towers is by no means a refuge for the idle rich.  Younger brother tells me that he has researched the joint and says there are no subsidies for the less affluent, but that pensions for civil servants are substantial.  In fact, there are two retired policemen and two ex-firemen among the inmates.

From all accounts, Serenity Towers is by far the best retirement community in the Niagara peninsula. I had dinner at younger sister’s on Sunday; her father-in-law and mother-in-law were there and as father-in-law is becoming increasingly immobile, mother-in-law is considering Serenity Towers for them both.  There are two bedroom units with large bow windows and excellent views.

Youngest sister is going on a run tomorrow and will end up here to borrow my car for a trip.  I shall ask her to set me up to send this first issue of my journal to family.

With all my love,  Dad”.