The Next Bed

“Hello?” my mom says.

“Hi, Mom!” I always try to sound excited whenever I call.

“Oh, hi Beth,” she says. Then she turns away from the phone, and I hear her say, in a whisper, “It’s my daughter.”

“Who are you talking to, Mom?”

“Oh, just the nice lady in the bed next to me,” she says.

“Do you want to keep talking to her?”

“Oh… no, that’s okay. I’ll talk to you for a little while,” she says, sounding not quite as excited as she usually does when speaking with me. Seems she’s making friends.

I’m so glad she’s finding a place for herself at Hebrew Home. Still, I’m feeling a twinge of sadness because she appears to need me just a little less.

I’m like a parent who, with mixed emotions, watches her child grow up, become more independent, and leave her behind. But I have to remind myself my mom’s not maturing, learning how to make her way in the world. She’s preparing to leave it, or to enter a different world, one that may not have a place for me, or anyone else who’s real, in it.

But she hasn’t left us yet.

“Why don’t you call me tomorrow night?” she says, five minutes into our conversation. There’s a real person sitting right next to her, and she wants to talk.

About daughter3

My mom has Alzheimer's disease. She's 91 and lives in a nursing home. She has three daughters. I'm her youngest.
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7 Responses to The Next Bed

  1. Denise Duralek says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience Beth. 🙂

  2. Well, that was an unexpected plot twist. Fascinating. And heart-breaking. And wonderfully written, as always, Beth. Thank you for writing.

    Michael Hanko


  3. Barbara Glickstein says:

    Yes, those mixed emotions push and pull us with our aging parents with dementia. Every day a journey that teaches us so much about ourselves. Glad your Mom has a new friend.

  4. JodiMelsness says:

    Beth, your Mom is so much like mine. You capture my thoughts too. ❤


  5. Laura Stein says:

    Thank-you Beth for the insightful and sad/happy/funny post.

  6. Diane says:

    Gosh, whats happening in your life is happening in mine. My mum is nearly 84 which may sound really old but she is still my mum yet Alzheimer’s is slowly destroying her. She was diagnosed over 4 years ago and my sisters and I had to take the painful heartbreaking decision to move her into a Nursing Home about 6 weeks ago. It was traumatic but the truth is it was no longer safe for her to live alone even with the care package in place – my dad died well over 10 years ago. Sadly but amazingly what’s been happening in yours and your moms lives has been happening in ours. Thank you for sharing your life situation with so many of us victims of Alzheimer’s. In some way, although so sad as it is, it helps to know how others are coping with this unstoppable disease. You are so right, we have to accept it and adjust to the “new” person our moms/mums are becoming even though I still find it hard to believe that my mum has Alzheimer’s.

    • daughter3 says:

      Thanks for your comment, Diane. I’m so sorry you and your family are going through this. When my sister and I first moved my mom out of her home and into assisted living (about three years ago), we had a difficult time. I felt tremendous guilt about taking her out of her home and taking her life away from her — but the truth was that it was the Alzheimer’s that was robbing her of her life, not me and my sister. This past November, we had to move her from assisted living and into a nursing home. In the U.S., a nursing home is the ultimate — or the low point, depending on your perspective — in institutional care (people still have a level of freedom and responsibility in assisted living). I knew she would have to go eventually; I just didn’t realize it would happen as soon as it did. The first month or 6 weeks were the hardest; she was miserable, and I worried that I had chosen the wrong place for her. But things have improved dramatically, and she’s adjusted really well. I hope your mum does, too. It’s very hard to see them change so much and to lose so much of who they were. Every day, I just hope my mom is as happy as she can be, and I’m fortunate that she is not (yet) one of the people who becomes emotionally tortured by this disease. I hope the same for your mum.

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