It broke my heart every day to realize the loss of personal dignity, and sense of independence taken from my parents. When they described life in the nursing home as being "kept imprisoned" it was the day I finally broke down and cried. Yet, I knew the nursing home was decent. I had traveled great distances to visit over that year. The place was clean, but noisy. The staff people, for the most part, were compassionate, though hurried.
But, I could see my parents point. I thought it was like prison, too. I made it a point to call them everyday to listen, to see if there were things I could mail to them, discuss the good old days, and to update them on their kitties. Yet, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough for them.
So, their kitties began to send them cards and letters every day to cheer them, (well, I wrote on their behalf) in which they described their lives exploring their new home, getting acquainted with the Old Lady cat who already lived here, and their adventures in the new neighborhood.
As my parents settled into their new life, still the stressful inconveniences bothered them. But finally, they began to relax a bit and accepted the routine of where they were. The daily phone calls became more pleasant, (less complaining and unhappiness) and every new Kitty Letter they received brought them joy, gave them things to talk about, encouraged other fun things their cats had done in the past. They looked forward to every day. I was lightly scolded when they didn't get them "on time".
Three days before Dad died, I brought two kitty letters with me to deliver in person. My Dad, in hospice care because of a brain stem stroke from five months before, carefully opened the envelopes, shakily unfolded the pages, and read aloud in his slurred whisper to my mother, the latest news from their kitties.
With family members all gathered together, even among all the heart wrenching stress, those last days have been some of the most precious of my life.