Monday, April 25, 2005

Okay, so I waited so long that I got busted!

Dorian's case manager called this morning to learn just why that call had never been made. She was doing followup as all good case managers should -- but suddenly I was in tears! All of the resistance that got bottled up behind my eyes now spilled in a non-stop rush of self-pity. How could we be asked to do this again, after all these years? Hadn't I lived out this separation many years ago, and why on earth should those aches be still so fresh and renewable as if I'd sent her away for the first time only yesterday?

It was obvious that this professional understood. I owned up to having "lost" that critical phone number and that I'd done nothing about investigating the new home, and she went on as though I'd said nothing -- as if this was not a new situation at all for her -- and that we would surely grow beyond the setback. It felt better. After some questions from me and answers from her to re-acquaint me with this housing opportunity, I was back in the saddle and ready to take some notes and make the calls.

What I learned this morning may have been what touched off my attack of resistance in the first place. The group home being recommended was situated in an area of the city that I know well from my work as a state representative. It has a somewhat dark reputation for safety and was isolated. The home was one for seniors so would be less than ideal for Dorian and her level of abilities and interests. She's interested in competitive athletics and visual arts and is used to more freedoms than I'm guessing she would have in a privately-operated group home. Maybe that's what sent me into limbo ... .This time I heard the words fully and my resistant had now found a home. My reactions had been instinctive, but now I realized that they have some foundation in reality.

If we're going to think of her next home as one where she would be living with elders rather than people more in keeping with her mental age (something I guess I've tried to give her), then some re-thinking needed to occur. She's far more like an late adolescent than an elder. There has obviously been significant growth over time. At one time she was far more like a child. Haven't given that much thought until now. I have no idea how she would be affected by being suddenly tossed into the life of a senior without having had the time to grow herself through mid-life. Maybe the system is not designed in ways that can allow for an orderly progression through time for the retarded. Maybe the system has to skip necessarily over this in its need to provide the best for the many and whatever it can for the few. Something to ponder ... .

That being so, I will now make the trip to visit the recommended group home (about which I am surely unenthusiastic) for the sake of simply being able to say that I'd done so. Then -- I'll give myself some time to think hard about how to weave us through the problem presented by that last paragraph -- there's something important here for which there has been little or no preparation. But my intuition has rarely led me astray, and the burial of that phone number had some hidden meaning that will surely be revealed over the next hours, days, or weeks.

I've about decided that a group home with seniors may not be appropriate, but an apartment in a complex for seniors may be quite adequate. There's one nearby; HUD-developed and quite nice. Eligibility requires that one be 55, I believe, still a ways off for Dorrie, but there are some tenants who have younger family members living with them. The head-of-household must be at least 55, I believe. She would be less than a block away -- still within walking distance of the mall that she loves, still eligible for transportation to and from NIAD, and with no need to give up possession of her much-loved and well-cared-for (2) cats.

There is a lovely little lake just at the bottom of the hill with occasional ducks to watch. It is a favorite dumping ground for feral cats who are fed daily by benevolent cat lovers who live in that complex.

I think that I've been rescued for the moment. At least I now understand better why I was so torn, and just why I couldn't make that call.

So saying, I'm off now to visit the not-quite-right group home, and then to learn what I can about that senior housing complex just across the way from here. I'm not sure that I can get them to make the exception to the age requirement, but her case manager may be able to handle that.

There is always some logical reason why, isn't there?

Betty the Seer

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