It was a hard decision to make, but the family finally agreed. Grandpa’s level of care requirements were greater than the family could sustain without disrupting their own lives. Making this kind of decision is tough; it makes you feel as if you’re callous, placing the importance of your own happiness above that of your parent, despite all the sacrifices they made for you in life.
So the family put a lot of time into finding the retirement center that offered the cleanest facilities, the most varied menu, the most interactive social environment, the most structured activity schedule, the friendliest staff, and the most tender-hearted caregivers. It was no trivial selection.
The day came that Grandpa was to move in to Happy Valley Retirement Center, and all the family came out. There were third cousins twice removed, and great-aunts by marriage on the father’s side, and grandchildren down to the great-great-great level. It was an atmosphere of celebration, and everyone wanted Grandpa to know they still cared. But eventually they all left, and it was just Grandpa and the staff.
One of the staff members noticed that Grandpa was leaning to the right in his wheelchair. “Here, let me prop you up with this pillow, sweetheart,” she said as she straightened his posture.
But then he started to lean to the left. “Well, sugar, now you’re falling over the other way! Let me get you another pillow.” And she put a pillow on his left side, wedging him in the wheelchair so he would remain upright.
Grandpa sat there a few minutes, then slowly started to slide forward in his wheelchair. “Oh my,” said the nurse, “We’re going to have to do something to make sure you don’t fall out and hurt yourself.” She went and got a restraining strap that, like a seat belt, would keep Grandpa upright and safe.
The next day, the family came to check on Grandpa. They were sure he would be pleased with his new living arrangement and all the attention the staff would shower on him. “How are you liking Happy Valley, Grandpa?” they asked.
“I HATE IT!” he declared loudly.
“Well, it’s clean, your room is nice, You’re getting good meals. What’s wrong?”
“It’s the staff. They’re mean to me. They’re trying to torture me.” he said.
“What are you talking about, Grandpa?”
Grandpa pointed to the pillows and the strap holding him securely in place, “They won’t let me fart!”