Bernie and Bernadette Doodle, the ambassadors

Sal’s mom is moving into an assisted care home. I think the name is SIxfloorsofhell…..(but it’s spelled differently, of course). Think: incarceration that you pay dearly for.

Still, it is well run and pleasant as prisons go. The matron-at-arms is quite formidable (in an Ernest Borgnine/Brian Dennehy kinda way) and her militant minions are her all-too willing gestapo. No one gets into the building without first registering at a separate and secured vestibule, being interrogated as to their intentions, being ID’d with the obligatory photo ID and……… it also has to match your valid Covid proof-card. Then they buzz you in. I half expected the matron to scream, “Get on the ground! Get on the ground NOW!!!

I have been there five times over the move this week and each time is like visiting a serial killer at Rikers.

I read the rule book (almost as lengthy as War and Peace) and noted that pets were allowed to visit. I was gonna test that……

Today, I brought Gus and Daisy (all 200 pounds of big, black curly dog) in. The moment they arrived, the staff melted. Shrieks, laughter and aaahs and ooohs filled the air. Gus and Daisy licked everyone and jammed their noses into places unjammed for decades. More shrieks. Old people gathered all presumably wanting to be sniffed and jammed, too. The entry foyer must have had twelve people all ‘loving the dogs’. It was semi-erotic, canine bedlam for a bit.

Ironically, the residents are allowed to have dogs live in and several do. I’ve seen them. Barely. They are all tiny (rules require 5kgs or less) and could fit almost entirely in Gus’s mouth. Gus and Daisy were dogs of a bygone era for these folks. The little dogs coming and going are either ignored or just not seen (no one has great eyesight or hearing). But it is impossible not to see Gus and Daisy.

Then I introduced G&D to the elevator. That went well but only because I am stronger. Ten more pounds on each of them and/or ten more years on me and that will no longer be true. A brief wrestling match later, we were going up to the fifth floor and they had adjusted to the physical sensations of being trapped in a box but moving upwards. And then they were ushered into the 350 sft ‘residence’ of which they and their tails occupied at least 25% of the walkable area. Gus and Daisy are adjusting pretty well to the pastel prison.

I am not. I feel claustrophobic. I feel trapped, regulated, supervised and managed, tolerated and endured. And I am just talking about being here in Victoria with Sally!!

Sal has a lot on her plate helping her mom, managing the move, being a good daughter and dog owner all in a place that is NOT her own castle and, when that happens, Tinkerbelle morphs into Atilla-the-honey. Still sweet, freakishly focused.

That’s OK. The dogs get handled. Mom gets handled and all the details of a life move get handled. Being tolerated and endured speaks volumes to the bond of our marriage. And the supervision and management part really only shows up as me lifting and carrying and doing dishes – just like home!

This modern facility makes it much, much worse for me, tho. I could do it. I could live here. I could even rent a 5kg dog by the week. But I would check in on a Monday and it would be the last Monday I would ever see. Either the matron tasers me, the cops shoot me or I do a swan dive off the fifth floor. This no way to live.

14 thoughts on “Bernie and Bernadette Doodle, the ambassadors

  1. My elderly parents fought the “assisted living” tooth and nail.
    They could NOT function on their own.
    Dad was incontinent and crapped everywhere at any time..
    Mom blind and both suffering memory loss.
    They finally made the move but (luckily) my sister was there to deal with the doctor appointments, groceries, drug store prescriptions, etc etc etc.
    Step dad loved the attention but he always talked about the cost..
    Mom hated it.
    She b!tched non stop for 3 years .
    The food, the cleaning, the staff, the patients, on and on and on.
    $250 per day EACH and then as they got worse, moved to a lock down ward for even more money.
    The other patients were mostly mentally gone.
    The staff were ok but didnt really give a sh!t. Its a job.
    100k per year ….each.
    They both died peacefully in the last year.

    Living in one of those places…..drooling porridge…..filling my diaper….
    No thanks.


    • I have a fairly strong will to live…it’s been tested a few times. But I do not have a will strong enough to endure this for very long. It ain’t really hell…I’m kinda, mostly kidding….kinda….but I am not kidding when I say it is NOT living in any real sense of the word. It is simply existing. This is Dave writing. I am on Sal’s computer


  2. Your colorful post about the dreaded reality of aging reminds me of what Jesus once said to the apostle Peter in the good book. He used this reality to illustrate a spiritual truth about the Christian life as marked in the Lenten calendar in the Christian community. However, the quote speaks for itself -about the human journey too.

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, e you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” John21:18 ESV

    Sally’s mom, God bless her, is living the reality some of us might have to one day. I wonder how we might face that beyond protest and make it liveable.

    I trust SAL is doing all she can to make it liveable.


    • Oh yeah. We’re good. Very good, actually. Make her laugh, give her as much adventure as she can handle, take care of her and all that…..but, it is easy for us. 10 days of being a perfect daughter and son-in-law is easy when you know you are going a long way away in two days. Sal’s sisters live here. She chose this place so as to make it more convenient for them. That means they are ‘on the clock’. We’re great when we are here but we are rarely here.
      We found out today that the youngest person here is in their late 60’s!!!!! And the oldest is 103. Sheeeeeeeeeesh.


      • Asamatteroffact! I DO have a new cleaning lady. She started as a day a week, but she has me trained so well now that she only comes half a day every two weeks. Now it’s sort of a social thing, unless I can convince her to take night shift!
        Cauliflower are too expensive to eat right now, but I might step up production this growing season as C.L. Is also a Mastergardner. I’m also excited about using my fish ponds effluent to nourish a vertical garden, but that’s another story.
        I can’t explain the blank reply. Musta been a reflexive response to reach out. Sometimes gets lonely and cold up here!


    • No reminder of Ratchet needed…..t’was the first thing I thought of. T’is the first thing I look out for when I enter the facility. Today I went in without Sal and mom and, of course, broke a few rules….but I kept looking over my shoulder….


  3. I agree, this is no way to live, but if there’s no other choice, what will you do?
    I think by living OTG, the chance to an assisted living place would even be bigger.
    Imagine being “locked up” 24/24 7/7 in a small room. Being put to bed at 7pm if you are lucky.
    I even heard the staff does everything to make the people incontinent, that way they do not get called at random ties when the people need to go to the bathroom
    When they wear diapers, they can change them whenever they want (mostly only once or twice a day)…damn…no way to live

    I also hope that when I go, it will be nice,clean and swift, being active untill y last minute

    My aunt died that way, she was really very active, we found her one morning in her sodfa in front of the TV, doctor said she didn’t suffer, nice way to go when my time is up

    Must be hard on you and Sal, but hard on Sal’s sister too, as she will have to visit her mum very regularly

    Take care, both of you
    May you live long and prosperous 😉


    • Thanks, WdG, we will try our best. The OTG lifestyle, the actual setting we chose, the two dogs, the forced DIY nature of living remote and an evening scotch provides incentive. When that and bloody mindedness isn’t enough, we’ll import help. When I die, Sal has planned to go on a cruise……


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