22 Apr Love for The Carolina Inn
To whom it may concern,
Hi. My name is Laura Millinor. And I want to tell you about Carolina Inn, located in Fayetteville, N.C, my hometown. I am an only child of 56, having lost my brother in 1999 and my daddy in 2017. It was just me and my mother for the last two years.
I live in Hickory, N.C., four hours away. I’m a part-time nurse, have 3 kids (19, 20, 21), and a wonderful husband of 25 years. My mother of 84 years of age, lived alone in Fayetteville. I would try to see her at least twice a month…sometimes more, sometimes less. She had broken her hip in 2018, one year after my daddy died. She went to rehab and came back home. I had Home Health for her for 24 hours each and every day.
Home Health was good…for a while. I found that they would just enable her to do the minimum. Not their fault, really…you can only lead a horse to water so many times. She refused to eat anything healthy, complained that “they couldn’t cook like her”, although she herself refused to cook. She wouldn’t even get up on her own from her beloved recliner…became incontinent and weak. I was fearful of “recliner“ sores, pneumonia, UTI, you name it, as were her home health aides.
When I would come back home, I would get so angry with her. I would say “you’re gonna die, mama, if you don’t get moving and eat”. But to no avail. I grew to dread the visits. And I knew she dreaded when I came. I tried everything I knew how…to encourage her…to make her fight for herself. I eventually grew resentful and wanted to just walk away. But I knew I couldn’t. Our relationship grew more distant…just talking about the mundane things…and me fussing at her all the time. Which made us both miserable.
It wasn’t until my mother fell, going to her doctor’s appointment, in December 2019, that all that changed. When she was hospitalized at Cape Fear Valley Medical Hospital for that fall, I hinted at the idea of going somewhere so she could be looked after. Mama was opposed to it, of course. But she had to go to rehab at Village Green, which fortunately for me, was right next door to Carolina Inn, which was run by a wonderful woman named Jessica.
I had called Jessica, the admissions director, a couple of days before my mama was to be discharged from Village Green. We had set up an appointment for us to tour the facility. Lucky for me, it was Christmas time, which was my mother’s favorite holiday. John, the nursing director, met us in the lobby, as did Jessica. The lobby was beautifully decorated. Mama just HAD to tell them how she decorated her own home with 17 trees at Christmas time, many years ago. I was shocked she even communicated this through her tears. She then told me, “you’re just throwing me away”…which killed me to hear. But John reassured me that she would be okay.
And in between tears, mine and hers, she decided to give it a try. I promised her she could always go home if she wanted…something I held my breath on with each visit. I made her room just like her house…with her pictures, her quilts, her plants, and even her beloved recliner. I was trying to make it as pleasing to her as I could. It didn’t work in the beginning…but over time, say one month, I had my mother back. Even better than ever.
The folks at Carolina Inn treated her like she was THEIR mother. John would always talk with me when I had a question and made me feel like family. Jessica, also did, and went above and beyond to help me with the long term care insurance my mother had. Everyone had a role that they were meant to have. From Adrienne, her favorite CNA, to Zack, in the kitchen, who made sure she ate. They excelled at their jobs. And I find that when one excels at anything, it’s because he/she loves doing it.
My mother thrived at Carolina Inn. She would actually walk, with her walker, to the dining room where she would sit at the “cool kids table” with her new friends. Nicole, the dining room manager, would always stop and talk with her, asking her what she liked to eat. She would get her nails done, by Heather, every Thursday. Her hair was done on the same day, by one of the two stylists. And when you feel pretty, you ARE pretty. And that makes a woman want to get up and move. Trust me on that. She would even go to the daily Wine happy hour…and she doesn’t even drink.
My visits with her were now more frequent, more honest, more fun. I no longer had resentment. I would sometimes bring bird seed so she could watch her beautiful birds outside, on her patio, asking her this question or that. We’d reminisce about my daddy and brother…and even laughed together. She would introduce me to everyone we saw. My mother was truly happy. And that made her daughter even happier. I would want to skip all the way down the hall when I’d leave her…always telling Cathy or Melissa, the concierges, “thank you, thank you…I so love this place. You guys have truly saved my relationship with my mother. For real.”
But alas, Covid reared it’s ugly head. And being in quarantine, with no physical therapy, no family visits, took a toll on my mother. She grew more depressed…wouldn’t eat or drink much. Adrienne and Sally, her nurse, would call me to tell me her situation which was growing dire. Sally, suggested hospice to me…to offer her more one on one care. And I knew that is what she needed.
She died on Mother’s Day, May 10th, 2020. And because of John, and the staff, I was able to spend the last week with her, by her side. She had been ready to go, probably longer than I realized…to be with my daddy and my brother. And as much as I begged her to stay with me, I knew she was ready. So I let her go.
I can’t tell you how much I love the staff at Carolina Inn, having only known them for 5 months. But I’ll never forget them. I’ll always remember Adrienne, or AJ, as my mama called her, who would cry when she would leave us each day during that last week. I remember Melissa, who would take my temperature each day, telling me “what a good daughter I was”. And sweet, short, lovable Cathy…she would always stop by my mama’s room, before she went home for the day, and we’d pray together at my mama’s bedside…always shedding tears for my mama and for me. I’ll always remember Anna, her CNA on the weekend, who called me that morning to come and be with my mama, as she knew she was already gone.
So, thank you, Carolina Inn…you not only took great care of my mama, you gave me back my relationship with her. And that is something I will forever be grateful for.
So if anyone is looking for a place…for a home for their loved one…tell them to call me. I couldn’t sing the praises of Carolina Inn loud enough. Everyone there has a calling…and I’m so thankful that that calling made my months with my mama a memory I will cherish forever.