When I first heard of Charles House from Lynn Davis, I didn't know what it was. Adult-day-care was a phrase that brought to my mind helplessness, childish arts-and-crafts projects, and bingo. I didn't even consider it a possibility for my dad. I thought my dad would never consider such a thing! My dad had too many interests. My dad would consider it an insult. These were the prejudiced ideas in my head that delayed me. In retrospect, I deeply regret that I did not explore the Charles House option sooner. Charles House was wonderful for my dad.
Dad needed a place to go. Dad was pacing back and forth in his apartment. He couldn't concentrate; couldn't drive; he was losing his way outdoors; he couldn't make social plans. He was lonely; he was rummaging through his clothes; he couldn't prepare his own meals; he couldn't play music, couldn't read, and couldn't adjust the dial on his radio. He needed more help, and I couldn't provide all that he needed.
Charles House gave him back his life. It put him back in charge of himself. He made new friends. He had new things to think about and plan for. He was stimulated by the attention of others. He had an incentive to practice his self-care abilities everyday. I knew he was getting a hot meal at lunch. I knew he was as safe. Charles House changed my negative ideas about adult day care. Now I am a devoted advocate of adult day care as an alternative for seniors who need assistance with daily tasks, for seniors who want to remain meaningfully involved in life.
Early in 1998, Jacques, Wally, David and I became very concerned about dad's failing abilities. I took dad to his doctor's office for a reevaluation. While there, I expressed our worries. The doctor understood, and immediately referred me to a social worker at the clinic. It was there that I began to learn that adult-day-care at Charles House not what I had thought. Charlie Jones' family started Charles House for Charlie. They wanted the same things for their family member that I wanted for dad. Charlie Jones was a very active involved member of his community. During his life he had fought for Civil Rights, and founded a church. Charlie Jones, I knew, would have needed a stimulating caregiving environment. I began to understand that Charles House was about helping disabled seniors maintain a meaningful life.
Before dad entered the program, the staff worked with me to understand his interests and his preferences. They listened to me carefully. We worked together to plan a welcoming introduction to Charles House for dad. I learned that Charles House has the staff to provide individualized attention. I learned that the Charles House invites participant input in programming.
Dad started out at ½ a day for two days. When we arrived the first day, a staff member met us at the door exclaiming "Tommy! We're so glad to have you here!" He was helped off with his coat and ushered into a bright room that smelled like fresh baked bread. He was offered a cup of hot chocolate, and gracefully brought into the conversation. Within a week, dad and I both understood that this was not just a safe alternative to home, but also a wonderful new enhancement in dad's interesting life.
What a blessing to him, to me, and to all the friends and family who were concerned about dad. There is so much comfort, now, in knowing that dad had Charles House in his life. There are many good memories from that time: Dad speaking to me in an English accent about having High Tea, the music, the ceramic coil-pot dad made, the friendships he made, the autumn leaves that Elizabeth Oudejans helped him paint, how he loved the haircuts Shannon gave him, how she made him laugh on Halloween by dressing like Marge Simpson in a tall blue wig, how he discovered gardening with Maureen, the heart he made for me on Valentines Day. I could go on and on, but there isn't space here for me to list all the joyful experiences dad had at Charles House.
All I can say now is that these are memories I will always cherish. A stressful time in our lives which might also have been full of grief, was made so much better by the joyful environment at Charles House.
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Besides Tommy's section of the site, the following pages are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community
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January 10, 2002