Could I have done more for Grandmama?

It has been more than 25 years since my grandmother died. I still think of her often. I remember visiting her when I was really little, helping her snap peas on the back porch while singing K-K-K-Katy. She kept an immaculate house. Their realtor, when my grandparents sold their little house in Newnan, GA, said she’d never seen such a clean attic. Who cleans their attic?!

My grandparents moved to Venice, FL, for their winter years, to be close to Grandaddy’s brothers and their wives. They moved into a lovely double-wide trailer in a retirement trailer park off of Nokomis Ave., close to the citrus packing store. I think the street was Jacaranda. They spent many leisurely years going to “hamburgers” at the club house and to dinner with the brothers and sisters-in-law at the Picadilly Cafeteria. I visited often as a teenager, feeling a little funny as the only one at the pool under 80.

When Grandaddy died, my husband and I moved Grandmama to Orlando, where we lived. She was “crippled up” with rheumatoid arthritis and couldn’t really do her housework anymore. We moved her into a 3-story ALF on Delaney Ave. We had a little girl not quite 2 years old at the time and lived in a little house in Delaney Park 5 or 6 blocks away.

Grandmama lived in several ALFs and a nursing home during her time in Orlando. She was never happy in any of them. She wouldn’t have been happy living with us either. She should have stayed in her own home. If I had it to do again, I would have hired help for her in her home. She would have been difficult to please, but she would have been so much happier.

Sometimes, I ask her to forgive me for making the wrong choices about her life. I was very young and trying my best to be a good granddaughter, daughter, sister, wife, and mother – lots of roles for a 27-year-old. I would have made different choices now. I would have done everything I could to allow her to stay at home, where she was comfortable and had wonderful memories.

About Kim Lee

Robert “Kim” Lee and Melanie Ann Lee founded Flourish in Place to help seniors and adults with disabilities thrive and flourish while leading dignified and independent lives in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Kim and Melanie raised three remarkable children while helping care for Melanie’s wonderful mother, Kathryn, who lived a rich life despite dealing with bipolar disorder all her life and suffering later from post-polio syndrome. Melanie has cared for her intellectually disabled older sister for the past 18 years as Melinda’s court-appointed plenary guardian. Kim’s mother, Betsy, suffers from severe dementia. She lives in her own home with the help of compassionate family members as well as paid caregivers. Kim and Melanie’s life experiences caring for others influenced their desire to help people not merely “age in place” -- but flourish at home. Kim and Melanie are both Certified Senior Care Managers. Kim Lee is the President and Administrator. Kim earned his B.S. in Psychology from Duke University and his J.D. from the College of William and Mary School of Law. Kim practiced law as a shareholder for the prominent Orlando firm of Lowndes, Drosdick, et al. for many years, and then as Chair of the Commercial Litigation Department for Bogin, Munns & Munns. In 2001, Kim joined Rotech Healthcare Inc., a national Durable Medical Equipment company with annual sales of $500 million. The Rotech Board appointed him Chief Legal Officer in 2013. Kim has chaired a nonprofit board and volunteered in many capacities, including key leadership roles in his downtown Orlando church. As leader of Flourish in Place, Kim combines many years of legal experience as an attorney, and business acumen as a national healthcare company senior executive, with a strong passion for the mission of helping others flourish.
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