After Mom passed, it was suggested that we petition the court for guardianship of Ricky. Since my sister lived with us, all our attorney needed to do was send a registered letter to our half brother, whom I hadn't seen since 1999. He signed for the letter, but never responded, so the path was clear.
The day of the hearing, we went to court in Wooster, and everything there went smooth. The judge asked Ricky if there was anything he wanted to say, and Ricky asked "Are we done?" The judge said yes, and Ricky said "Good. I want to go to Wal*Mart."
There were three things Ricky never forgot: People's ages, their birthdays, or their phone number. Of course, he could dial our number in his sleep. There were three numbers we never gave him, our cell phone numbers and my work number. He would call the house whenever he needed anything. One time he called our house, got the answering machine and left a two word message-"Oh sh*t." This was while mom was still alive, and she got as big a laugh as the rest of us. Other times he would call the house while we were gone and leave a message long enough that the machine would cut him off, call back and finish it.
And of course if he wanted to talk sports, he would want to talk to me. If he wanted to talk about the workshop, Deirdre would be the one he would want. If he wanted to complain about the care he was receiving, then he specifically ask for Kathy.
At the nursing home an employee named Lisa was assigned as his "Guardian Angel." Ricky's first stop after getting back from workshop would be Lisa's office. Next stop would be the telephone to call us. Many there took a liking to him. And you could tell if he was watching his cartoons when you walked by the reception desk. Everybody enjoyed his laugh. His favorite cartoon was Sponge Bob Squarepants. Ricky would get Spongebob toys from many of the workers there.
Our mother passed away Palm Sunday, 2004. The folks who worked his wing all got together and put an Easter basket together for Ricky, to help try to ease the pain of him losing his mom. Very rare to have to help a nursing home resident cope with losing a parent.
When Ricky first got to Autumnwood, he still could not keep a roommate, so for much of his first year there he was in a room by himself and pretty much loving it. We had told him that we were coming over to celebrate his birthday with him in 2004, which fell on a Saturday that year. Ricky called the house that Friday and told us we couldn't have his birthday party because he now had a roommate. His new roomate was one who was born normal, and led a normal life into adulthood. He got into a fight and ended up bedridden, with just the use of his left arm. He communicated with a series of sounds, such as eeeeeeee and wooooo. He was loud, but he was very pleasant. We all took a liking to him and Ricky became protective of him. Both guys liked to look at pictures from the swimsuit issue of SI, so Ricky would go over to his roomate's bed with his copy and they would both enjoy it together. the roomate would say ooooooooooo heh heh, and ricky would laugh at it. He ended up being Ricky's roommate for the rest of the time.
Ricky and his roomate got haircuts on the same day once. both of them got "scalped," which was the way Ricky wanted his hair most of the time. He called the house and told us that they looked like brothers. Only thing was, his roommate was black.
I left the roommate's name out for confidentiality reasons.
If Ricky would get agitated, I would sometimes have some of the residents come up to me soon after I walked through the door to tell me why. they would also tell me about Ricky going around with his joke books trying to humor others. We never heard a bad report about the home. It wasn't the perfect place, but to be perfect, Autumnwood would have to hire all perfect employees and only take in perfect residents. Not gonna happen. Anywhere. The workers would always have Ricky ready when we went there to take him to the store or activities. Lisa volunteered to bring him to our daughter, Sylva's wedding last summer.
Ricky lived there until last week when he went home to be with the Lord. As far as the care Ricky had gotten, I have no complaints. I would recommend Autumnwood to anybody.
Next: More tributes from those around him.