Ruth Dachoff Story
…from the eyes of husband, Dr. Dacho Dachoff, and daughter Christine
Beginnings Paved with Hope
My beautiful wife Ruth is 87½ years old now. I met her back in 1953 in Royal Oak, Michigan. But, I’m not from here originally. My parents were Bulgarian and Macedonian. They were married in Montreal, Canada, where I was born. Afterward, we moved to Detroit.
I grew up on the East Side near Chandler Park, attended Detroit public schools, and graduated from Wayne State University. After college, I took on many different roles, one of which was “husband.” It was a great season in life. Early beginnings paved with hope. Until my first wife passed away when our daughter, Christine, was only 10 months old. That was really hard. Thankfully my sister, Mary, helped me take care of her.
I met Ruth, my wife-to-be, when she was living with her sister, Harriet, who lived just two houses away from my sister, Mary. I was looking to sell Christine’s baby bed. Ruth, who was going through a divorce at that time, was looking for a baby bed for her daughter, Deborah. The bed I was selling met her needs. Not too long afterwards, Ruth and I dated, fell in love, married in 1954 and had an instant family of daughters, Christine, three-and-a-half, and Deborah, one-and-a-half. So out of a very hard situation, the families came together and there were whole new possibilities of life together.
Soon after, I became a professor at Ferris. I started as a one-man music department. Eventually I oversaw the entire band program and organized an orchestra program. From there, a music center building for the non-music majors was occupied in May, 1960, which was a tremendous achievement. We had very fine choral and instrumental people in the program. It was everything I ever dreamed about and more. Couple that with my beautiful wife, Ruth, and our three children (Ruth and I had a son together, Paul) and I can admit, my life was full.
A Daughter…in Her Own Words
I love hearing stories about my mom, dad, and I when I was little. I feel as if I remember every moment, but I was too young to recall it all. What I do remember about my mom clearly though, is her beauty and vitality. She was just gorgeous. She comes from a Norwegian background and there was a strong Norwegian influence in her style. She was an all-around awesome mom.
Early on, while my dad was busy getting his Ed.D, my mom pretty much had to take care of my sister and me by herself. We lived in a big, old house with two or three Ferris student boarders who lived upstairs. I remember my mom doing everything back then. The house, the cooking, the linens…she was such a go-getter. And she was artistic, too. After my brother Paul was born, she took up painting. And golf. She’s always been a lot of fun. Hard-working, but fun. She provided a wonderful life for us and my dad.
Mom was definitely the glue that held our family together—as well as her family and my dad’s family, too. The Norwegians and the Bulgarians. It became a tradition to go to Detroit to my Grandma’s for Christmas to see our relatives. I remember the Bulgarian food on Dad’s side was spicy and hot, and mom’s families’ Norwegian food was pretty bland. And we always had Lutefisk fish. We were blessed. Happy times.
Later, both of my mom’s sisters developed memory loss. One had dementia and the other Alzheimer’s. My parents moved to Florida and my mom walked one of my aunts through the journey. Now, my dad is journeying the same road with my mom.
A Husband’s Journey
We had lived in Florida for 29 years, and about 8 years ago, Ruth had the stroke in her optic nerve and went blind in one eye. So, life changed quickly in Florida. And after about a year and a half of that, I said to my son-in-law, “You know, I’m thinking that maybe it’s time to move to Michigan to be closer to family. We’re thinking about moving to Grand Rapids.” He and my daughter both thought it was the best idea. Boy was it ever. I didn’t realize then that Ruth was next in line for memory care, beyond what I could give her.
Mom and Dad Move Home
I was so pleased my parents were headed back to Michigan. I started looking in Grand Rapids for a residence for them. Beacon Hill was easily one of my top choices. It was close to where we live, and I knew they had continuing care, which I thought that someday we might need because of my aunts. My parents and I went to the luncheon provided by Beacon Hill, and afterward my dad said, “We’ve decided. We’re going to come here.” And so, they moved into a beautiful two-bedroom apartment.
Eventually, it got to the point where the kind of care mom obviously needed, dad just couldn’t provide anymore. To bathe her, to help her eat, to take her to the bathroom in the middle of the night. She, herself, didn’t even want to go down to dinner anymore. My dad had hired a woman to come in and help with the care, but she wasn’t there at night. Dad was in charge of nighttime. One night, mom actually fell in the bathroom, and the next day dad reached out to Ann Flynn.
Together, we began to explore the topic of memory care very seriously. We all came to the agreement that the best thing to do was to make the move to memory care with mom. It really was the right thing for everyone. Dad and I feel relieved knowing she’s getting the kind of care she needs. It’s really been a godsend for our whole family.
A Day in the Life of Ruth
Ruth is greeted every morning with a wake up, freshen up, and dress routine that leads to breakfast. They check often to see if she has to go to the bathroom, or things like that. She is very well cared for. I usually come in about 11:15 and stay for lunch.
It’s difficult for Ruth to eat a regular meal, so she often has peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which she loves and are easy for her to eat. The dietician teaches us how to make mealtime easier for everyone. They know Ruth’s good eye has a type of macular degeneration, so she can’t really see well. We learned to hand her a quarter of a sandwich at a time, which she can handle. She’ll eat and have her coffee enjoyably. The helpers here help Ruth with breakfast and dinner. I come every day and help with lunch.
After lunch, I usually take Ruth back to her room. She’ll lie down, and I’ll stay until she dozes off. I let everyone know that I’m leaving, so they can watch her. She loves the staff and is very comfortable with them. They really know how to talk to her. From the moment she arrived, they made her transition seamless. Her room was set up just like it was before. Every detail was thought out. They take such wonderful care of her here.
True Peace of Mind
Anyone would feel darn lucky that they found a place like Beacon Hill. The kind of care that my wife, Ruth, gets here—how lucky can you be? I can sleep at night now, knowing my wife is well cared for. Plus, I can visit her every day. I hold her hand, feed her lunch, talk with her. I even attend prayer session with her. Her hearing is excellent. She sings hymns in the living room with the chaplain. There are also other interactions that are good for people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. I couldn’t get through this all without Beacon Hill.
Thankfully, Ruth still knows who I am and who Christine is. I always kiss her goodbye at lunchtime before I leave. Then I tell her I love her, and she smiles and says, “I love you too.” Now that’s pretty cool.