The Words

Today, we decided as a family to visit Mom in her new room. It’s hard with our busy schedules to figure out the time for all four of us to come and visit. Each of the girls are bringing in something for Mom and I am excited to show them her new room and have her meet her sweet roommate.

When we arrive, she is in the bathroom with an aide and I can tell that she is not having a good day. The aide is very gentle and sweet with her and I can see a worried expression on her face. She quietly mouths to me, “Your Mom wants to die!”. Mom is sweaty, nervous and scratching her back. She is out of sorts.

When I moved Mom on Thursday, everything went very well, no problems with the move and it was great relief for me. As I was leaving that day, the woman from the beauty shop stopped me and asked if everything was alright with mom. I told her she was doing well and told her about her move. She told me that while fixing Mom’s hair, she kept stating, “I just want to die”. She told me it  really bothered her and she even told the nurses she was concerned about her. Mom was normally very funny, a little sarcastic and never made a fuss getting her hair done.

I actually had forgotten about the comment until today. She is now out of the bathroom and playing with Matilda, her stuffed dog and she has forgotten the girls names. I gently remind her and she seems a little better. Its getting time for supper and my family heads down the hallway. Mom decides she needs to go back to the bathroom and I take her. While we are in there, again she states, “Why won’t God just take me?” and “I just want to die”. She is quiet and I can tell the fog of this disease comes over her. She is even confused about why I am there. I slip into nursing mode and ask her questions that she can’t answer. Do you hurt? Are you hungry? Did you take a nap today? None of the questions she can answer. As she sits there, she looks at me and pats my face and gives me the biggest sigh.

Those words are very powerful. Anyone that you have deeply loved so very much, you really are never prepared for those words. I can completely understand the statement 100%. I was telling Steve when we got home, what does she have to live for? I don’t mean to be insensitive about that but look at our own lives and if you can remember her own. Family, my dad, our activities, church, choir, gardening and her beloved grandchildren. There was never a time she wasn’t doing something. Thursday, the activity aide came into her room, inviting her to attend a “Cooking From Scratch” class. I encouraged mom to go, since this is what she did best. Cooking. Again, she said no, she would rather stay in her room. Life for her has slowed down to a crawl, or even stopped. It is hard for me to accept and in a way, she is even more accepting of it because she has forgotten.

We leave her room, and she is confused about supper and where it is. I walk with her and I feel so sad. Really sad. We get to her chair after moving people around and she is so very quiet. My kids have kissed her goodbye and I can tell the visitor is watching me across the table. She is a sister to a woman that sits with mom and I don’t want to converse with her. She watches as warm tears are coming down my face and I am mortified they have started. I kiss Mom goodbye and walk out to the desk. I catch Lisa, the nurse and ask her to watch over Mom tonight. Again, I cry in front of her and my family. I am more of a mess than my mother.

We get home tonight and there is a message to call my aunt, Mom’s sister. She is a comfort and we talk about not having Mom come to Easter and that I will most likely just go there. We talk about what Mom keeps telling me and how hard it is to hear.

I think that God is not ready for her just yet. I try and find the best in my days with her but today…this has been a really hard day. If you can send her good thoughts and prayers, I would be grateful.

The Smacker

Today, I had the best laugh. I arrived at Mom’s today, loaded with banana’s, a large Snicker bag and some new nylons. I have arrived at lunch time and she is surprised to see me. “Oh, its you!”. She looks nice and cozy, her hair looking lovely and she is banging her cup softly for some coffee. My Dad used to do the same thing and I how it mortified Ross, Mom and I when he did that. I reminded her that she can ask and not bang her cup. I feel like I am now the mother.

When I get up to leave to organize her room, she smacks me in the butt. She has been doing this lately and we both laugh, since it was a pretty hard smack. The nurse on duty catches me in the hallway and lets me know that she has been doing that to other residents. I’m somewhat surprised at this, since I know she would not hurt a fly. The nurse is not scolding, she is just concerned that another resident may think the gesture is not ok and may hit her. I know that some of her aides have enjoyed her small tap but the nurse is correct in thinking this may trigger something bigger.

As I come back to the table, Mom’s tablemate is just sitting down and I catch Mom reaching over to smack Janet on the arm. And it is a strong wind-up. I catch her and remind Mom, she needs to be gentle. Janet is much younger than my Mom and said she doesn’t mind but Janet’s mood also changes on a dime. She continues to pat Janet’s arm, harder than I would like.

After Mom is done with her meal, I sit down with her and try to explain to her this smacking business. Again, I feel I am in the wrong role. I don’t really want to have this conversation with her, but I am. It goes something like this:

Me: Mom, you have to be careful when you grab, slap, smack people. They may not know that you are just being friendly.

Mom: Where is my coffee?

Me: Did you hear me? It’s ok to smack me on the butt but try and not do it to someone else. (And I’m thinking, how is she going to know who is staff and who is a resident?)

Mom: Well, its time for me to get to bed. (It’s now 12:30 pm)

Me: Mom, don’t smack Janet, OK? You know who Janet is, she sits right by you.

Mom: Is that applesauce?

Me: Oh boy, this went well.

Keep in mind, the nurse was just concerned, as am I. In Mom’s building, there are many men and some very strong women. When she first arrived, someone pulled her down to the floor. I wasn’t upset, that is sometimes how things go. I am guessing it was on accident. My visit today is short, I’ve got so many errands to run.

As I get up to hug her she pinches my chin. I can tell she notes my surprise. She said, “You said I can’t hit you!”.

Oh, Mom…how I love you.