The Baby

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If you look really close, you can see my Mom smiling. It is a rare smile that comes every so often and it is a good sign…she is happy.

When Sophia and I went to see her today, we found her with a baby. In fairness, I found her with a baby last Tuesday at the BBQ they hosted at her memory care unit. It was sitting on her walker, naked and a little beat up. She introduced me to her baby and I went to put it on a chair, hoping she would forget about it. The week before, I had called her at night and she finally answered the phone and she said she was in bed and snuggling with her baby. I thought she meant her stuffed dog, Matilda. What she was really talking about was this new addition, The Baby.

Honestly, I am not thrilled with this new addition. I have gotten used to her talking to her animals and mainly her dog, Matilda. We take the animals with when we go on our trips and appointments and I have gotten used to their presence. It does bring her comfort and joy. Now she has Matilda the crazy haired dog, the blue stuffed dog with no name and a hockey bear that she also cuddles with. And now the new baby.

I will share with you that it is very difficult for me to see my Mom holding this baby. I know logically that it brings her some joy, just by seeing her face. When I worked in the nursing home and even with home care now, I see the elderly with their most loved items. When I worked in the memory care unit, it varied from a suitcase, a fake baby, a blanket and a purse. I know that the items bring something familiar to them, especially when most everything is taken away from them, especially their memory.

As I look at this doll, it represents what my mom is right now and where she is at in her loss. She is comforted by a plastic, heavy, very real looking doll. I asked her today, “Do you know that the doll is fake?” Her answer was a simple, yes. She then began to talk to it and offer it a bite of banana that we brought for her. I think that Sophia, my soon to be eleven year old handled it better than I did. She asked Mom questions and we found that she named the baby Jodi. I should be proud that she did not name it Ross, after my brother. I should feel happy, but I am torn.

Here is my mother, now with her baby and she is content and smiled today. Know that I understand her loss, but it is hard for me to realize she is finding comfort in this. It’s hard for me to put this in words, but when I see her talk to the baby I feel her loss and see her loss. She is talking to a life like baby that weights about forty pounds. Someone has given the baby to giver her comfort and it is working. I need to accept that.

Before we leave, I go into their nursery area that they have and I trade out her baby for a lighter one. Sophia and I put on a different outfit and she doesn’t even know we have changed her baby. She snuggles right in with it and gives it a kiss and then tells Sophia, “I think I am too rough with it!”

On the car ride home, I was thinking that she is really just holding me when she holds that baby. She may be going back forty plus years and holding what she thinks is me and I must understand that. So if the baby is a reflection of me, I am ok with that. Well, I guess I have to be.

We leave after a long visit and she tells me she loves us both and she waves the babies hand at us. This baby thing is going to take me a while to get used to, but I will. For her.

The Roommate

Just for today, I’m not writing about Mom…I’m writing about her roommate.

I have just come back from a beautiful break with my family and I have not talked to my mom in over a week. I know that she is well cared for and I have not worried about her, though I have missed our banter back and forth.

So today after work, I had headed to Mom’s to bring her a treat. The good thing about memory loss is that I don’t think she even remembered I was gone. She gave me a big smile and I told her that we went to the lake and I showed her the video of Sophia getting up on water skis. She needed to get to bed and so we went.

I opened up her bedroom door and waved to her roommate and I did not get a response. I brought Mom to her chair and I went over to say hello to her. I could tell right away she had a stroke and I wiped the drool from her face. Half of her face gave me a smile and I know the nurse could not tell me much. There was a lone chair sitting by her bed and I know that someone had most likely used it today.

I don’t know much about Mom’s roommate but I know that she is beautiful, sweet, well dressed and always worried about Mom, especially when she came back from the hospital. Always worried about her and telling me about her cough.

I love to see her pictures on the wall of a much different looking woman, cheeks heavier, hair high and very blonde and with her handsome husband. I know that her sister has faithfully taken her out for lunch every Thursday. Her life, like Mom’s vastly different than it used to be.

My girls quickly formed a pact that they pretended to be her grandchildren. They would come in her room, shout a hello to her and Sophia would sit in her chair while she was in bed and they would discuss Mom. I loved that little relationship that they formed with her. I think children are always a highlight for the elderly. Remembering days that have long passed and how much noise they make, especially my girls.

I think Mom could not have found a better roommate and I also have enjoyed my time with her. I always gave her a mini snicker of Mom’s and she would make a basket with the wrapper. Twice, I have watched her fall while I was in the room. She was a sneaky one, transferring herself into bed when she should have waited. One time, she would have broken her wrist but I saw her out of the corner of my eye and picked her up right away, knowing it is sometimes an instinct to help when I shouldn’t at Mom’s place. I scold her kindly and tell her she has to wait! No more falls.

Now, her face is pale, her beautiful face drooping and she is coughing and no one is around. It reminds me of my nursing home days and wanting to be every where as a nurse and not being able to. I went to get her nurse and they helped her get comfortable, my Mom not even realizing what is going on. For a brief moment, I get to hold her hand. It’s always hard for me when family is not there and you are the only person with them. Knowing that her time is limited, I hope that she gets comfortable quickly.

Life changes so quickly…eight days ago my girls saw their grandma before vacation and got to talk to their grandma’s roommate. A kind and gentle woman that I hope finds peace and finds her handsome husband soon.

Jodi