Years ago, when I was a nursing assistant at North Ridge, I would walk a long hallway and go past a large structure filled with birds in it. There watching quietly, would be many residents watching the birds. On any given day they would be sitting there, ignoring people walking by to where they needed to go, and enjoy the peace of the birds. I used to think that it was sad, in a way that their big enjoyment of the day was watching the birds fly around.
Fast forward twenty years and I am now sitting here watching the birds with Mom. Today, it is a quiet day filled with busy people and residents walking around. There is an alcove where Mom and I sit in large wooden chairs, music quietly playing and the birds flying around. She is ignoring my questions and we sit here drinking coffee and I’m watching her as she watches the birds.
In all honesty, I find my mind wander a million miles away. I should be folding clothes, organizing our family calendar, paying bills and maybe getting a few chapters in with my new book. The girls are back in school after a long break and I haven’t been to see mom as often as I would like. Today, its cold out and I feel the need to go. A girlfriend asked me the other day, “Your Mom won’t know that you haven’t been there in a while, she forgets”. I know she is just being honest with me and I understand, but truthfully, I know if I haven’t been there. My heart knows.
As I sit here watching her, I think of how far we have come. Moving her closer to me, making all of her life choices and the hardness of it all. I was at hockey the other day and I was watching all the grandparents come and watch their young players; clapping and cheering them on. It’s so different for me. I wish she and my dad were here and able to watch the girls in their activities. Cheering them on and being proud of them. My dad would have loved to see Sophia skate.
As we watch the birds, I think of a few days ago when I got the call from her memory care unit that she was refusing to get up. She was dressed but simply wanted to stay in bed. I got to leave work a little early and I stopped by Lunds and got her some peach pie and some bananas. I arrived in her room and showed her what I purchased. She was less than interested and was irritable with me. Something was different about today and I thought of my nursing bag of tricks to get her up. Coffee. Pie. Matilda. Nothing worked and I was ok with her staying in bed. She’s soon to be 88, she’s earned her right to stay in bed. But what worked was those crazy birds. “Lets go and see the birds!”. She gave me a look, and said, “Alright, let’s go!”.
All of her busy life, her baking, gardening, walking every day, her church, her kids, her friends…this is what it comes down to is the bright, colorful, noisy, crazy birds. They leave her content. I’m actually content, the need to do everything today has passed for a moment and I’m spending time with her. I know the days with her are numbered and its like a large clock ticking away. If every day I spend with her is watching the birds, that is alright. Maybe in a way, this is a way for me to slow down too and relax. I’m adding that to my bag of tricks.
Here is to a wonderful start to 2014…Cheers!