The house is gaping with silence. Alan is out of town. Meems is asleep in Reed's room. I am awake just thinking. I wish that you could come sip sweet tea with me so that we could talk this thing out. I have a fresh box of Thin Mints that I'll split with you. I need sisterly advice. A shoulder. A laugh. It's been a long week.
I got the dreaded call from Raider Ranch on Tuesday about mid-morning. The director softly said, "Your mom is ok, but I need to tell you about what happened last night." My heart clenched up in my chest. In the wee hours of the night, Meems had left her apartment in search of the security guard. Luckily, he was sitting at the front desk and not out making rounds on the property. Apparently, Meems was very frightened because "a family moved into my apartment and they are kicking me out." The kind, patient security guard took her hand and lead her back to her apartment. She watched as he checked every nook, cranny and closet for the family of bullies. Seeing no bullies, he sat with her a while and reassured her that she was safe.
About an hour later, she tiptoed back down to the front desk. This time, the family not only kicked her out - they actually locked her out. Once again, the security guard escorted her back to her apartment, searched, checked, and reassured. Once she locked the door, he sat in the hall outside of her apartment for a while just in case she got kicked out again. The rest of the night was uneventful. Then, came the morning.
That morning, Meems went to the front desk in her gown and robe. At Raider Ranch that is a no-no. It's like going to the front desk of a 5-star hotel in your jammies. It's just not done. At the desk, she told the receptionist that she wasn't sure when the party started and that she didn't have a gift yet. Reassured. Escorted. Tucked in. About an hour later, she was back fretting about the party and the gift.
The director and I both assumed that Mom had a urinary tract infection which can make an elderly person hallucinate wildly. A trip to the ER revealed that there was nothing wrong with Mom. The CT, blood work, chest x-ray and urinalysis came back clear. So, Alan and I bundled her up and brought her home with us to keep her under close observation. Just as mysteriously as this manic dementia drifted in, the next day it slithered away. She was back to her normal, forgetful self.
Today, a nurse representing Meem's long-term health care insurance company came to evaluate her. When she called to set up the visit, I told her that Mom didn't really know that a possible "change of address" was in the hopper of possibilities. The nurse was so sweet and understanding, and, I loved her for it.
Together, Meems and I answered all of the nurse's questions about past surgeries and current medications. Strangely, the moment the nurse stepped into my kitchen, Mom became extraordinarily lucid and informative. My usually dazed and confused Mother who sleeps about 23 of every 24 hours marched across the house with the nurse to show her the master bathroom where she showers (with great help from me). I began to get nervous.
Then came the memory portion of the exam. It starts with the usual questions about the day and date and city and state. Then, it gets tricky. "OK, Helen. I need for you to subtract 7 from 100, and then, subtract 7 from that answer and keep going until I tell you to stop." Meems wrinkled her little brow and bit her lip. Tick. Tick. Tick. "Ninety three!" she finally exclaimed. "Good. Now, keep going." Tick. Tick. Tick. Boom. Done. "I'm not very good in math," Mom said quietly. [Hey, don't look at me. I was counting on my fingers under the table.]
One of the last things the nurse asked Meems to do was write a sentence. Mom took the pen and slowly, painstakingly wiggled out the following:
|"I am going home."|
A dagger of guilt plunged into my heart. I wanted to throw my arms around my tiny mother and swear that I would never leave nor forsake her. She gave me the world. I want to do the same for her. I want to give her a safe, comfy world where jammies are always appropriate attire.
I was able to find several "funnies" during the past few days.
- Mom and I had to wait about 2 1/2 hours to be seen at the ER. (Thanks to my friend, Eddie, who works at the front ER desk. He brought around heated blankets to all the people waiting. It was FREEZING in there.) After about 2 hours passed, Meems looked at me and said, "I'll bet you're glad I came with you. You would have been really bored without me."
- Alan met us at the ER because he's that kind of a great guy. As he was sitting by Meem's little ER bedside, she turned to him and said, "Carolyn had dinner with another man last night. And, it wasn't you." I. Have. No. Idea.
- When the nurse called to schedule the evaluation, she began the call by saying that she really liked my name because she was also named Carolyn. Just before we finished the phone call, I asked, "What was your name again?" Oh, yeah. That. Please, oh, please do not tell Nurse Carolyn that I was counting on my fingers trying to figure out what 93 minus 7 equals. The sentence I would write? "The peach does not fall far from the tree."
Thank you for listening, dear friend. The sweet tea with a twist of fresh lime was delightful. Can I have the rest of your sleeve of Thin Mints? I've already finished mine.
The time I spend spilling my heart out to you is always time well spent.
A special thanks to my Bible Study Ya-Yas who surrounded me with love and support on Wednesday night. God blesses me through you all the time.