Friday I went to see Meems at Wilshire Place anxious to see if she was settling in nicely. Her face lit up when she realized that it was her daughter that had entered her room. #maculardegeneration "I'm SO GLAD you came to see me," she beamed. Standing next to her was her best friend, Leonard, who had been picked up at Raider Ranch as promised by the WP director in a "limousine" for his Friday lunch date with Meems. I couldn't remember the last time I saw Mom so alert and genuinely smiling. Was it last Christmas? Her birthday last year? 2013?
In unison she and Leonard asked, "Do you want to eat with us?!" Tempting as it was, I assured them that my visit would have to be brief. Piles of laundry and dishes had accumulated at my house during the time I'd spent moving Mom to her new digs. "Well. They don't have good soup here anyway," Meems said softly. In three short days of residing at her new assisted living facility, she had determined that all soup possibilities were unacceptable? I made a mental note to ask the aides if Mom had, indeed, ordered soup for any of the 9 meals she'd eaten since Wednesday lunch.
"You're the second good thing that has happened to me today!" she beamed. It was then that I noticed that she wearing lipstick. Lipstick! In the middle of the day! Between meals! "Two good things before noon!? I'm guessing that the first good thing is about to join you for lunch," I replied grinning at Leonard. "Yes! Today is a good day! Last night I was feeling sad because I missed my friends at Raider Ranch, now two good things have already happened today!" I wanted to look upward with a Jimmy Stewart wink and say, "Atta boy, Clarence!"
"I can't believe that I'm in such a nice place! My furniture looks better here than it did at Raider Ranch! I can't believe I have so much space!" All of a sudden I found myself fully enjoying this chorus of her never ending song. This was good news that I could hear over and over again. "Leonard, can you believe I have this much space?!"
Together the three of us made the short walk to the dining area. "I'm having half of a sloppy joe for lunch," Mom offered. "Leonard, what are you having?" I asked. "Smothered pork chops (pork chops are his favorite) and whatever goes with it. They're having chocolate cake for dessert. You sure you don't want to join us?!"
On the way to the table, Meems leaned over and patted one of her nameless new friends and said with a grin, "You look too young to be here!" Her friend giggled with delight. They both seemed oblivious to the fact that "youth" combined with "memory care" was not particularly desireable.
I sat with Meems and Leonard for a while as they ate. Mom had smothered pork chops. Turns out the sloppy joe was her supper selection. "I was feeling kind of sad last night, now two good things have happened. Leonard, can you believe I have so much space here?!"
Later that afternoon, I was folding clothes in my kitchen when the phone rang. "Four good things have happened to me today," the tiny voice said forgoing the obligatory salutation. "Four?!" I said with exaggerated amazement. "Yes. Leonard was one. You were one. Then, I met your pretty friend who is tall and her mom. Her mom LIVES here!" "You mean, Claudia?" I asked. "Is that her name?" she replied indicating that her mind was
totally cleared of the many discussions we had had about my friend, Claudia, and her mother who would be Mom's across the hall neighbor at Wilshire Place.
"Did you count Claudia and her mom as numbers three and four, or did something else good happen?" "Something else good happened! Her dad came and sang to us. He had 3 life-sized dummies that sang with him! That was the fourth thing!" I added "man with three life-sized dummies?" and "Claudia's dad?" to my fact-checking list.
"The man was a really good singer AND a ventriloquist. Most of the ladies slept through his singing, but I didn't because he was a really good singer!" "And the dummies?" I teased. She softly chuckled, "Yes, they were good singers, too. AND, we had ice cream for our snack! They only had strawberry, but it was good!" "You are SO lucky! I had a half of a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and now I'm folding clothes," I lamented. "Well," she replied. That's all. Just "well."
She didn't know it at the time, but the fifth good thing was coming at 5:30. Alan was going to stop by after work. Happy, Happy. Joy. Joy.
Five. Five GOOD things. And, a bromeliad. It's a long story. I need to write a letter to my 89 year old self reminding me to look for 5 simple good things each day. Simple delights that other people might pass by without noticing. It's the noticers who are truly happy.
For the record: Claudia's dad is no longer living. He was not and never had been a ventriloquist.
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