Thursday, December 22, 2016

Feliz Blah-Blah-Blah

I had hoped that this one detail of Christmas Past had slipped out of Meems' memory forevermore.  But, NOOOOOOOOOO.  She started asking for it a couple of weeks ago.  I tried to bluff.  "I'm not sure where that is.  You know how it is when you move!  Things just get put in weird places!"  "Well," she'd reply, "I hope you find it."

The conversation would start fresh in a few minutes.  "Have you seen my hat?"  I'd repeat, "I'm not sure where that is.  You know how it is when you move!  Things just get put in weird places!"

Then it would spread from my heart and consume my whole being...


Even though I hadn't actually SEEN the hat in a year, I had a pretty good idea where it was.  This morning, I lugged a stepladder upstairs and pulled down the 3 remaining boxes of Meems' Christmas treasures.  It was in the third and final box.  Dang it.  Oops!  I meant to say, "Praise Jesus!"  I brightened at the thought that the old hat had lost its magic powers.  It hasn't. 

It's in perfect shape.  So, today I will present the hat to Meems when I go for my daily visit.  To the staff of Wedgewood South Assisted Living Center:  My apologies.  This hat will drive you crazy.  This hat will also light up 90 YO Meems' face.  She will grin from ear to ear.

Here it is.  The hat.  Feliz Blah-Blah-Blah to you, my friend.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Is That My Christmas Tree?

Meem's assisted living facility is decorated so beautifully for Christmas.  Little elves tiptoed in and made magic happen just after Thanksgiving.  Magic, I'm tellin' ya.  Magic.  About once a week during my visits with Meems, we take a Tour de Trees.  This is what happens...
Meems:  Is that my Christmas tree?
["My" means the tree from her house in Waco]
Me:  Kinda.  You have to share it with everyone else.
Meems:  Good.
Meems:  Is that my Christmas tree?
Me:  It sure looks like your tree, but I
think that your tree was shorter.
Meems:  That's right.
Meems:  Is that my Christmas tree?
Me:  Ummmmm.  Maybe.
Meems:  It sure looks like it.
[aforementioned Waco tree was NOT as snowman tree]

Meems:  Is that my Christmas tree?
Me:  I don't remember your tree having so
many legs sticking out of it.

Meems:  Is that my Christmas tree?
Me:  You know, it just might be...
Meems:  It looks like mine.
[The Waco tree did have some blue ornaments...]
Me:  It sure does look like it might be yours!

These exchanges remind me of the children's book by P.D. Eastman, "Are You My Mother?"  Some days when Meems is so sleepy she can't keep her eyes open for more than 15 seconds, I want to ask, "Are you my mother?"  The mother who worked hard from dawn 'til dark-thirty grading papers, cutting out a pants suit pattern, and raking leaves?  Or, when she can't remember the names of any of her friends from Waco?  Are you my mother?  There was a time when she could list everyone she saw at church and what each lady wore and who wore it best.   Or, when she doesn't know what time of day it is.  Are you my mother?  In days gone by, she could guess the time within about 15 minutes by observing the sky and the rumblings in her tummy.  

When she gives me little love pats while she hugs me, I know.  When she tells me that I was the "hardest" baby she gave birth to and that she felt better the second I was born, I know.  When her face lights up with a smile.  I know.  When she tells me that I need to find the store that is selling ladies' boots for $7 and asks me to buy a pair for her and a pair for myself, I know.  (There is no Lubbock store selling boots for $7.)

I wish that the assisted living elves could recreate her Waco Christmas tree with all of its pretty pinks and soft blues and pale greens and the one green pickle ornament.  I'd roll her little wheelchair up really close to its boughs, turn on some Bing Crosby Christmas tunes, and let her soak in the beauty of her memories.  Yes.  That's your Christmas tree.  Yes.  That's my mother.  Magic.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Meems' Hit Parade

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a Spotify playlist on my phone titled "Mom's Favorites."   To keep her brain juicy and active, I will from time to time ask her to name great songs that she remembers.  Sometimes she draws a blank.  Other times, a random tune pops into her head, and I immediately add it to the list.

Here's a little Casey Kasem countdown for your afternoon entertainment.

Starting with #10...

10.  You Made Me Love You (I Didn't Want To Do It)

This song reminds me of the story she tells about dating a Filipino after the war.  I call him Phil Ipino.  He played in a dance band.  Her daddy told her that she could marry Phil, but that he (her dad) would have to get a 2nd job to support them.  She has told this story all of my life.  The main character became a Filipino a couple of years ago.  Until then, he was a regular old guy.  Hmmm.  She dated a Filipino right after WWII in Nachitodoches, TX.  I'll bet.

9.  Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)

I downloaded the Glenn Miller version with the long big band intro.  My favorite part - "No-No-No-No!"  I had never really listened to the lyrics before.  Now that I've heard the song about 27 times, I have fallen in love with it.  It's a song about being separated by war and the fear that your guy will fall in love with some cute, blonde German chick.  "You're on your own where there is no phone, and I can't keep tabs on you!"  I wonder what present-day lyrics would read.  I doubt that there would be mention of sitting under any kind of fruit tree.  "No-No-No-No!"

8.  Mi Mancherai (randomly picked) - Andrea Bocelli

She wanted a song by that blind guy with the pretty voice.

7.  Edelweiss (From The Sound of Music)

I added this one.  She likes show tunes.  I love Christopher Plummer.

6.  I Could Have Danced All Night (From My Fair Lady)

I thought that she would recognize it.  She didn't.  She kept asking me if it was a song from Wicked.

5.  Popular (From Wicked)

She is a huge fan of Wicked.  She thinks that this song is HEEEE-larious.  I sing "But, not quite as popular as MEEEEEEEEMS!" at the end.  She likes that.

4.  My Strongest Suit (From Aida)

She and I saw Elton John's Aida on Broadway years ago.  This song has very funny, clever lyrics.  Again, she thinks this song is HEEEE-larious.

Now We're Getting to the Good Stuff...

3.  Always - Deanna Durbin

Meems sang this at a friend's wedding.  That's one life event that is forever forged in her memory.

2.  When the Lights Go On Again - Vera Lynn

"When the lights go on again all over the world, and the boys are home again all over the world..."  Meems sang this at her high school graduation in 1940.  Her big brother, Jimmy, was away fighting that war.  According to Mom, "ALL the boys were gone."  One of her teachers told her that her voice sounded just like Deanna Durbin's which would by today's standards would have been Barbra Streisand or Celine Dion.  Another forged memory.

Here it is, folks!  
Meems' numero uno (for no apparent reason) request!

1.  76 Six Trombones (From The Music Man)

I. Have. No. Idea.  I didn't grow up hearing Mom belting out, "Double bell euphoniums and big bassoons!  EACH BASSOON!  Having his BIG FAT SAY!"  But every single time, I get out my phone and ask her for requests from her playlist she murmurs, "76 Trombones."  That is, until yesterday when I tried to authenticate this request by videoing her.

Actually, 76 Trombones digs down to a memory planted deeply within her cerebrum.  My sister.  "Kathy sure loved the silver trombone I bought her."  My little blonde-headed sister with a smile that glinted silver with braces chose to play the trombone when she joined the band way back in Junior High.  After a couple of years of playing with a rented trombone, Mom decided that Kathy was serious about tromboning.  Our little mother saved up her school teacher salary and bought Kathy a silver trombone.  They were both so proud of it.  I hated that thing.  Its belches echoed loudly throughout our tiny house.  

However, I do wish I still had that trombone.  I'd take it to Wedgewood South every afternoon and let Meems hold it in her lap.  We'd listen to 76 Trombones, and she'd smile and smile.  

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

8:00, 12:00, and 5:00

4:10 PM.  Nearly Suppertime.

I go by to see Meems every afternoon between 3 and 4.  At Wedgewood South, they have special activities at 2 in the afternoon, so I wait until the afternoon lull for my visit.  

Sometimes we sit in the large common area and watch "Deal or No Deal."  My "depression child" mother always advises the contestants to take the first lowball deal that is offered.  "But Mom!  There might be a million bucks in the case he selected!  He can't settle for $8500!"  "Eighty-five hundred dollars is better than nothing," she murmurs.

Other days we go sit out in the shade of the porch so that Mom can feel the breeze on her pink cheeks and hear the birds trilling in the trees.  I made a playlist of Mom's favorite tunes on my phone.  I won't tell you what her numero uno favorite is.  There is a whole other blog coming with that amusing tidbit.  We sing.  We reminisce.

Before long, Meems reaches over to her left wrist and holds her watch face up close to her eyes.  "Is it almost dinnertime?" she'll ask.  A quick glance at my watch reveals that she has more than an hour until chow time.  "Nope!  You've got lots of time to enjoy my presence!"  "Well.  I don't like to be late.  I like to be there early."  I tease her by telling her that the commute from the porch to the dinner table is all of about 30 seconds long.  "We can leave in 59 minutes and have time to spare!"  She quiets for a bit.

Two minutes later.  "Is it almost dinnertime?"

The funny thing is, she's not asking because she's hungry.  In fact, the caregivers have to encourage her to "take 3 more bites" before she can have her dessert.  It's not about being hungry.  It's about predictability.  Five minutes after the meal is over, she will not be able to remember what she ate.  Not even what she had for dessert.  Sometimes when I'm with her at meal time, she'll ask me mid-meal if she's eating  breakfast or dinner.  The fact that there is a hunk of meat loaf suspended in midair on her fork does not provide the slightest context clue that she might be in the middle of supper.

She does know this.  "We eat at 8:00, 12:00 and 5:00."  Every time she tells me this as if it's news hot off the press, I feel a twinge of comfort knowing that she still has a bit of a time table in her mind.  That simple bit of awareness means that part of my mom is still in there.  She can still sing most of the national anthem and she knows what time meals are served.  

If she's showing off, she can tell you that they have "Fun and Fitness" in the mornings and a fun activity in the afternoon.  I felt especially proud one day when she was able to tell me that she had to be at the "movies" (aka chapel) at 2:00 because they were going to watch a movie about a dolphin with no tail.  AND, they got FREE popcorn and a coke at the movie!

I remember when my boys had to learn our home address in kindergarten.  I made up a chant.  "Fifty SIX oh FIVE Eighty FOURTH..Street."  I was so proud when each boy learned that tidbit of useful information.  I get that same feeling of pride when Mom remembers the tail-less dolphin and the times for meals.  I almost jumped with joy last week when she recited my home phone number for no apparent reason.  And, like so long ago with my little boys she felt pretty proud, too.

At the end of my visit when I start to say goodbye, I know exactly what she's going to ask.  "Will you roll me to the table?"  "But, Mom, wouldn't you rather sit by the TV?  It's about 50 minutes until supper."  "No.  I don't like to be late."  So, I roll her to the table and lock the wheels of her wheelchair.  Slowly, she brings the terry cloth bib Wilshire Place so thoughtfully provides around her neck and gently presses the velcro together.  I give her lots of hugs and kisses before asking, "When are you going to see me again?"  "Tomorrow!" she replies beaming.  "That's right!  Tomorrow!"

Then, I walk towards the door.  I usually take one more look back at her.  She's facing a wall.  Her tablemates won't be wheeled in for a long while.  She's totally content to stare at nothing or simply cat nap.  The lump in my throat almost chokes me every time.  

She's content.  She knows what time meals are served.  She can call me at home and sing the national anthem to me anytime she pleases.  She still enjoys movies, popcorn and Coke.  I feel honored to still have time with her here on earth.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Purse

Her favorite.  "It goes with everything." 

No matter how many times I've explained to Meems that Wedgewood South is an "all-inclusive resort" that doesn't allow tipping, she just feels better if she has her purse with her at all times.  Every now and then, she thinks she's eating in a school cafeteria and feels compelled to give $1.25 to the lunch lady.  The purse.  It's common for women with dementia to hold on to this last vestige of identity.  And, the contents of those purses fascinate me.

A toddler fills her purse with small toys and gummy bears and, perhaps, a TV remote.  During the twilight years as the mind begins to dim, purses tend to become more and more empty except for the occasional random penny coated with lint, an ancient gum wrapper, or a wadded piece of Kleenex.  The tug of the weight of a handbag resting in the crook of an arm provides security and identity to  both toddler and senior alike.  But for an elderly lady with days upon days filled with the feeling that something is missing, a handbag becomes more of a lovey or a pacifier.

One of the ladies that lives in the "all-inclusive" resort with Meems dresses immaculately.  Coordinating blouses and pants, sometimes with a nice jacket, are her trademarks.  She wears rather large clip-on earrings that are ornate and colorful.  Same earrings every day.  I've heard tell that the small purse that she carries daily is totally and completely empty.  She regularly takes up her purse and wanders the facility asking "Is this where I live?" and "Can you show me which apartment is mine?"  

About a month ago, a broken hip left her wheelchair bound.  Her purse, now nestled next to her lap, has become her constant companion like a lap dog.  Same neat, matchy-matchy clothing.  Same earbobs.

Meems' near empty purse has a hollow echo.  I can tell you with 97% absolute certainty what you would find in it on any given day:  2-3 wadded up pieces of Kleenex, her huge plastic dark glasses that she wears over her regular glasses, a tube of coral lipstick, and, in the matching coin purse that came with the bag, quarters.  Lots and lots of quarters.  If you've already guessed that she likes to sit out on the porch on sunny days, feels undressed without lip color and has a constantly runny nose, you are very astute.  I'll bet the quarters have you baffled.

Bingo Winnings
At Wedgewood South, Bingos and Blackouts are rewarded with quarters.  My mother is very good at Bingo.  She can't even read the numbers on the cards, and she's good at Bingo.  Her coin purse is heavy with her winnings.  Every week or two, I put the quarters in a baggie and bring them home for safe keeping.  I stack them in 4's so that I can keep a tally of her earnings in my mind at all times.  She's up to $15.  Really, she's up to about $20.  I gave my niece, Kelly, about 20 quarters a while back to use as laundry money.  "Mom!  You're up to $20 in Bingo winnings!"  That always gets a triumphant smile.

The 3% of uncertainty regarding what else might be in her purse is reserved for any random thing that she happens to absently throw in her bag like a few checkers used to cover the giant numbers on the Bingo cards or a used dinner napkin or a "Happy Fourth of July!" card she received in the mail.  It is those unexpected treasures that make my heart smile.

At the age of 90, if the building catches on fire, Kleenex, king-sized dark glasses, a tube of coral lipstick, a few quarters and a couple of red checkers will be all she needs to navigate the world.  Life is easy.  Life is simple.  I've got her back.  My purse, thank goodness, is pretty full.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Soft Place to Fall

I stop by to check on Meems every day.  Most days I find her parked in front of the TV in the common room sleeping.  Sometimes, she's asleep in front of a window.  Macular degeneration has robbed her of idle pleasures like watching Lifetime movies and working jigsaw puzzles.  Sleep makes hours go by.

She can't see who I am until I'm right next to her.  I tap her leg gently and lean my face towards hers.  Her eyes slowly open, and then, her face slowly blossoms into the most beautiful smile.  Melts my heart every time.

"You came to see me, " she'll say.  
"Yep.  I was missing you, so I came by for a hug," I'll say.

"I'm glad you're here," she'll say.
"Me, too," I'll say.

These visits with my sweet, tender mother who gives love pats while she hugs have become my soft place to fall.  Life is very uncomplicated in her world.  My world swirls with emails, phone calls, and people.  Her world is quiet and peaceful.

I pull her wheelchair up close to my chair so that we can hold hands during my visit or she can pat on me.  She tells me a bit about her day.  Bingo.  Fun and Fitness.  Someone came and played the piano.  For my mother who once lived life in technicolor, the pace of her new residence is perfect.  The clock ticks slowly.  Meals are served at 8AM, noon, and 5PM.  

"It's almost dinnertime," she'll say.  
"It's only 4 o'clock," I'll say.
"I like to get there early," she'll say, "Will you roll me to the table before you leave?"

Sitting there at her place at the table for an hour is comforting to her.  Breaks my heart a little bit every time.  But, she is content.  

Every day she says, "They take good care of me here." And, that makes me feel content.  They brush her hair.  They help her apply her favorite coral lipstick.  They spritz her with perfume.

Grateful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel.

I consider this time with her an undeserved blessing from God.  Many of my friends have lost their parents.  Some are dealing unpleasant issues involved in caring for aging parents.  And, the issues are many.  Among my many blessings is the fact that she has aged with a sweet disposition.  My dad was a whole different story.  His passing was like a huge burden lifted off my shoulders.  He was unhappy all day every day and very vocal about his circumstances.  I've learned that a good disposition is a gift you give to your children.

Gosh, I'm making myself cry right now.  Guess I'd better head over to Meems' for some huggin' and pattin'.  Come join me.  However, I must give you fair warning.  You will leave her presence feeling sleepy and relaxed.  Very, very sleepy.  Tenderly relaxed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Death by Catfish

Imagine, if you will, a tiny grandmother.  A tiny grandmother ready for bedtime at 7PM all snug in her nylon coral nightgown, matching coral slippers and favorite well-worn cornflower blue bathrobe with a missing belt loop.  On this particular evening you can hear the soft shh-shh-shh of her slippers as the sweet grandmother, still perfumed with roses from showering with 10-year-old "good soap," crosses the linoleum towards the cozy sitting area of her kitchen with its pale yellow painted 1970's wood paneling to settle in for the evening. 

In this little kitchen haven there is a prissy yellow floral loveseat - covered, mind you, with white throws purchased not for warmth, but instead, but specifically for the protection of the fabric of the prissy yellow floral loveseat.  There are rules, people.  One simply does not sit on the actual fabric of a couch or chair.  Fabric-sitting is a special honor bestowed on guests over the age of 18 who are NOT consuming messy food items or red beverages.   This "lovelyseat" is flanked on either side by white wicker armchairs with matching yellow floral seat cushions (protected by pink bath towels) and pillows.

This tiny grandmother sits not on the custom, decorator furniture.  Noooooo.  Instead, she heads toward her TV chair, a random, uncomfortable by the lowest standards, wicker armchair proudly purchased half-price on the 3rd day of some estate sale.  The Hobby Lobby floral chair pad situated on the stepchild chair doesn't match the other neatly covered furniture in the room.  It bears no pink towel protection.  Half-price Hobby Lobby pillows don't get no respect.

The TV chair is placed strategically 2 feet in front of the boxy 32" Sony Trinitron.  It is here that the dainty grandmother with waning eyesight sits leaning slightly forward intent on the glowing screen.  Is she watching HGTV or something on the food channel?  

Nope.  RIVER MONSTERS.  This tiny grandmother, Meems, is an avid fan.

Meems has an ever-dwindling repertoire of bits of stories, and she interjects them randomly into casual conversation.  Her lastest include:  "Stop Light Winker" (a tale of love that began with a wink from a stranger), "Bear Attacks: Is Playing Dead the Best Defense?" and, "Death by Catfish."

The "Death by Catfish" Tale in its Entirety and I Quote

There was a girl going to school in her canoe, and a catfish knocked the canoe over and ate her.  Some catfish can eat people.  I saw it on TV.
The End

Sample Catfish-Infested Conversation:

Person:  It sure has been windy the past few days.
Other Person:  Yeah, it sure has.  I think that a cold front is moving in.
Person:  Really?  When is...
Meems (interrupting):  There was a girl going to school in her canoe, and a catfish knocked the canoe over and ate her.  Some catfish can eat people.  I saw it on TV.

Just the other day when I was visiting Meems, a caregiver stopped me to inquire about man-eating catfish.  Meems' ears pricked up, and she took it from there.  "There was a girl going to school in her canoe, and a catfish knocked the canoe over and ate her.  Some catfish can eat people.  I saw it on TV."

This morning at 4:45 I woke up thinking about the girl, the canoe and the catfish.  So, I rolled out of my warm bed and headed to the computer to google up some truth.  I found this:  GIANT MAN-EATING CATFISH FINALLY CAUGHT IN MEKONG RIVER.  Take a look.  There are pictures.  Then, scroll down to the bottom of that page.  Note the click-bait: ISRAEL: CASE OF VIRGINAL CONCEPTION BAFFLES DOCTORS AND SCIENTISTS;  REMAINS OF NAZI OFFICER FOUND INSIDE 100 YEAR OLD GIANT CATFISH; and BRAZIL: FAN KILLED BY POLICE FOR BRINGING PEPSI BOTTLE TO WORLD CUP GAME.  It all sounds pretty legit.

I know what you're mumbling.  I already did.  Snopes says nope.  No man-eating catfish.  No girl-in-canoe-eating catfish.  I imagine that the girl in the canoe was munching on fried catfish and choked on a bone.  The end.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Balloon Volleyball Champ-E-Yun

Balloon volleyball is hands down the Meems' favorite pastime.  She became an aficionado back in the late 90's during the weeks on end she spent in the Baylor Hospital Bone Marrow Transplant unit with my sister, Kathy.  Once a week, the activities specialist would arrange the patients (most in wheelchairs) in a circle and instruct them to keep the balloon in the air as long as they could.  They would count it!...two!...three!...  "Let's try to beat our record of 30!  Can you guys hit it 35 times without letting it drop to the ground?!"  

My sister was too weak to scratch her nose much less put some muscle behind whacking a balloon.  Mom, on the other hand, played vigorously by Kathy's side.  I attributed Mom's enthusiasm for the "sport" to the sheer boredom she experienced day in day out rarely seeing the light of day as she sat by Kathy's side.  Seriously, balloon volleyball and the Thursday ice cream sundae party were the highlights of her weekly existence.  

This afternoon, I challenged Meems to a savage game of volleyball with the balloon that the occupational therapist left in her room.  Her eyes lit up as she accepted the challenge.  We batted the Happy Birthday balloon back and forth for a bit before she held on to the balloon and slowly leaned towards me.  I slowly leaned towards her because the "lean in" is usually accompanied by some random little juicy tidbit she needs to tell me.

This is where I need you to envision sloth-like slowness.  S.    L.    O.    T.    H.    -    L.    I.    K.    E.    S.    L.    O.    W.    N.    E.    S.    S.

Tidbit 1:  "I was in pain every day while I was pregnant with you."  [sloth pause - I know that there's more coming because she's still leaning in.]  "The minute you were born, I felt better." 

Tidbit 2:   "We were camping and they shot some cannons to scare the bears."  She just left that nugget hanging there.  [I was there when it happened.  Let me just say this about that.  The park rangers should have been ashamed of themselves for not posting signs to warn innocent campers that they would be awakened in the night by what sounded like gunshots.  Ashamed, I tell you!]

In the middle of a long successions of volleys, she quietly said, "Try hitting it with just your left hand."  [sloth pause]  "I'm going to use both of mine."  She plays dirty.

Tidbit 3:  "If you see a bear, you're supposed to lie down and play dead."

Our longest volley was 57 balloon hits.  According to Meems, she and the OT had only gotten to 35 during her last therapy session.

Tidbit 4:  "Balloon volleyball is a good workout."  [sloth pause]  "You should play it every day to lose weight."  I would have to play all day every day with a Balloon Volleyball World Champ to see any such loss of weight.

Tidbit 5:  "Wanda just had one labor pain, and then Sherry was born.  And, she only had one child."  

Tidbit 6:  "There was a woman on a farm that just dropped a baby.  I'll bet that hurt."  When questioned, Meems clarified that the woman didn't drop her baby like a sack of potatoes.  She gave birth to the baby.  You know...dropped it.

We played volleyball for 20 minutes.  It was then time for her to roll to the dinner table.  I could have played for another hour just to hear her interesting random tidbits.  I take great delight in hearing the thoughts that bubble up from her dimming mind.  It's like looking into a box of faded pictures.  You can remember that there were vivid colors, sights and sounds that day.  But, memory fades.

As I was leaving, she leaned in one last time.  "You don't have to come visit me every day,"  [sloth pause]  "but, I'd be disappointed if you didn't."  

I wouldn't miss these visits for the world.  
     A.  I apparently need the exercise.  
     B.  I might miss a juicy tidbit.
     C.  I need all the reminders I can get about Bear Safety.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Forever Nathaniel

Yesterday was one of my favorite days.  Meems was in rare form.  Most days, she's really drowsy and offers quiet one word answers.  "Good."  "Fine."  Then, there are the days when she's wide-eyed, smiling, and yackety-yack-yacking.  When I see those bright blue eyes shining at me, I know we're in for a joy ride of crazy-talking and laughter.  

Unfortunately, this gaiety comes with a price.  It usually signals the presence of some sort of infection in her body or a tiny blip in electrical activity in her brain.  So, I mustn't neglect the fact that somethin' ain't right.  Once infections are ruled out, fingers point towards her progressing dementia - "good days and bad days."

So, yesterday.  I walked into the rehab facility where Mom is trying to master her healing broken hip and saw her sitting alone in her wheelchair at one of the dining tables.  She was ready for lunch.  It was 11:10.  Lunch is at noon.

I walked up and gave her my usual greeting, "Hey!"  Her face lit up with a smile that was nothing short of radiant.  Her gray-blue eyes sparkled as she returned my "Hey!"  

Me:  You look ready for lunch!

Meems:  I am, but I'm not going to eat much because if I open my mouth too wide, I might throw up.

Me:  That doesn't sound good...

Meems:  It's not.  I have to be very careful.  Where did YOU sleep last night?

Me:  At home.  In bed.  With Alan.  My husband.  What about YOU?  Where did YOU sleep last night?

Meems:  In my bed.  Did anybody sleep with me?

Me:  Lord, I hope not.  

Mom [pointing at a nearby CNA]:  What's his name?  He's really sweet to me!

I had to repeat his name several times because she just couldn't quite pronounce it.  

Me:  Demus.  DEEEE MUS.  D-E-M-U-S.

Mom:  Oh!  Like NicoDEMUS.

Me:  Yes.  But. It's just DEMUS.

Mom:  Where did he sleep last night?

One day when I was there during a time of bright-eyed confusion, she suddenly went from smiling to an unseen somber place.  She leaned over towards me and in a low voice asked, "Are things better at home?"  I asked her what she meant.  "You know.  The 'situation.'"  I probed her a bit to see what situation she might be thinking of.  I couldn't for the life of me think of a concerning situation in my household.  She grinned slightly and said, "I think you know what I mean."  Then, leaning closer she whispered, "Has Alan cried yet?"  She spent the rest of the afternoon probing into my "situation."  "Do the boys know?"  "Have you told anybody else?"  I still get cold chills thinking about it.  And, I still have no idea.

Yesterday was great.  No cryptic questions or knowing glances.  She was just wanted to know where everyone had slept the night before.  For some reason, she was really fascinated with the CNA, Demus.  I had to repeat his name to her 142 times.  "What's his name?  I already forgot."  She told me that she likes Demus because he's big and strong and never drops her (when transferring her from wheelchair to bed...).  He's a big ol' boy, and she has grown to trust him.  

She has renamed him "Nathaniel."  I think that she went to "NicoDEMUS" and took a left turn wandering towards the "N-A" baby names or something.  She never forgets his name now.  For she has dubbed him Nathaniel and forever Nathaniel it will be.


Mom's orthopedic surgeon is pleased with the way her hip is healing.  For the first time in 5 weeks, she can begin to bear 50% weight on it.  She should be out of rehab in the next week or so.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

In Which Meems Breaks Her Hip

The home phone jolted me awake at 11:30 last night.  Caller ID:  Wilshire Place.  That's where Meems lives.  They've been calling often lately.  "Your mom slipped out of bed, but she's fine."  This time the news was more complicated.  Mom fell and was in pain.  Her leg was twisted at a weird angle.  Ugh.

The night staff put Mom on the phone.  Quietly and calmly she murmured, "I think I broke something."   Indeed, she did.  According to her PCP, "She broke the hell out of her hip."  

The surgery didn't last long, and the surgeon said that they were able to get plenty of rods and pins in there to keep her together.  Her femur is now fortified with a metal rod.  A long metal rod.  The recovery will be long and painful.  

She's really groggy this evening.  However, she ate a big supper.  "Did I miss breakfast and lunch?"  Yup.  You did.

Before they took her to the surgical floor, she slowly opened her eyes and asked me what she should wear to surgery.  I told her that the lovely green dress she was wearing would be just fine.  When the guys came to transport her, she asked them if she would have to walk to the OR.

This evening as she was becoming more aware, she looked at me and said, "We got a good nap, didn't we?"

Thank you, God, for little bits of humor during this long day.  You know how humor centers and comforts me.  You know the way to my heart.  Amen.


Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...