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.


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...