Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hooray: Walking and Talking

After Mom's plea on Sunday--"I want to walk so badly"--I was determined to do my best to make that happen.
That evening when I took her back to Ocean View, I tried having her walk from her recliner to the toilet, a distance of about 12 feet around a corner. She hadn't done this since August because of her hospitalization in September.
I put her walker in front of her, pulled her up to stand at it, and bore part of her weight as she laboriously shuffled into the bathroom. It was difficult because her back is so bent. In order to avoid falling forward, she leans backward and never gets her full weight balanced on her feet.
Also her feet seemed to have forgotten how to move. They are turned in, instead of pointing forward, and with each step she tended to move to the right rather than forward.
We made it, however, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, she did better each day, bearing more of her own weight and moving her feet more appropriately.
On Tuesday night Bill called her and had a great conversation. She reported all kinds of news to him--rain, voting, and my husband moving from the night shift to days. Most of it was accurate.
On Wednesday we responded to a postcard she received from the University of Colorado asking her to call the Alumni Office and "ensure your Alumni Directory listing is completely accurate and up to date."
Instead of just checking her address and phone number, the pleasant man on the phone wanted to hear all about her life. Best of all, he didn't ask for the names and dates. He just said, "Is it true that you graduated from CU in 1947? With a BS? And earned a Master's in 1960? That you were a professor of nursing at the University of Maryland? That your husband's name was Kermit? That you have four children? What are their names?"
Most of the questions required only a yes or no answer gave her the opportunity to be proud of her education, her career, and her family. What an ideal scenario! They should call every day to verify their records.
Mom managed to come up with the names of her children and only once got off track, explaining that she now lived in California and adding, "You know, the Russians sold California to us...."
But all in all, she did a great job with the information check and was so pleased that an important man at the Unversity of Colorado wanted to know about her life.
That evening, trying to fill the last ten minutes before her caregiver arrived at 6 pm, I handed Mom a note pad and said, "Why don't you write a note to Roz?"
Writing would exercise her sore right hand as well as her mind. I expected her to write barely a word or two, asking me what she should say.
But to my amazement, she quickly wrote out the following note:
Dear Roz,
We went shop[ping] at your old place. now rain. I got to get a new striped blouse--against Anne's advice. Connie is here now so I'll have my shower--Anne & I cancelled each other's votes.
Love always,
Grandma Gussie
She had remembered a lot of things, accurately: shopping, rain, voting. A week earlier we had been to Beyond Sense, the gift shop where Roz used to work.
She had a life, I concluded. And she remembered it.

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