Small spots on the floor or rug worry Mom. In fact, anything that is uneven or out of place worries her.
Because it is Sunday, I arrive just after 6 am to be her caregiver until 2 pm.
She wakes at 6:45 and I help her to sit up in bed and then to stand at her walker.
As I escort her into the bathroom, she comments about a small dark spot on the floor.
"I hate that black thing on the floor, and the other spots too --the dogs eat them and get poisoned and die."
I've noticed that spot for a while and tried to clean it up before without success.
Today it has to go. I start scraping at it with sharp scissors and 409 and a powdered cleanser. It turns out to be a bit of chewing gum. I get it all off and scrub a few other spots and streaks on the floor as well.
We drive to church and have a nice time. As we are driving home, she suddenly speaks.
"These stems are so crooked!"
"What stems?" I ask.
After a few more questions, I realize she is talking about the long row of palm trees outlined against the sky as we drive west on Santa Monica Boulevard. Yes, their tall trunks are all slightly crooked, not quite parallel to each other.
Yesterday it was a bit of white tissue on the rug that caught her attention, started a story in her mind, and had to be picked up and disposed of.
Last June when I posted a big note on her cupboard door outlining the rules for eating and swallowing after her hospitalization, it seemed to her to be a threatening note from bad people who were going to do something to her. I removed it.
A week ago the red light in a surge protector on the floor was the sign of danger.
When she uses her walker, the little zip pouch for things she might need has to hang exactly in the center of the front bar of the walker.
When she stands or sits, grabbing onto a bar in the bathroom or onto her walker, her rings have to be adjusted first. The stones might have slipped inside to her palm, but she moves each around: the diamond ring, the pearls, the opal.
As William Carlos Williams wrote in "The Red Wheelbarrow," so much depends on those rings being in the right place.
So much depends on there being no odd spots on the floor or pieces of paper posted anywhere in the room.