Mom's pain threshold seems to be dropping. When I push her wheelchair on city streets, every small bump causes a sharp cry from her.
Today she had another dreaded blood test to check her coagulation level because she is on Coumadin.
She wanted to go for ice cream afterward, so off we went toward the Rite-Aid for a 99-cent cone.
Butter pecan is always her favorite. I pulled an 18"x 24" plastic bed pad out of the bag hanging on the back of her wheelchair to use as a bib and tucked it in around her neck.
Soon we were outside in front of the store eating our cones, mine a mint chocolate chip.
"Lick around the edge of the cone," I kept urging her, but she can no longer accomplish this feat.
She kept taking bites out of the top while the ice cream dripped onto the cone and her fingers.
A year ago she could do that if I reminded her, but now her tongue can't do the motion.
Her speech also is often incomprehensible because her mouth and tongue just don't work as efficiently to create the words. On bad days her mouth hangs open, her lips and tongue only moving slightly, while the sound comes out unbroken by letters like t, k, b, p.
From the intonation and vowels, I can usually tell what she is saying.
We stood in the sun happily, eating our cones at 5 pm, much to the interest of mothers and children entering the store.
But then, halfway through her cone, she said, "I don't want any more. You can throw it out."
This has never happened before. She always finishes an ice cream cone, sometimes even successfully tearing the paper off the bottom before popping it in her mouth.
There was still a good-sized mound of ice cream on top of the cone.
"Okay, fine," I said. "It's dinner time anyway. That way you'll have more room for meat and vegetables."
"I'm not going to dinner," she said.
"Yes, you really need to eat your meat and vegetables," I said.
She has been losing weight recently, eating only half of her meals and sometimes refusing to go to meals. Her weight is now 114 pounds, including her heavy black ankle-height shoes. About six months ago she was 133 pounds.
I removed the bib and put it in a trash can, along with the napkins we had used.
We went back to her residence, where I washed her hands and face and took her to dinner.
She started eating the chicken noodle soup, and I went home.
But I realized she had passed a new milestone in her physical decline.