No matter how long I stay, it is never long enough.
Today I had a meeting at church from 9 am to 1 pm, and I hoped to drive to the San Fernando Valley for another event starting at 3 pm.
That meant I had about 1:30 to 2:15 pm to visit my mother, but she had a private caregiver coming from 2 to 10 pm so I felt that she would be fine.
The caregiver, Raquel, comes every Saturday and Sunday. She talks with Mom, takes her for a walk to the drug store to buy an ice cream cone, takes her to dinner, gives her a shower, watches Lawrence Welk with her at 7 pm, and helps her into bed at 9 pm.
When I arrived at 1: 30, I intended just to talk with Mom in her room for a while and then leave. She was sleeping in her recliner as usual when I arrived, covered by her pink velour blanket with the tied-together fringe.
"Hi, Mom," I began, kneeling down by her chair. "I'm here."
"Oh, thank goodness you finally came," she said as usual, opening her eyes and struggling to wake up. "I'm all ready to go."
"Good," I said. "You look sleepy. You've been taking a nap?"
"No, I was just waiting for you. I'm so bored here. I'm ready to go out."
"Okay, but I wasn't really planning on going anywhere."
"Don't I have to get poked today?"
"No, we did your blood test on Wednesday. We don't have to go there again today."
"Well, I don't care where we go. I just have to get out of here."
"Okay," I said, figuring I could take her for a walk while waiting for Racquel.
We began with a trip to the bathroom, as usual, and then I got her purse, her footrest extensions for the wheelchair, and her straw hat with the white silk scarf that wraps around her neck to hold it on.
"You look like Katherine Hepburn," the receptionist always tells her when she's wearing this hat.
When we were just about ready to leave, Racquel arrived, much to my relief. That meant I could send them off together to get the ice cream cone after I got them started and went to the car to get money for the ice cream.
I escorted them to the front garden of Ocean View Assisted Living, where I left them while I went to my car.
Then I put the money in Mom's wallet and explained that I had to leave.
"To go take care of John," Mom said.
"Yes, to see what he's up to," I lied.
Just about the only reason she can see for parting with me is John or my kids. She admits that they need me, that she has to share me with them. But for any other event, she demands, "Take me with you."
I said my goodbyes and sent them off down the block. It was just 2:30 pm, so I still had a chance to get to North Hollywood in time for the Mass to be celebrated by newly ordained Roman Catholic women priests.