Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Missing Rings

It's a great day: no doctor appointments or PT for Mom, just PT for me at 3 pm. But I have the news that she has a serious urinary tract infection.

I arrive at 2:30 pm to take her down for the music program, every Wednesday at 3 pm. Usually they don't take her to that--after all, they have 28 people they could bring to the first floor for it, and she likes to sleep in her recliner in the afternoon.

When I find her and bring her down for it, I immediately notice that her opal ring, usually on the ring finger of her right hand, is missing. In its place are the silver diamond ring and wedding band from her left hand. Her three-pearl ring is on the wrong hand too.
"Where are your rings?" I ask her.
"Take my rings off," she says with agitation. "They're going to steal them. I want to give them to my granddaughters."
I'm confused: did she removed the rings, or did some member of the staff steal them?
I leave a note in the Reminiscence Neighborhood office asking about this, and very quickly Elisa comes to talk to me: "She was agitated today. She take her rings off. I look in her bed, find this one. I can't find the other one."
"Oh, thanks for telling me," I say. "I'll take her bed apart and look for the opal ring."
There it was, on the floor between the bed and the wall. I put it on my hand to take home.
I also took the three-pearl ring, her original engagement ring, worn all her life. No use letting that get lost. Now her only rings are her wedding band with diamond and the other gold band that went with the pearl ring.
After leaving her at the music, I went to PT.
Then I came back at 4:15 pm to check on her. She was exhausted from sitting downstairs for the music since 2:30 pm. Actually, she was too sleeply for dinner.
"I don't want any dinner," she said. "I want to sit in my chair."
I felt that she had to go to dinner, so after toileting I took her into the dining room, even though she was saying, "No, no. I don't want to go to dinner. I want to go to your house."
"Not today," I said, but I was feeling guilty. I really hadn't spent any time with her, and she has a serious bladder infection.
She continued to whimper and to say, "Don't leave me here! I want to go with you. I don't want to eat dinner."
Marnie, the head caregiver, came up to her and said, "I have soup. You like your soup, Evelyn."
"Yes," she agreed.
"I'll give you some soup," she said.
"Okay," Mom said.
"Enjoy your dinner," I said. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Can't you stay with me?" she asked.
"No, I have to cook dinner," I said. "Marie's waiting for me."
I slipped out of the dining room and off to the elevator to punch in the code that enables my escape from her demands, from the Reminiscence Neighborhood.
But my heart sank with sympathy for her demands as I walked off: she is sick with an infection, confused, just wants to be with me or at my house.
Spending time there caring for her or taking her to appointments is difficult, but leaving is difficult too.
Always I have the feeling that I have not done enough, that she would like me to stay longer.
She's miserable, and I leave feeling miserable about abandoning her.
There's no respite from that sadness. There's only the conviction that I need to take care of myself and accomplish some of my own goals in any given day.
But it's so hard.

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