Sunday, February 10, 2008

Old Folks Say the Darndest Things

I had a big day planned for Mom: church as usual at 9:30 am, then a visit to my house where I planned to vacuum my floors and make waffles with strawberries and whipped cream on them. My sister-in-law Lee was planning to drive here from Malibu after church there with her five-year-old twin daughters, and I knew that Mom enjoys seeing the twins.

After church we wheeled to a market, bought the strawberries and whipped cream, and rushed home, where I vacuumed as she sat at the table eating grapes. Having been awake since 8 am or earlier, she tired of sitting in her wheel chair and fell asleep at the table, slouched in her chair. I kept cleaning and was just ready to start the waffles when she woke and said, "When are the twins coming?"

"I thought they'd be here by one o'clock, but they aren't here yet," I answered. "Are you tired of waiting?"

"Yes, I'm tired. I want to sit in my big chair," she said. "Just take me home. I want to go back."

I paused in my busy-ness and considered whether to convince her to stay so she could enjoy the fun or accept her desire just to take a nap. How soon would they come? Could I set her up to sleep in a chair in the living room and wait for them? Then I got a text message from John saying Lee wouldn't arrive until after 2 pm.

"Okay, I can take you back if you want to go," I concluded with disappointment. All my lovely plans down the drain—like a baby, she needed her nap on schedule and couldn't hang in there for another hour. Because I had given to Good Will the recliner I used to keep for her at our house, there was no convenient place for her to sleep. It would be an effort to get her onto a bed and then get her back up an hour later.

On the way home, she said, "I saw Reynold today. He's here… how about that!"

"Yes, how about that!" I answered. (He died in 2004.)

Back at her residence, I took her to the bathroom, then set her up in her recliner with a cheeseburger and fries and a milkshake because I hadn't really given her any lunch yet.

"Reynold came to see his little sister," she continued, and I reflected on the possibility that he might indeed have visited her.

After eating half the burger and fries, she started choking and coughed some of it back up.

"I'm choking to death!" she said. "I'm choking to death!"

"No, you're not dying," I countered. "You're okay. You just choked."

"I'm choking to death! It's awful to die."

"No, you're okay," I insisted. "You don't want the rest of this? Here, I'll extend your recliner. You can just take a little nap."

"Just take a nap to die," she repeated in a sing-song voice. "Just take a nap to die."

"No, you're not dying!"

"I never died before. It must be fun, don't you think?"

"Yes, maybe," I said, tucking a blanket around her and winding the back of a musical doll to sit on her lap.

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine," the doll's bright notes began.

Mom started singing the song with it: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are blue…."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looking back, it is easy to see so many things. Its like being in the mountains, sometimes the air is so thin that you don't see each little amazing thing around you. You just want to get down so that your lungs can fill with air and the headache goes away. But its not the same as being up there, and living up there.
Who is demented--us or them?

So I have a new phrase to describe Mom's peace with her situation. Really she spent much of her life in high anxiety and there at the end, she was just 'being' and living in the moment. Except for transitions she was glad to share the moment, the tv, the old stories . That was enough. I am grateful as we did have a turbulent relationship. Some psych paid for a new addition to their house on all the therapy, I'm sure. But Mom and I got so that we didn't wear each other out. We each had our space adn that was good.
So my new phrase is "Contented Demented." I have a poem about it for future generations, for someday I too will lose some of that precious gray matter. Along with it, I hope to lose my fears and those things that hold me back from living in the moment. I will become "dementedly contented." And it will be very good.
Then I shall die. And that, too, will be good.