Woof

I decided to take Mom to lunch Tuesday. I didn’t tell her in advance, of course. These days, when I try to call her, I never catch her in her apartment. And she doesn’t call me anymore. I’d say it’s been a good six weeks since she has left a message on my work voice mail or called me during the day. I guess that ability is gone now.

When I went to pick her up, I could see through the facility glass doors that she was walking toward the door as I was walking up the sidewalk. She has started doing this more frequently – meeting me at the door. I can’t recall the last time she used my name, but she obviously knows my face. So I guess when she sees me, she just starts moving toward me. I noticed she had on a new outfit rather than the one I had dressed her in on Sunday. I was pleased about this – that meant the staffer who showered her also changed her clothes for her. She was also holding onto the stuffed dog Patrick and I gave her for her birthday. She said, “I’m going to bring him,” and I said, “Yes, of course, you should.” I was just tickled that she had that dog with her. This was exactly what I was hoping for, that she would see it as a companion.

We headed to Bob Evans. I ordered her the usual pot roast hash and I had a big spinach salad. When the meals arrived, she kind of looked at hers and she said, “What do I do with these?” – meaning the eggs placed on top of the meat and potatoes. I told her she could dig in anywhere. She ate around the eggs and finally broke one of the yolks. When that happened, she sort of muttered, “Oh, OK.” Like seeing the yolks break was familiar. The nurse told me last week that Mom didn’t seem to be eating very well. I was hoping that was just stress over the cat’s death. But perhaps she is losing some recall on how to eat, too. Once she got started, she seemed fine. She definitely knew how to use a straw to drink her Coke.

She placed the dog on the table right in front of her. Every now and then, she’d put her nose up close to his and say, “Woof.” I just thought this was terrific. I asked her if she was going to name him. This was a dumb question. She doesn’t remember any names. She said she hadn’t named him but that maybe she would. She also said, once, that the cat had come back. “Oh,” I said. “Wow.” I thought I would just let that go. I had no idea what made her think that was the case. She asked me how things are with me. I told her everything is fine. She didn’t ask with any nervousness, though, as if she were afraid I might be going away. More just making conversation. When we had left the facility, I asked her how she was doing. She said she was doing fine. “But some problem will come along soon enough,” she said. That cracked me up, which made her laugh. That is the Bonnie way of thinking: things are OK now, but this won’t last. It could be said that that is an Emily way of thinking, too. Wonder where I got that from?

We finished lunch fairly quickly, and had gotten there early, so I felt I should kill some time before I took her back to her place. “I won’t be able to eat much,” she said, which made me think she thought she was going to go back and go to lunch. I wanted to avoid any confusion like that. So I suggested we just take a little drive, which she thought sounded fine. On the way out of the restaurant, she showed two employees her dog. Both of them, the good sports that they were, told her how cute it was. Rather than be embarrassed about my senior citizen mom carrying around a stuffed animal, I was just gaga with pride. I didn’t notice any unusual stares, but I wouldn’t have cared if I did. My mom was happy, and that made me happy. In fact, I have said a few times since then that her spirits were about as good as they have been in a long time.

I drove through Clintonville to Whetstone Park, where we had been just a few weeks ago for Mom’s birthday. We admired the nice houses along the way, the people walking dogs, the trees. I drove through the library and recreation center parking lot so Mom could see kids playing on the swing set. I told Mom I used to be in plays at the rec center many years ago. And that I played T-ball as a little girl at the ballfields we drove by. And as we drove down the hill, I told her that the park hasn’t changed much over the years. And I told her there were lots of roses nearby, but I didn’t think we had enough time to look at them that day. I reminded her we had just been at the picnic area for her birthday a few weeks ago. I drove slowly, and sometimes we didn’t say anything. Mom sat quietly most of the time, and picked at her chin, a behavior she has had for a year or so. It was sort of meditative for me, and relaxing. I didn’t feel rushed, I didn’t feel frustrated, and I wasn’t worried about how Mom was feeling.

We got back to the facility just as Mom’s friends were coming out of lunch. Mom sat down on a couch in the lobby and placed her stuffed dog in the space next to her. I went to check her apartment. It was very clean – the carpet had been cleaned. It smelled pretty good. It was brighter. The housekeeper had tried to wash Mom’s curtains the day before because they were covered with cat hair. I don’t know what material they were, but the administrator e-mailed me to say the curtains didn’t come out of the washer in the same condition they went in. I assume they fell apart. I told him I didn’t care, not to worry, I commended the housekeeper for trying. I think I have an extra set. But really, the brightness of the apartment makes me think Mom doesn’t need new curtains for her last five weeks in the apartment. It is more cheerful and the sheers are still there for privacy. Her windows face the back of the property so she doesn’t have much foot traffic at all near her windows. And I’m sure she won’t miss the curtains.

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3 comments so far

  1. Evan on

    I’m touched, Emily.

  2. Sherri on

    Gosh, Em – don’t know where to start. I guess… that I’m happy your Mom is happy. She sounds sort of tranquil – not as agitated as in some of your posts. I’m sorry about kitty – it didn’t sound good for him in one of your previous posts. Very sad (I love cats :-). Mostly, I’m so happy you have Patrick (hi to him again for me :-), but I want you to take care of yourself too. I, too, have sleep issues – always have. Those with such issues are more prone to panic attacks as are people doing so much – like you! Have a good rest of the week…

  3. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Evan. Hi, Sherri. Tranquil is a good word for how Mom can be. I talked to a nurse today who said she continues to be in a good mood. And the vet called last night to give me a report on the cat’s blood work – he had a number of bad levels, too low or too high, and multiple organs were failing. So he was so sick. Poor guy. She also said cats are experts at covering up their illnesses. As for sleep – got two good nights, then one bad, with the Lunesta. Hope for some deep sleep tonight. Hope you get some sleep, too! I imagine parenting can interfere with sleep…!


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