A drive and some ice cream
I tried something new with Mom on Sunday. Instead of showing up for just a brief visit before lunch, I went to see her shortly after lunch. This was partly because I figured she might have gone to church again, as she did the week before, which leaves no time for visiting before lunch. But after driving her through the park recently and finding it both pleasant for me and apparently just fine for her, I decided to take her out for a drive and to get some ice cream. She virtually never turns down a chance to eat ice cream. She has seemed to show some interest in going on outings lately, and I admit I’m a little tired of lunch at Bob Evans. Not the food, exactly, but the nature of that kind of outing and the stress I think it might put on both Mom and me if there is little conversation. There we are, facing each other at a table, with nothing to say to each other. It has just gotten a little old, at least for me.
So I went to collect her from the lobby, where she was sitting with her friends. I think her friends are noticing that I’m visiting more often. “Oh, you’re taking her away again,” Alice said. Just for a little while, I said. For a drive. As we left, I wasn’t really even sure where to go. I decided on parts of the Ohio State campus, the football stadium in particular. Mom, of course, doesn’t care where we go. She sits with her dog in her lap or tucked near her purse by her legs and picks at her chin. By the Schottenstein Center, I said, “That’s where Ohio State teams play basketball.” “I used to do that,” she said. “I remember that.” Mom was a men’s basketball fan in the late 1950s, when she attended OSU. I said, “Jerry Lucas and John Havlicek. They were playing then, weren’t they?” And she said, “Well, I don’t know about that.” I said I must have it wrong. She did used to talk about the famous OSU athletes of her day. But she hasn’t had a clear memory of college for a good two years now, I’d say. And before she lost the concept completely, she thought I had been in school when she was in school. She never seemed to believe me when I said I wasn’t born yet when she was in college.
As I turned onto Lane Avenue, I remembered I would not be able to get to the stadium from that direction because of construction. So I pointed out St. John Arena, and told Mom that was where she would have watched basketball. She didn’t seem to remember that. We drove along High Street, and I drove through Olentangy Village, an apartment complex Mom had always liked. She had no memory of it, or the many summers she spent there lounging at the swimming pool. But we could see the river, and we admired the trees.
I parked there and we went to Denise’s ice cream on High Street. Mom had a hot fudge sundae and I had a scoop of sweet cream ice cream. My stomach had been bothering me just a little bit so I didn’t want to overdo it. But Mom’s sundae looked delish. She ate it with some enthusiasm, so I was glad to see her appetite is normal. Her dog sat next to her on the table. I told her I was going to take her picture. To prepare for the photo, she blotted her mouth with her napkin – something I rarely see her do – but rather than posing, she just continued to eat. And I snapped one shot.
She said a few things of note during our outing. When we were heading to the car, I said, “We’ll just drive around and see some sights.” And she said, “We don’t have fights.” I assume she was talking about her friends. That made me laugh.
She asked me several times if I had any news.
After I told her my stomach was a little iffy and then I later coughed, she said, “You should go home and rest.” Which I later did.
As we were driving around, she asked, “Are you happy with your life?” I said yes. “Are you?” I asked her. And she said yes, too.
When we drove by the Clintonville apartment she lived in from about 1991 to 1999 or so, I said, “You lived there for several years.” “I DID???” she said, incredulously. It was an interesting response, I thought.
After I had returned her to her lobby spot and we were saying goodbye, she said, “I hope your husband is kind to you.” She likes Patrick so I believe she thinks he is kind to me. My take on this was that she was remembering that I wasn’t feeling tiptop and she was looking after me. I’ll take any of that that I can get.
The best thing she said, though, was as we were walking from the car toward her facility. Recalling the outing we had just completed, she said, “That was nice.” That’s exactly how I’d hoped she feel about it. Even if she doesn’t remember it now, she was content in that moment.