Aunt Nancy

My Aunt Nancy called over the weekend to say she wanted to come visit Mom during the week for a short visit. I had told her it’s easiest to take her out somewhere, like for ice cream, so it has a definitive start and finish. Sometimes, when people visited her at her facility, the departure would be awkward, because Mom would think she should leave when the visitors did. Nancy proposed Tuesday, and I planned to take a couple of hours of vacation time to be with her during the visit. The last time she had seen Mom, on Thanksgiving, Mom didn’t know who she was.

Bonnie on the left, Nancy on the right. At Bob Evans.

Bonnie on the left, Nancy on the right. At Bob Evans.

Nancy and my Uncle Gary arrived around 2 on Tuesday. We all entered the lobby together. Mom was in the dining room playing bingo. We stood outside and watched for a bit until the activities director asked us if we needed something. I went in to retrieve Mom. She was happy to get up and leave the game, but she stopped at the door to note that since she was leaving early, she wouldn’t be getting a candy bar as part of her participation. I told her we’d get ice cream instead. I introduced her to Nancy and Gary outside the dining room. Mom was immediately a little bit flirty with Gary, as she is with many men, sort of playful and aw-shucks. And she said she thought she might remember him. And she was similar about Nancy – she put her finger to her lip to think, and said she did think she remembered seeing them before. But the fact that Nancy was her sister was completely lost on Mom.

We went to Bob Evans – it seemed like the easiest choice because it has ice cream plus anything else a person might want to eat. In the car, Mom opened a box of chocolates that Nancy had brought for her. Nancy wanted to bring a gift, and I said one can never go wrong with candy for Mom. She had Gary go to a special store, Marie’s, in West Liberty, to get these particularly good chocolates. I was touched by that, that she wanted Mom to have the very best.

At the restaurant, I ordered a chocolate sundae for Mom. Nancy, Gary and I all had bowls of soup. Nancy also got a root beer float. We ate and we chatted. Nancy and I talked about exercise. I told her Mom goes to exercise class sometimes. She asked if ice cream would spoil Mom’s appetite, and I told her no, not to worry. I noticed we talked about Mom and didn’t give Mom many chances to talk about herself. I probably should have given her those chances, but I am so accustomed to Mom’s inability to answer questions or speak in meaningful sentences that I tend to speak for her with others. And yet I also think she had put her game face on, so to speak, and was trying hard with these new people to be a little bit more able, a little bit more talkative, a little bit more present with the group. I have noticed that in the past, too, but I thought she might not be able to do it anymore.

I think Mom looks cute here - big smile with her ice cream.

I think Mom looks cute here - big smile with her ice cream.

Mom finished her ice cream before we finished our soup. And she said, “I’ll just eat with the rest of you.” And I was pretty sure she thought it was time to order something so she could eat along with us. Instead of doing that, I gave her the rest of my soup – cheddar-baked potato soup with bacon and green onions in it. I liked that soup. Anyone who has eaten with me knows I’m not very willing to share my food. Patrick knows that best of all. So I was struck by how complete the role reversal has become, so much so that I would sacrifice my soup so Mom would not be confused or otherwise put up any kind of fuss. She liked the soup, too, and she finished it.

We went back to the facility and stopped in Mom’s apartment. Gary waited in the hall. Nancy looked at some pictures – some were really old, of Nancy and Mom and their cousin Shirley. Shirley died in her 50s of Type 1 diabetes. Mom looked at that picture and said of Shirley, “She died young.” She also said Shirley had some disorder in that actual picture, something that caused her stomach to be distended. This had never been true. But it was weird, that Mom would halfway recall the sad story of Shirley’s longtime illness and death. I mentioned to Nancy that we’d be going through pictures and I would collect some that I thought she would want to have. Mom was listening to us talk. “Are you moving?” she asked. “No,” I said, “I’ll just be doing some organizing.” I was struck by that, too, that Mom would relate going through pictures as a moving activity. Like I said, she was just slightly more with it with others around. I still haven’t told her she is moving soon.

Mom walked us to our cars. I talked about her as we walked down the sidewalk, about how she likes to walk me to my car. She gave me a look, and it occurred to me that she didn’t like it that I was talking about her as if she weren’t there. And I told her that that was what I was doing, and that I should stop it. She hugged us all goodbye. Gary seems particularly affectionate to Mom – he doesn’t say much, but I think it makes him sad to see her like this. Nancy is stoic. She seems to be interested in observing Mom’s unusual behavior, such as her extreme interest in babies and little kids – she stopped on the way out of Bob Evans to coo at a baby. Nancy said Mom was never like that before she got sick.

I took pictures of Nancy and Mom together. I wanted to post one here. But I can’t seem to find my camera. Bob Evans says there is no camera in lost and found. It’s not in my purse, where I keep it. I couldn’t find it on the floor of the car. There is a chance it’s in or on my desk at work for some reason. I find this upsetting. It’s a cheap camera. I can get another one at Costco. I had downloaded all the pictures out of it except these most recent shots of Mom and Nancy. But I am just highly irritated. How could I lose a CAMERA? How absent-minded can I be? I was irritable today in general, and now I’m really pissed. I hope I can sleep tonight.

ETA: I returned to Bob Evans on Friday morning to check again, and the hostess that day had been our server on Tuesday. She remembered me when I walked in, and said, “Have you picked up your camera yet?” What a nice surprise that was.

On the agenda tomorrow: meeting with the facility administrator and selecting Mom’s nursing home room.

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2 comments so far

  1. Sherri on

    I get like this too with lost objects. Like… I have SO much going on – handle a lot – HOW could I lose ….. whatever???? Also, pre-child chaos, I was organized – did not lose cameras, objects of sentimental value, etc. So.. it is maddening to me that I now do lose such things – forget important “stuff” like school tuition deadlines or something in lieu of making sure the garbage is out, the kids dressed, etc. You have a lot going on …. bound to happen. I really hope you find it …. sometimes it IS the little things that keep us chronic insomniacs up. There is a technique for getting petty “stuff” off your mind…. if I remember, I’ll share :-).

  2. momsbrain on

    I am happy to report the camera was at Bob Evans after all. I had a hunch if I checked with the day staff, I’d get a different result. Photo coming soon!


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