Gifts for Mom

My brother Jeff and I visited Mom at the Alz center today to give her her Christmas presents. I was sort of fretful about how to plan Christmas with Mom, and assumed I had to do so before the actual Christmas day. And then Jeff suggested in a comment on a previous post that we could do Christmas while he was visiting, after Christmas – the most appropriate idea. So we had Christmas Monday with her today.

It was Jeff’s first chance to see Mom’s new nursing home. We met in the parking lot so I could show him how to get in – there are security steps to take on the way into the building and on the way out. We walked back to the program area and found Mom sitting at a table with two women who I believe are friends of hers – they tend to sit together, anyhow. I told them we were going to whisk Mom away from that table and take her to one of the lounge areas to give her some presents. We stacked the gifts beside Mom’s chair and handed her things to open one at a time. She opened a pillow from my sister Laura, which has an image of Starry Night by Van Gogh on one side. Also from Laura, a Bob Evans gift card. From Jeff, fuzzy blue pajamas and matching socks. From me, a lipstick and two pairs of pants. I don’t think she knew why she was getting gifts, but she seemed to enjoy it.

Mom starts working on opening a package from Jeff.

Mom with her new pajamas, black pants and pink pants.

Jeff and I had planned to take Mom to lunch at Bob Evans. But we arrived a little later than we planned because our icy windshields had to be scraped. And I had failed to call ahead to tell the kitchen Mom wouldn’t be there for lunch. So we agreed to skip the lunch. We took Mom’s items to her room. Jeff folded her pajamas and put them in the top of her closet, and I hung up her new pants. I put her lipstick and socks in a drawer and the pillow on her bed. I’m just now remembering I forgot to put her name on her new clothes, but I did remember to write it on the pillow. Her closet is in some disarray, still, with clothes on the floor or shoved onto the shelf. And the buffet functioning as a dresser continues to fall apart a little bit, as does the new little chest of drawers Patrick and I got to replace it. This is frustrating. I have left the frame of the buffet there to provide a surface to hold pictures and stuffed animals. But I obviously need to take the second drawer out of there and ask Patrick to see if he can repair the other drawers.

I feel a little embarrassed about this at the moment, because an old college friend of Mom’s visited her yesterday. Perhaps he thought her room was a little disappointing, if he saw it – Mom doesn’t know where it is but he might have located it based on her photo outside the door. He was in town for an annual party hosted by another old friend of Mom’s. Patrick, Mom and I were invited to the party, but I had declined – it was early evening on the same day we were arriving home from Michigan, where we spent a few days celebrating Christmas with Patrick’s family. I knew Jeff would be here, as well as my youngest sister Elizabeth, and it just seemed like too much to manage to get to the party. I told both friends in their Christmas cards this year that I wasn’t sure it was a terrific idea to take Mom to the party anyhow – that she can get confused in unfamiliar settings and may or may not relate well to the old friends who now, inevitably, are strangers. Her friend from Cleveland ended up taking her to the party. I asked Mom about it today and she had no recollection of it. There were a few items in her room that suggested she had come home from the party with a couple of gifts: a Carl Jung action figure and a book full of pictures of Matisse art. Great gifts for the old Bonnie, but, sadly, the humor of the Jung action figure and the beauty of Matisse are completely lost on her now. As for what the friend might have thought of Mom’s room: I’m just going to have to let that go, I guess.

Jeff and I got Mom situated for lunch and, as usual, we left when her food arrived and she had started eating. When I saw her plate, I wished we were taking her out because the lunch foods were not among her favorites: ham loaf and turnip greens. I was able to fill out a list of foods she doesn’t like, but I don’t recall the turnip greens as an option. I’m pretty sure I would have said she didn’t like them. She took a bite and said she didn’t like them. I cut up her ham but left before I saw whether she ate it. I showed Jeff around the rest of the place, and we greeted a family in the lobby that I know from the support group. We left the lobby to look at the other side of the building and when we returned, there was Mom, sitting on a lobby couch. She had escaped from lunch because she didn’t like the foods. I bought her a bag of potato chips and we sat there and shared them in the lobby. And then I took Mom back to the program area and asked her if she might like to take a nap. She pointed to a couch and I set her up there, using her purse (with dog/cat inside) as a pillow. She seemed perfectly satisfied. I kissed her goodbye and told her I’d be back tomorrow.

Jeff and Mom, with her new pillow and a family picture from Laura.

Mom seemed to like the lipstick. Here, she applies it for the third or fourth time.

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4 comments so far

  1. Sherri on

    It sounds like she enjoyed herself. Happy New Year to you, your mom, Patrick…. all your family :-).

  2. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Sherri – happy new year to you and yours, as well!

  3. Albert Davis on

    God Bless her . My Mom also has the last stages of alz . I am 55 and the first Born of 4 kids. I am very sad but thank you for the ideas for Christmas 2012

  4. momsbrain on

    Dear Albert, I’m sorry about your mom and your sadness. This disease has certainly changed how I feel about this time of year, and taken some of the cheer away. Best wishes to you and your family. Thanks for commenting.


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