Asleep

The holidays are over, and it’s time to establish a new routine for visits to Mom. I haven’t taken advantage of extra time on weekends for the past several weeks to visit her because I devoted that time to shopping, or knitting a gift, or writing Christmas cards, whatever. I was able to keep myself on a pretty comfortable holiday schedule that way, which helped me enjoy the whole season more than I did last year.

My brother visited Mom on Tuesday. I thought that today I ought to check in on her, just to see how she was doing. I arrived shortly before lunch. I chatted with the receptionist for a bit, but felt an urge to get back to the program area since the lunch hour was closing in. I walked back and looked around. She wasn’t at any of the usual tables, with her usual lady friends. I spotted her slumped over in an easy chair in the lounge area closest to her room. I stood and looked at her from a distance for a moment to make sure she was breathing. I have found her asleep before, but usually stretched out on a couch. I had never seen her like this.

I put my coat and purse on another easy chair. I found an empty chair at a table and pulled it over so it was right next to Mom and I sat down. I pulled myself a little closer and just looked at her. She had on her pink Crocs with no socks – on such a cold day, I was surprised by this. But it is not cold inside. She had on blue pants and a blue turtleneck with little flower decorations on it. She was wearing her usual collection of bracelets, including some that had gone missing for awhile. She was no longer wearing the rosary she had been wearing on the day we gave her gifts. That had surprised both Jeff and me, but then again, nothing is a surprise. But Mom is not Catholic, so the rosary was a little more unusual than most unusual things.

I put my hand on Mom’s leg, gently. She didn’t stir. I took it away and just sat. I touched her hair, and stroked her head a little bit. Nothing. It occurred to me that if she woke up from sleeping this deeply, she’d probably be very confused and disoriented by my presence. And with lunch on its way, I didn’t want her to feel rushed, or discombobulated. So I got up to leave. I felt sad about it – a missed opportunity to have a visit. I thought to myself that I would like to take her to lunch sometime in the next week or so, when it’s not quite as cold outside. But mostly I would like not to find her asleep like this again anytime soon. There’s no reason to make a big deal of it. She may never fall asleep in that chair again. But slumped over like that, she looked more like an advanced Alzheimer’s patient than she typically does. And I didn’t particularly like that.

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