Community service

With the three-day weekend, I have had in mind since Friday, my last visit, that I would visit Mom today, Monday. I considered taking Mom out to lunch, but didn’t get my act together early enough to do that. I also wanted Patrick to come with me, to see if we could either fix Mom’s little chest of drawers or replace them. It was not a huge project, but I wanted him to come. It looked this morning like he might not make it, and I was trying to go with the flow, but he could tell I was disappointed, I think. He decided he’d come with me and then have me drop him off at a park so he could get a good run in, running home from the park. I was glad he did that. I can’t articulate why I want him to come with me sometimes, but I do. I think it takes the loneliness edge off of the visits. Even though I am surrounded by people when I visit Mom, sometimes I still feel like the act of visiting itself is a lonely endeavor.

Mom was sitting at a table with a few unfamiliar faces – young people, most wearing red shirts. The activities director told me Ohio State students had come to visit residents as their community service project for Martin Luther King Day. I wanted to hug all of those students. Community service wasn’t as big a deal when I was a college student as it is now, but I am fairly aware of what kinds of things students do now as part of my job in the university communications area. But even after having promoted these student service activities at OSU, I don’t know if I would have realized that visiting Alzheimer’s patients might make the list. I went up to a group of about four kids and said, “As an OSU employee and a daughter, I want to thank you for making this your service project.” One young man said to me, “It’s been great.” I also thanked the student sitting with Mom, and apologized for taking Mom away from her. She had plenty of others to talk to. She was very sweet. I wanted Mom to come into her room with Patrick and me while we rearranged her stuff.

Mom sat on her bed while I emptied the drawers in her room. I bought two clear plastic bins to replace them. I’m through with drawers, between the buffet falling apart and this small chest of drawers also proving defective after just a short time. The buffet frame is still in Mom’s room, serving as a surface for photos and stuffed animals. Underneath, where there used to be two large buffet drawers, there is a big gap. And now the bins are under there. It doesn’t look as bad as it sounds. And it doesn’t look as bad as it did when the buffet drawers were off track and falling apart. This is an old piece of furniture that I guess still has sentimental value for all of us kids, though I am losing affection for it these days…

I also took a box out of the bottom of Mom’s closet, which was full of clothes. And I brought those clothes home to wash because they have never been picked up off of the floor. It is quite possible Mom was responsible for the mess. Probable, really. But it has bothered me that the clothes were never hung up or washed. So I am finally fixing this thing that has felt like a problem to me for awhile. I also noticed, with chagrin, that Mom has very few pairs of pants hanging in her closet, and only one pair was among the pile of clothes on the floor. I forgot to put her name on the two pairs I got her for Christmas, and they were gone. I was getting fretful during this part of the visit. Patrick was encouraging me not to worry. And Mom said, “I’ve told you before that I don’t have enough clothes.” And I said, with a frown, “I know.” And she said, “I’m just kidding.” Patrick really liked that, that she joked with me about that topic at that time. I wasn’t as tickled by it, but it was interesting that she was aware enough to make the joke. Most of the time, she doesn’t even know that she has a closet full of clothes or a room of her own in the building.

Mom was in very good spirits. When I arrived, she came up to hug me and said she was so glad to see me. And then she said, “Give me another hug,” and we hugged for a second time. She was also chipper on Friday, when I visited shortly before lunch. She was sitting in a large circle in the program area, where an activity was just finishing up. The activities director and a volunteer both told me that Mom had been dancing a lot earlier in the morning. I sat next to her in the circle, and music was playing more loudly than usual. Mom clapped her hands, and so did I. She has become fascinated with clapping – I think she likes the tingle that it makes in her hands, and how certain claps are louder than others. I should consider this a life lesson she is teaching me: there is pleasure to be found in something as simple as clapping my hands.

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2 comments so far

  1. Gemma on

    I tried to comment earlier, but must have pushed a wrong button. Here goes: I’m so glad you found this home for Bonnie. Not “a home” as in nursing home but home as in “a comfortable place with caring people.”

  2. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Gemma. I am so glad, too.


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