Comfort

Today has been all about comfort. I skipped my morning exercise class and enjoyed hanging out longer than usual on a Saturday morning. I decided to take Mom to lunch, meaning I didn’t have to leave the house until about 11 a.m. I maintained a leisurely pace, read the paper, had two cups of coffee instead of one.

When I arrived at the Alz center, Mom was lying on a couch in the lobby. When I got around the couch to look at her, her eyes were open. She sat up. “It’s a miracle,” she said. I hugged her. She seemed like she might not be completely with it, like perhaps she had momentarily opened her eyes but could use more sleep. I sat next to her and said I wanted to take her to lunch if it sounded OK with her. “I want to,” she said. I took her to her room to put a long-sleeved shirt on her and some socks and to get her coat. While I signed her out at the nursing station, an aide buttoned up her shirt and coat so she would be warm. On our way down the hall toward the lobby, another aide stopped to give Mom a hug. This staff, I tell you, they express so much affection for the residents. I said to Mom, “There seems to be a lot of hugging go on around here.” And she said, “Just the normal amount.” And that was probably true. The normal amount is a lot.

We went to Bob Evans. Mom didn’t seem interested in eggs, so I suggested meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans. I told her I was going to have chicken pot pie and a salad – comfort food with a small side of greens. That seemed interesting to her. So I ordered chicken and noodles and french fries for her. She said she didn’t like salad. And a Coke. While we waited for lunch to arrive, Mom occasionally got a little confused about the pictures on one remaining menu and her placemat, thinking they might be the food she was supposed to eat. I kept telling her we had to wait until the food was ready. My salad arrived first. I didn’t want to eat before she could, so I offered her a cherry tomato. She bit into it and grimaced. I’ve said this before – Mom used to love tomatoes. Just loved them. I offered her croutons instead and she seemed to like them. “They’re loud,” she said.

When the food arrived, her chicken and noodles were in a bowl on a plate, the french fries were on another plate, and I put a biscuit on a third plate in front of her. I think this arrangement was confusing for her. She would pick up a spoon, and then a fork, and not be sure what to do. She’d pick up a french fry and put it on the chicken-and-noodles plate. Eventually, she got the hang of it. I put ice cubes in her chicken and noodles because it was hot. She enjoyed the french fries. She said, “I hope they don’t mind I’m using my hands.” I told her that’s how everyone eats french fries. She used a fork to take a bite out of her biscuit. “I forget how to eat,” she said. I told her that wasn’t true, that she was doing fine. She picked up her chicken and noodles bowl several times to drink the broth. I considered that successful problem-solving on her part. She drank almost two Cokes and burped several times. Dog/cat was with us, and on our way out, a woman passing by started teasing her about the puppy – in a very playful and gentle way. “You can’t have that puppy,” she said. “It’s too cute. What’s the puppy’s name?” “It’s adorable,” Mom replied. I always appreciate strangers who regard dog/cat as a perfectly normal thing to see in the hands of an elderly woman.

We then went to K-Mart because I was obsessed with getting Mom some more pants. We found two pairs of cotton pants with pockets, one gray pair and one bright magenta pair. I picked up some fuzzy socks for her and a brush and comb set. Mom complained that her back hurt – something she had said was bothering her earlier, while we waited for our table at the restaurant. I massaged her back a little bit while we were waiting at Bob Evans. I used to give her shoulder rubs all the time when we lived alone, during my teen years, and I thought about that while I gently pressed on her lower back. I asked her if it felt OK. “Yeah, I like this,” she said. So at K-Mart, since it was hurting her again, I decided we ought to just get back to the Alz center.

When we returned, we went to her room and Mom plopped onto her bed immediately and kicked off her pink Crocs. I wrote her name on her new items and removed all the tags and hung up her new pants. We had been together for two hours. She was exhausted, I think. I was a little tired, too, but feeling good about our visit. “I’m too old,” she said. “I am so old.” This was because I was remarking that she must be tired. She didn’t seem upset about this – just stating a fact. I kissed her goodbye. “I’m ready to sleep,” she said.

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5 comments so far

  1. thill85 on

    I love reading these! You are such a wonderful, caring daughter!

  2. momsbrain on

    Terri, Thank you so much. I see you have started a blog – I must check it out!

  3. plettahar on

    “They’re loud.” what a great observation! she’s seeing and remarking upon the world in such concrete yet fresh ways, it’s really interesting. “The usual amount” — that’s awesome. great post, Emily!!

  4. foodhoe on

    of course I am drawn to this post where you talk about food and eating… it’s funny because I notice my mom has taken to eating with her fingers more and more and that she is often confused with how to proceed with familiar dishes. I love that your mom carries dog/cat around with her everywhere!

  5. momsbrain on

    Hi, foodhoe! My mom has been inconsistent with regard to confusion about food. It is one of the many weird manifestations of the disease. I hope your family is doing OK!


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