Mom, my Valentine

The Alz center hosted a Valentine’s Day lunch today for families to attend. This wasn’t nearly as popular as the Thanksgiving and Christmas events, which I guess is no surprise. At Thanksgiving, the staff filled up plates for residents and families based on our requests and served them to us. At Christmas, we went through a buffet line for snacks, cookies and punch. Today, I got a tray off of a cart. Just like Mom does for every meal.

For once, I was early. When I arrived, Mom was sitting in a circle in the program area, listening to music. She was wearing pink pants, a pink, red and white striped T-shirt and her pink Crocs. She looked very Valentine-y. I sat next to her and we started clapping our hands to the music. She eventually reached over to hug me, saying she was so glad to see me. And then she reported that she had to pee.

We made our usual trip to her room so she could use the bathroom. She didn’t need any help from me. I checked out her room, and everything looked like it was in good order. We went back to the program area and were encouraged by a staff member to find our seats at a table for lunch. For awhile, I was cozied up to Mom as the fifth person at a square table. But when another resident’s son and daughter-in-law arrived, they all moved to a different table and I took a regular spot. We were sitting with two residents I know fairly well by now. Staff put out red tablecloths and small bouquets of artificial flowers. Mom admired the flowers. I took a picture of her.

Mom, with combed hair and lipstick. And flowers. She is scheduled to get a haircut soon.

Our trays arrived. We were having chicken parmesan with spaghetti, broccoli on the side, a salad and a piece of cake. And water and milk, the regular drinks for all the residents. The more advanced patients, or those with no teeth, eat their food pureed. One woman at our table had pureed food. Today, she emptied a packet of sugar onto her pureed spaghetti. She also didn’t eat much, but instead seemed inspired to do a lot of talking during lunch. Most of what she said didn’t seem to make much sense. I detected a little ornery streak in her. She was sort of like a kid during a meal, looking for attention rather than eating. The three of us at the table didn’t pay all that much attention to her, but I would occasionally try to respond to something she said. While we ate, a staff member brought Valentine cards around to each resident. Another staff member brought a pink carnation to the table – for me.

When we were done with lunch, Mom seemed a little antsy. She said, “We might as well go now.” I proposed that we take a walk. In the hallway, with lots of windows, she got cold, so we went back to her room and I found a red fleece jacket for her to wear. We walked down the hall and a staff member walked by and said “Hi, Bonnie.” Mom replied, “How ya doing, kid?” That struck me as very funny. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mom address someone that way. While we were walking down the hall, Mom reached out to me for a hug. She is so affectionate lately. When we got to the lobby, a man sitting in a chair, someone visiting his mother, said, “Hey, Bonnie,” and reached out and grabbed her hands. They did a few little dance moves together. Mom greeted the rest of the family, and I introduced myself. Mom put her arm around me and said, “This is my best person.” We sat on the couch for a little while. I looked at my watch, and Mom said, “I know you’ve probably got to get going somewhere.” I was surprised at her awareness. She was actually in really good shape today. She recently went through some speech therapy, and I wonder if it has helped her. Or if the lowered drug doses are clearing her mind or something. She didn’t do a whole lot of talking, but she did a better job at conversing than she has in awhile.

“Do you come here often?” she asked me at one point. I said I would like to come more often, and that I hope to make more trips to see her once the weather is a little better. “I like it when you’re here,” she said. I had an appointment at 1 p.m. to meet with the student researcher about the project assessing Mom’s comprehension of pictures of our family. So I walked Mom back to the program area, where I encouraged her to stay and wait for ice cream while I left to return to work. This was when she showed some confusion, standing up and sitting down a number of times, not wanting me to leave but absolutely willing to wait for ice cream. I finally got her planted in her chair and walked away sort of quickly without looking back. I imagine she soon forgot I had been there and turned her attention to her ice cream. Even if she forgets, I know she’ll be glad to see me again the next time.

8 comments so far

  1. jeff on

    How did the appointment with the student researcher go? Is she recognizing things? I’m sure that would be fascinating to observe. Love you.

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jeff – I just dropped off the poster with her and she is meeting Mom later. I’m not supposed to be there when they meet – it might encourage Mom to look to me for answers. She will record the conversation, but I probably won’t be able to hear it. But I’m sure the student will give me an idea of how it goes. Love you!

  3. Sherri on

    Very nice…

  4. sandy on

    That sounds like a good visit, do you have to pay extra to eat meals there, or a membership fee? I need to get my mom some lipstick too, she used to always wear it but stopped some time ago.

  5. Emily on

    Hi, Sandy. For the past holidays, or at least the Thanksgiving meal, I had to pay $5, either in advance or via the monthly bill. I asked about the charge for the Valentine’s Day lunch and the activities director told me it was free for families. So that was nice. My mom always wore lipstick, too, so it’s fun to see that she’s still interested in it.

  6. Jennifer on

    I just found your blog. My Mom turned 90 in January, and still lives by herself. This has been a brutal year and she fights my brother’s and I every step of the way with trying to bring in help, taking her car keys away etc.

    I do not live in the same state as my Mother but I have spent the past four out of twelve months with her. It has taken a tole of me.

    I have taken my Mom to umpteen facilities, like where your Mom is, to visit her friends. We have tried so hard to get her to go to a retirement home. She will not go.

    I just returned a few weeks ago and decided to start a blog. I was then curious about other bloggers of aging parents. I have decided for the time being to keep the blog “light”. It does not reflect what we have been through this past year but it does reflect on the awesome things.

  7. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jennifer-
    I’m glad you found this blog. Thanks for your comment. I took a quick look at your blog – your mother is still very independent, I see! I like your decision to focus on the awesome things. I find, in the face of my mom’s illness, that there are still many awesome moments, and I’m much better at appreciating them than I used to be.

  8. Jennifer on

    Yes, Independent is not the best thing for a 90 year old. My Mom was born on a Homestead in Wyoming. She is a very much “pick yourself up by the bootstraps” kind of person.

    After my Mom’s last fall (in November) she was put on an Alzheimer’s medication while she was in the hospital. Don’t even get me started about “how they carefully manipulated her brain back into place with the cat-scan”. She believes this new med is her “brain stabilizer medication after the intricate proceeder that was done to her brain”. I could go on and on.

    Yup! Focusing on the positive:)

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