Archive for May 10th, 2010|Daily archive page

Another Mother’s Day

About a month ago, I received a mailing from the Alz center about Mother’s Day festivities: a two-hour party on Saturday and an ice cream social on Sunday. In my mind, I planned to attend the Saturday party, and perhaps the Sunday event. The rest of this week is also full of events to observe National Nursing Home Week. I put a few items on my calendar that I’d like to see: Celtic dancing on Wednesday and an Elvis impersonator on Friday.

The week before Mother’s Day, I thought each day that I could try to squeeze in a quick visit with Mom. I hadn’t been to the center since Friday, April 23, followed by some busy days at work and a weekend off from visiting. But I had another busy week, and didn’t get to visit. On Saturday morning of Mother’s Day weekend, Patrick and I talked about going to the party together. I wanted him to come for something like this, especially since I might feel like a third wheel if Mr. R was around.

We decided to take naps before we went to the party, which was to run from 2-4 p.m. I was restless. Couldn’t sleep. By about 1:30, I realized my heart was pounding. My mind was racing. I was having an anxiety attack, albeit a mild one, about seeing Mom for the first time in two weeks. I didn’t know what to expect. I felt guilty for letting so much time pass. I was afraid staff might think I’m an absent daughter. All the while, I thought hateful thoughts about Mother’s Day, which, well, just doesn’t have much meaning for me anymore and mostly makes me sad. I rushed through a shower, woke up Patrick and told him I was going to the party without him.

When I arrived, Mom was in the program area as usual, sitting with Mr. R on their usual couch. As I approached, she smiled and said hello and held out her arms for a hug. All was fine. She recognized me. She was with her beau. She was content. I sat for a moment and then suggested we go to the party, which was in a dining room off of the lobby. Mr. R came with us. I fixed a plate of cheese cubes and cream puffs for Mom and got a fruit cup for myself. Mr. R loaded his plate with six cream puffs and two chocolate eclairs. I got a cup of punch – pink with ice cream floating in it – to share with Mom. We sat at a table and ate. I tried to get Mom to sit in the middle, but she plopped down in the chair on the left, so I was between her and Mr. R. I imagine he didn’t like that. Mom got chocolate all over her lips and fingers. I tried to clean her up with a napkin. We sat for awhile, but it was sort of loud. So I suggested we return to the program area.

We found a different couch to sit on. Near the couch Mom had been sitting on earlier, a new resident was sitting in a wheelchair saying over and over, to no one in particular, but pretty loudly: “They won’t let me out of here. They won’t let me out of here.” She didn’t seem particularly distressed. Just stuck. And noisy. On this couch, I noticed Mom’s whiskery chin, so I got out the tweezers and plucked until she complained that it hurt. We took another walk to the party room to see the results of a raffle drawing, but it hadn’t happened yet. We went back to our couch. A staff member brought a vase of flowers over that had just been delivered for Mom – from my sister, Laura. I showed Mom the card. The staff member took the flowers out of the glass vase they came in and put them in a plastic pitcher. No glass is allowed anywhere. I took the vase home. I took a picture of Mom with her flowers and then suggested they be put on the nursing station counter for all to enjoy.

Mom and her beautiful Mother's Day flowers, sent by my sister.

Mom said she had to pee so I took her to her room. With one hand beginning to pull down her pants, she used the other to start pulling back the covers on her bed until I opened the bathroom door and guided her to the toilet. When she was done, I pointed to the memory poster on the wall – of Mom, family and friends, from the research project she was in gauging whether pictures are more meaningful when accompanied by captions.

Young Bonnie, looking beautiful. Mom no longer recognizes herself in this picture.

I asked her if she ever looks at it. She said yes, and she pointed to the photo of her from her college graduation (I think?) and said, “That’s my daughter. She is so beautiful.” I told her that was actually a picture of her, and that she was, indeed, beautiful. She didn’t seem to agree that it could possibly be her. She didn’t seem interested in the other photos at that time. And I was sort of discouraged, so I suggested it was time for me to go and that she should join Mr. R in the program area.

I pointed him out to her, and suggested she go sit with him, and at this point, I could swear that she had forgotten who he was. We walked toward him, and I wanted her to sit with him so I could leave. But she was antsy, and thought she wanted to go with me somewhere. I told her I was going grocery shopping and that would be no fun for her. Meanwhile, Mr. R was getting angry, and said Mom wanted to sit with some other man. I don’t know what led him to think this – she had greeted a male staff member at one point, and I have thought once before that he mistook me for a man. I found the deterioration of the situation very stressful. We all started walking toward the lobby, and Mom tried to take Mr. R’s arm but he pulled away. We got to the lobby, and I drifted away from them, and they started to talk quietly to each other, and they headed together back toward the program area, where I assumed they would forget any confusion or anger and resume sitting together on the couch holding hands. I escaped without saying goodbye.

And I didn’t go back again on Sunday.

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