Bring back my Bonnie to me

I visited Mom Monday, a holiday from work. I didn’t manage to give myself much extra time before lunch to have a visit. But I did at least manage to get there.

When I walked into the program area, she was just getting up from the couch, where she had been sitting with Mr. R. I don’t know what was prompting her to leave his side because she hadn’t yet seen me (and I’m not sure these days that my presence is something that would prompt her to leave his side). She started walking toward me, but it was purely coincidental. I just stood there until she got close and looked right at her. She looked at me. She started walking more slowly. And I started walking toward her and said, “Hi, Mom.” We hugged. But not with the same enthusiasm as in the past. I was pretty sure Mom wasn’t really remembering me, at all.

We went back toward the couch and she sat next to Mr. R. I headed for the chair next to her side of the couch, but there appeared to be a smear of poo in the chair, so I pulled up another chair from a nearby table and sat close to Mom. She made her usual small talk, which was mostly nonsense statements – at least in my context, they were nonsense. She was making sense to herself, I am sure. I felt a little like she regarded me as company. Like we should be doing something since I was there. But I told her it was fine to just hang out together and have a visit.

Eventually, she mentioned that she had lots of hairs on her chin. This was a signal to me that she did realize who I was – for the most part. I got out my tweezers and leaned over her and pulled out as many whiskers as I could. She has hearty hair growth on her chin, so I could do this at every visit and still not get it all. I stopped when she consistently winced with every pull.

At one point in her talking, Mom said, “Emily will be here.” I never want to punish her for not being clear about who I am. But I said, “I am Emily. And you are Bonnie.” And she started singing: “My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie…la la la la.” She didn’t know any more. I finished out this part of the song, surprised that my eyes stung a little with tears when I sang, “Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me.”

Lunch arrived a little late. When the cart was pushed into the room, I suggested that Mom and Mr. R find a table. Aides started getting in on the act, too, and Mom’s tray was one of the first out of the cart. I helped her find a seat and went off to pull up a chair for Mr. R. Mom immediately began eating her grilled cheese sandwich. An aide brought Mr. R’s tray over and placed it on the table. Mom put down her sandwich and reached for the sandwich on Mr. R’s tray. This was not an enormous problem, but for some reason I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I pried that sandwich out of her hand and put it back on his tray, and picked up Mom’s sandwich and handed it to her. Luckily, she didn’t resist at all.

A woman sitting across from Mom kept asking me where her tray was. I didn’t recognize her, so I assumed she had recently moved in. I kept telling her it would come soon. But she was mad at me because I wouldn’t bring her tray. And then out of the blue a longtime male resident came up behind Mom and started singing to her: “My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea…” He is an interesting fellow – almost a savant of sorts who remembers my name from the one introduction we had on Mom’s first day there. He calls everyone by name all the time. In the midst of his singing and the angry table-mate and Mom’s absorption in her sandwich, I gave her a quick kiss and slipped away.


5 comments so far

  1. plettahar on

    wow, i felt a pull of sadness on the “Bring back my Bonnie to me” part… What a world, with the pampered beau (until she chooses to take his sandwich) and the angry table mate and the smear of poo on the chair. it makes me very grateful for the life i have.

  2. momsbrain on

    Aw, thanks, plettahar. My life isn’t so bad. This was just an odd visit.

  3. Jennifer Jayhawk on

    Wow! Where to begin. The ” Bring back my Bonnie to me” is so tough. They are just not coming back. It is still so hard to wrap my brain around that fact.

    I never visualized my life taking this turn (I’m sure you feel the same way).

    I cannot thank you enough for your support my “cyber friend”.

  4. Jeff on

    Emily – it’s an odd coincidence that we are feelings these odd things today. I was up at the Williamstown Theater Festival today, which is up at Williams College, which Howell Price attended. I went there last year too, and remembered being sad at being at Howell’s alma mater, but was particularly moved today, and a little guilt-ridden at not being in contact with him once I went to Oberlin, and especially near his end. I felt and feel the need to reach out to all Mom’s friends who knew him, as well as you and Laura and Dad, and piece together some of his history. I’m also going to try to reach Tom Buffer. it just made me think about loss, etc…. I had been planning for several months to come back to my Upper Arlington H.S. reunion, and might have even marched in that parade. but gave that up recently. I know North on the 4th also happens, so maybe I can better include it in my schedule next year. Love you.

  5. momsbrain on

    Jennifer: I knew in the beginning it was all loss from that point on – weird how the sadness about that surfaces at different points along the way.

    Jeff: We can never predict when these losses will make us sad, that’s for sure. I haven’t thought about Howell in a long time. And I worry about how many memories from that era are slipping away, too. I think I blocked out a bunch of memories because I didn’t think of that as a happy time. Though Howell certainly offered some bright spots… love you, too.

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