Archive for May 28th, 2012|Daily archive page

Memorial Day

For several years, Mom and I would drive to Springfield sometime during Memorial Day weekend to visit the cemetery in which her parents are buried. We’d meet my aunt, uncle and one or more cousins at the cemetery, and it seems that more often than not, we would circle the place a number of times, always forgetting precisely where Grandma and Grandpa are buried. After I got married, Mom usually made the trip by herself. I really don’t remember the last time we took that drive together for that purpose. But I still identify Memorial Day with that daytrip with Mom even after all this time. I talked a little bit about it with Mom when I visited her today.

I hadn’t seen her in almost two weeks. Shortly after the Bald Head Island trip, I took another brief vacation, this time to Florida to go to Disney World with my dad, stepmother, brother, sister-in-law, and niece and nephew (plus another sister mid-visit). I hadn’t done a good job of getting a visit in with Mom before I left, mostly because work was very busy as I tried to catch up and prepare to be away again.

I remember that occasionally during the Disney trip (just three days), when I was feeling rather overstimulated by the crowd, noise and heat, I would think about how peaceful and calm it can be to visit Mom. And yet when I was preparing to visit her today, I felt both drawn to her and also a little full of dread. That’s not entirely unusual. If she’s in a good mood and alert, she can cheer me up, and I’m always hopeful for that outcome. And when I’m away from her for a long time, I miss the connection I’m trying to maintain with her. As for the dread – I think that’s just related to not knowing what to expect from the visit.

Today, Mom was sitting at a table in the program area. She had on a Christmas fleece sweater and fleece pants. I admit I was surprised she had on such warm clothes on one of the hottest days of the year. I had brought some clean summer clothes to put in her closet, and I removed other fleece items that I didn’t think were necessary to keep around over the warm months.

I sat next to Mom and we chatted. For the most part, her language was gibberish, but she’d occasionally say words normally. “Are you tired?” she said to me. “I’m just boring,” I responded. I wasn’t talking too much, balancing feelings of wanting to be a cheerful presence for her with a sense that saying anything to her is a useless endeavor. “The girls win,” she said. “Girls rule the world,” I responded, putting my hands in the air. She liked that. “Are you Bonnie?” she asked. “YOU are Bonnie. I am Emily,” I said. As we started to take a little walk, she stopped and said, “You look like me,” and I said, “I know! I do! People tell me that all the time. It’s because I’m your daughter.” She also said the name Shirley – that was the name of a cousin she was very close to, who died young, in her 50s I think, of complications of Type 1 diabetes. I attended the funeral with Mom even though I wasn’t sure I had ever met Shirley – I did know her sister, Sandy; Mom was close to her as well.

I was with Mom for about an hour, which was longer than usual. A time or two during the visit, I got the sense that Mom felt it was time for me to go. She wasn’t upset or anything; she would just make a motion or say, “Well…”. We got up to take a walk and I stopped to talk briefly with a man who visits his wife every day. While we were talking, Mom wandered away. I found her in the lobby, moving around couch and chair cushions with another resident. I coaxed them both back to the program area for lunch, and said goodbye to Mom once she was settled in with her spaghetti, green beans and garlic bread.

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