Picture show

Awhile back, I got a call that Mom had an unexplained black eye. She didn’t seem to be bothered by it, the nurse said, but it was bad enough that the staff planned to write an incident report. We all assumed Mom probably bumped her head against something. No one had seen any indication that Mom had been hit. She would be sure to yell if that happened. I went to see her the day after the call and she did have a real shiner, with bruising all around the right side of her head. She is prone to bruising, but a black eye is always a sad thing to see. However, in this photo, it’s clear she was feeling fine during my brief visit. I think it’s so funny that she hoists her legs over arm chairs.

Mom must be telling me a story that she thinks is funny.

Mom must be telling me a story that she thinks is funny.

My camera says I took that picture on Nov. 1. When Patrick and I visited her for the Alz center’s Thanksgiving dinner for families on Nov. 15, she still had very slight hints of a bruise on her head. Poor thing, that must have been quite a bump. The dinner this year went pretty well. I think Mom was quite distracted by the big crowd and the noise. She sat between Patrick and me. After we had all eaten for awhile, Patrick started to feed Mom some of his sweet potatoes to see if she liked them. They were not a food that she enjoyed before she got sick. She did accept bites of the yams and other things. I quietly fretted that feeding Mom might make her dependent on that before she actually needs it. As if he could read my mind, Patrick said some people might worry about feeding her like that when it’s not required, but he did it because this dinner was a special occasion. And she has no memory, so I don’t think she will remember being fed.

I took a series of photos of Patrick and Mom sitting together after she had had some pumpkin pie – a favorite of hers when she developed a big sweet tooth in her later years.

Patrick held Mom's hand and chatted with her.

Patrick held Mom’s hand and chatted with her.

I love the way Mom is looking at him here - like she was responding to his kindness. I'm sure he was probably teasing her.

I love the way Mom is looking at him here – like she was responding to his kindness. I’m sure he was probably teasing her.

This is a silly self-portrait attempt, but it's the best shot of Mom's smile. She was getting tired by this time.

This is a silly self-portrait attempt, but it’s the best shot of Mom’s smile. She was getting tired by this time.

I visited her this past Sunday during lunch, and I watched her eat just to see how that is going. She gets two bibs now – one around her neck and one in her lap – because she is a very messy eater. But she cleaned her plate. She was having chopped steak, broccoli and diced potatoes. A very Bonnie meal. She scooped everything up with her hands, occasionally licking her fingers. She discovered her cake about halfway through and ate that before finishing the rest of her food. I cleaned her hands, which she didn’t like very much.

I had arrived shortly before lunch, and Mom was sitting drowsily on a couch with Mr. R standing nearby. She reclined and closed her eyes, and I rubbed her back. I knew she should probably eat, but I was afraid to wake her up and encourage her to go to a table because I thought she’d protest. I don’t really care so much if she gets mad at me. (She later said to me, ‘I don’t like you.’ And I said, ‘I don’t believe you.’ She soon seemed to forget that I was annoying her.) I didn’t want to disrupt her good mood. I thought I would just sneak away, but I mentioned to her aide that she was taking a rest, and her aide said, “Oh, no. She has to eat.” She marched right over to Mom and nudged her awake. “Your daughter is here. Let’s get some lunch.” And she pulled Mom’s legs around so her feet hit the floor, sat her up, stood her up and sent her on her way to a table, with me taking the lead from there. I felt like such a loser. But despite her lack of memory, I do think Mom is conditioned to respond favorably to such encouragement from people who spend 8 hours with her per day. Still, I was ashamed I created some extra work for her aide. Mom has been in this same state for at least two years. I need to just suck it up and help take care of her when I can and trust that she’ll quickly get over any anger it generates.

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4 comments so far

  1. Barry Lough on

    This is petty in the scheme of what you’re writing about here but I thought it might be a bit of trivial interest: the leg over the arm chair. I do it all the time! It just made me wonder if there’s somehow something genetic about this practice. Laura even wrote a poem 1 time about us and mentioned my leg dangling (as always) over the arm chair. It’s my favorite way to sit. BTW I have developed a profound appreciation for Patrick and his support in all this; I really admire him for that and am so happy you have that support from him. He’s awesome and you deserve it!

  2. momsbrain on

    Hi, Barry! I think that’s a funny things to remember, not petty at all. I don’t mind a hoist now and then over the arm of a chair, too, but I don’t think I’m known for it in the way you are. Mom definitely does it a lot. I’d like to see that poem Laura wrote. Thanks for such kind words about Patrick. He has been very supportive and I feel lucky every day that he and I are together.

  3. patwhite67 on

    Emily, thank you for sharing the recent pictures of your mom. She has held up amazingly well through this illness. That your husband came to support you and your mom for the special meal, I’m sure was a strength for you.

  4. momsbrain on

    Hi, Pat. She really has stayed healthy and alert for a prolonged period of time. I was just thinking tonight, when I was sitting with her, that she was better this visit than she was the last. She just plugs along, most of the time in a good mood. I hope you’re doing well. Thanks for commenting.


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