Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Bonnie’s birthday

Mom turned 76 today. I really find it hard to believe another year has passed. I guess that’s because her status hasn’t changed significantly in the past year. I took her 75th birthday kind of hard – something about the milestone got to me. This year her birthday did not have that effect.

I gave her the same gift as last year – a Hershey bar. I think she liked it. I apparently can’t embed videos here anymore without paying something, but the link below points to a YouTube video of Mom enjoying her chocolate.

Mom enjoys a chocolate bar

She was funny. I found her lying on a couch in a little alcove along the hallway to the program area. Her eyes were closed and her knees were elevated. Time was short, so I woke her up. I sat down by her feet and started rubbing her legs. She opened her eyes and said, “What have you been doing?” “Working,” I replied. I gave her a little time to wake up and then started offering her bites of chocolate. She did not move her hands, which were wedged under her hips. So I fed her.

After she finished, she was a little bit chatty. She was sweet and occasionally made funny remarks. She said, “Goddamn sonofabitch” a few times, with a hint of disgust. I don’t know what triggered that. When I laughed at her for saying that, she’d laugh. She never changed her position, though. A nurse walked by and said she’s a good lounger. “Always has been,” I said. And that’s the truth. I took another short video, hoping to give an indication of how she talks. Of course, she was much more talkative when the camera was turned off.

A brief chat with Bonnie

I couldn’t stay long but I enjoyed the time I spent with Mom today. I was wedged into the seat and had myself draped over her raised knees. That physical closeness made me think, I am the only family she’s got here, and somehow she knows I am on her side. She was completely unafraid to find me leaning on her when she woke up. It was as if we just resumed the conversation where we had left off on Sunday. She is always telling me a story, and I try to respond in as meaningful a way as I can. When it was time to go, I kissed her forehead and nose. Her nose was cold. As I walked down the hall, I heard her singing to herself and laughing.

Back to her old self

I ran into Mom’s current aide Sunday just as I was walking into the program area. I told her I had some clinical strength deodorant to try on Mom, and if it works well, I’ll buy a much bigger supply. “Oh, thank god you remembered it,” she said. I was sort of surprised by that remark. Does Mom really smell that bad? During my visits, I tend to be more offended by her breath than by her body odor. But they must have an issue with it these days, and they should know, given all the hygiene tasks they have to perform with the residents. Heck, with this disease, who knows? Maybe damage to the brain extends to a malfunction of the sweat glands. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Mom was at her lunch table, but she was finished eating. Her tray was gone, but she was rubbing some spilled juice across the tabletop with her fingers. I asked her if she’d like to take a walk and she said, “OK.” That may or may not have been an authentic response to my question. I turned her chair toward me so I could help her up. “I’m eating, I’m eating!” she said. So I turned her back toward the table. She reached toward another resident’s lunch tray. That would have ended in disaster, so I turned her chair toward me again, took her hands and pulled her into a standing position. I took her hand and we began to walk.

We walked toward the door to the courtyard and looked out the window at the sunny day. Mom was chattering on, mostly nonsense, but at this point she said something like, “I wouldn’t want to go there.” And this made me wonder – could she be trying to articulate that she doesn’t like being out in the world anymore? Because I really don’t know when it was she last went outside. And I get no indication that that bothers her. It seems sad, I know. She might enjoy a walk around the courtyard or sitting in the sun for a little while. But I don’t know if it’s worth trying to expose her to those experiences if the process of getting there would cause her stress.

We turned and went down another hallway and turned around when we encountered a closed door. Mom was cheerful – no frowns this time. She talked quite a bit and I reacted in the affirmative to whatever she said. I say she is back to her old self, but I did notice something new – her belly seemed big. She has gained and lost weight numerous times at the nursing home. So she might just be in a gaining phase. Perhaps she walks less. I actually patted her belly while we were walking, just to see how it felt. Sort of firm. She laughed. When we finally reached a stopping point and she sat down in a chair, she draped her arm over her stomach and rested it there. I could tell she was drowsy. I rubbed her legs and arms a little bit, and she didn’t mind. Her head would drop and she would close her eyes, and then she’d pop them open again. After several tries, I figured I was just a distraction and I wanted her to get her afternoon rest. I kissed her cheek and left her to her nap.