I took a break from yard work to give Mom a surprise visit this afternoon. She has been in a really dark place lately, as she’s been in a lot of pain. I’m sure it’s really hard to be ninety-two and dealing with the frustration of diminishing mobility and hurting all of the time. I feel so helpless when she gets in this space, so I did what I knew would raise her spirits- visited with a chocolate milkshake in hand (disclaimer: The milkshake is the most important part of the equation- I am not emotionally scarred from the realization that I play second fiddle to milkshakes. Well, maybe just a little.)
When I went into Mom’s apartment, it was very dark, blinds closed. I opened the blinds to flood the room with light and found Mom in the bathroom, struggling to get dressed for the Princeton Towers ice cream social. This appeared to be Heavy D’s ice cream bonanza day with the addition of my surprise milkshake. She was having a hard time dressing, and so I helped her. She is becoming so feeble, with things I could do in a split second taking several arduous minutes for her.
On the plus side, she began to go into her silly mode that I love so much. As I pulled on her undershirt (she burned her bras long ago), she lamented about wrinkles on her “boobalas” (“Lord, I look in the mirror and think, what in the world happened here!”) and then told me about her latest denture adventure…
“I woke up the other day and my teeth were gone, Neese. You know where I found them? Holding onto my shirt- right there (points to her chest). Just hanging out. I told them, “What are you doing there? You’re just popping up in a different place every time! Yeah, I’m losing it, Neese. I’m talking to my teeth now.”
This, of course, followed by laughter…a good sign.
Once we got her all dressed, she went to her lift chair and had me bring her hairspray- Rave, of course- so that she could primp for the party. She also had me bring her the milkshake so that she could take a few sips. Then I was instructed to put it in the freezer so that she could enjoy it later. The woman knows how to stretch out enjoying her chocolate shakes.
Her friend that was supposed to wheel her to the party was running late, so I took her down to the social room. We saw several of my favorite seniors along the way, including The Rev. Rev had polio as a child and is confined to his motorized chair. He is not only a resident, but also works at Princeton Towers, motoring around to check on every resident each day. He loves my mom, saying she is one of his heroes. That always makes me happy. Everyone we passed asked about Mom and she smiled and spoke to everyone….some of the best medicine is getting her out of her apartment so that she can interact with people.
She chose her treat- vanilla ice cream in a small cup with whipped cream and chocolate sauce, and then had me take her back to her apartment. He leg was hurting a lot, and she just didn’t feel like staying to socialize. Nonetheless, she was much cheerier by the time I returned her to her place. I left her happily enjoying her treat in her lift chair, and she talked to me until the door closed as I left (saying goodbye to Mom takes at least ten minutes….seriously).
It may not last long, but at least I got her out of her doldrums (or as she calls it, “mullygugs”) for a little while. It’s a reminder for me to be empathetic and patient. I can’t understand what she is going through, and I need to let her feel what she is feeling and just listen. So many things are out of her control….and I think how I would feel if I was in the same situation. My tendency is to always be in a rush with a long to-do list. Today I put the to-do list aside, I slowed down, I listened.
I never regret it.