On Covert Treats, Renegade Teeth, Roller Coasters, and Heading to the Farm
I am sitting in the recliner right next to Mom’s bed as she dozes in and out of consciousness. She said this has been the longest day ever- it truly feels that way…and it’s only 3:30pm.
This morning I found Mom’s room full of giggling nurses. It seems she is developing an extension to her fan club here at St. Vincent’s, with all of the staff coming in to say how cute and sweet she is. I told them she was indeed, but that the morphine sure ups the funny factor. Mom looks rugged today, somehow even more fragile, older. Her hands have been poked, pierced and prodded, covered in tubes and pieces of tape. She enjoyed her oxygen treatment at least, telling me that it was fun.
So much is still up in the air. I met with the case worker again and we went over options…pretty frustrating and unsettling at first, but with some possibilities and better news coming in the afternoon. I have received some wonderfully helpful advice from my friends in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm (thank you especially, Victoria Cummings and Russell Davis). While I still feel like a deer in the headlights with all of the decisions left to be made for my mother, I feel wrapped in the love and support of so many…it makes all the difference for both Mom and me.
Mom’s phone has rung off the hook today with loving calls from family and friends. The nursing staff has been unfailingly kind and compassionate, and they seem to appreciate my mother’s and my on-going comedy routine…our defense mechanism against the fear that hides behind the unknown. Laughter heals so many things- it always has. Mom says she’s made it this far by being silly, so I guess it’s in my genes.
I left at noon for a quick lunch with Dan and a dash home to check on the animals. I returned to the hospital sneaking in a treat that I knew would get Mom’s appetite going- half of a turkey sandwich and a cheese biscuit from one of our favorite Birmingham barbecue places, Jim N’ Nick’s. As the elevator door opened on the floor before mine, I saw a beautiful statue of Jesus. I am not a religious person, but deeply spiritual, and something about the statue touched me. I jumped off and took a photo, ignoring the strange looks of my fellow elevator compatriots.
Mom’s eyes lit up when she saw her clandestine treat….until she reminded me that her dentures were in her purse…in my trunk…in a far away parking deck. St. Vincent’s is a huge complex, and I thought I may have to leave bread crumbs to find my way to the car. I made it back with teeth and denture adhesive, so the day was saved.
This day has been an emotional roller coaster, where I have alternately felt like crying, screaming, and laughing. So much to think about, so many details and major decisions to make much more quickly than I am prepared to do. As I sat next to Mom while she slept, I did what always works when I need my spirits lifted…I went to the Farm…Bedlam Farm and the Open Group for Bedlam Farm, that is. Right away I came across a new post by the wonderful Lisa Dingle (Justponderin.com) that had me smiling and giggling right away. I was inspired by beautiful photography, poems, stories, touched by the heartfelt kindness and compassion for my mother and me. So much beauty there, so many souls encouraged and set free.
Our mentor in the Open Group, best-selling author Jon Katz, has been sharing his recovery journal following his double bypass surgery. While what Mom is going through is nowhere as severe as what Jon experienced, his positive and honest writing has helped me see things differently with my mother’s care and her continuing journey of recovery. How wonderful to find a place where there is such honesty, beauty, and compassion.
….many hours later…
I finally left the hospital after helping Mom eat her dinner (mainly protecting her from the onslaught of black-eyed peas and juice that she insisted on sharing with her hospital gown. I wound my way down the now-empty walkway to the parking garage and received the gift of light that I had to stop and capture. I got in the Bug, thankful for the rain that had come to feed my thirsty plants and yard. One less chore to do. It was then I remembered the dog food….Dan has been swamped at the theater and I’ve been totally focused on Mom. My girls didn’t have any of their special food left, so I made the drive to the pet store. Bone weary.
I have such respect for caretakers as I experience what it means to focus totally on another person, leaving your needs for later- sometimes much later. I missed Dan’s yoga class this evening, but it was for a good cause- precious time spent with Mom, looking out for her needs, soothing her fears. I kept a smile on for her, but now I am home in my peaceful Chez Gainey. Now the tears can flow as I look out on the beautiful view that gave me both light and dark today. Isn’t that life, though? There is always darkness, but the light is never far behind.