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Spokane, WA
This profile photo is my mom and me at the beach--she is 26 and I am about 18 months. LOVE the joy!! I am a mom of three and a teacher; being a teacher means I have to go back and cut the f-bombs. There were a few. Because Alzheimer's sucks badly. This blog, for nine years now--skipping a few while I was too cheap to buy my domain name-- helps me un-peel and process the endless layers of sad woven with weird and--impossibly--comedy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The crying nurse aid's prayer list

When I first walked in, my mom saw me from across the all-purpose room and smiled. When I sat to talk to her I thought she was on a new medication. She was talking all nervousy and giggling a lot. She knows when either I or Chris is here that it's time to be funny, at some level. There was no reason to laugh and I found it maniacal until she stopped laughing and stabilized and I realized that she was just happy. Tiny bit of joy.
She was wearing God knows whose sky blue colored sweater vest with a white sailboat and pink highlights. A red rubberband held back her bangs in a ponytail and she had no glasses on, so the view of "The Waltons" on cable across the room was blurry but she was never much of a fan.
Where are her clothes? They aren't in her closet, or on her body. Laundry? No one else is wearing them.
I brought out a small photo album from when she and my dad were first married; photos of their first kitten, Frank. I was trying to make her laugh by calling him "Fancy photogenic feline Frank." (They had a professional portrait of him from 1966).
She did some rounds of walking when I began talking with a few of the nurses' aides.
There's one woman who is always there when I am, and each time Chris and I have been. He always remarks that she looks like she's about to lose it at any moment. Turns out nothing makes her more sad than watching my mom and I. She has no idea how my mom was before except that it doesn't matter to her. She and my mom play games together each night she's on shift. Anyway so after 50 minutes of the same old thing- me walking around to find her glasses, taking a look in her tiny vertical closet- (seriously, where are her clothes?) walking down the halls and mouth breathing all the while to avoid the pissy stench which she comments on periodically. I had to go. I was feeling sad anyway, before I went. During one of the laps we made, she said "I just would like to take a bath." So I ran over to a nurse aid to see if that could be arranged. That simple wish made me so sad. Like a child asking for one marble. No, a small feeble child with British accent..Tiny Tim.
Turns out she WAS on the bath list for tonight-
yeah. I still want her out of there. I have never seen another visitor when I've been there and the staff seems to think I'm there often. Once a month, maybe twice? yet compared to the rest of families who come-NEVER-it's often.
So I was leaning into her and saying goodbye and I just started sobbing. I don't do his. Um. Ever. And her play partner I described earlier, also her personal confidant (Although she confides babbling nonsense) ran over and said, "Oh, honey, don't cry," at which point she began crying and hugging us both. I couldn't stop for just a few minutes. My mom wanted, as always, to be a part of it but didn't really understand what the sadness was about. I said a few times "I miss you." the nurse aid was telling was telling me " I love you almost as much as I love her." and told me they sometimes dance together.
Now listen here.
I have been in a few fabulous senior facilities that cost as much as Parochial college tuition and as lovely as their decor may be, I don't know that you could find that kind of love and loyalty. It's something. As much as she loved both of us, she had to ask me my name to write me down on her prayer list. Then she told me to drive carefully. The alarm went off as I left because my mom's ankle bracelet is super sensitive.

Thoughtful young me

Thoughtful young me

Seventies chicks

Seventies chicks
Me and my mom Lynn, 1973