Today is our 46th day visiting Ron’s mother in the Rehab/Nursing Home where she is receiving physical therapy and just trying to get her strength back from a lengthy hospital stay. It’s a painfully slow process.
She turns 90 this weekend and we are celebrating!
Her two grandchildren are flying in to honor their grandmother on this special occasion and we are busy making preparations. Our disappointment is that she won’t be making it home for this important day, so we are taking the party to her.
Every day has been a personal journey for the three of us, each in our own ways.
She…fighting acceptance and denial of age and situation.
Us…a roller coaster of emotions…as well as trying to keep a balance, mentally and physically.
We have been down this road before, and have learned that if we don’t maintain a sense of humor on a daily basis, we too will spiral into that hole we don’t want to get into.
Therefore, we laugh often…to keep from crying.
It’s at these times that we remind ourselves of the chorus in a Jimmy Buffet song:
“It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
When we made the transition from the hospital to Rehab, I let the staff know that I will do Mom’s laundry. But their special, informational sign: Family will do Laundry doesn’t appear on the closet door right away, as promised.
Hence, the case of the missing pants.
Within two days the light blue pants and the light green pants disappear.
“Well, did you mark them with her name?” they ask.
“No”, I reply. “I indicated that I would do her laundry and I have left a laundry bag in her closet for you to put her clothes in.”
“Well, you really need to mark them. They probably ended up in our laundry anyway. They’ll show up.”
No, they never showed up.
I immediately marked everything.
The next day, the dark blue pants are missing.
“Sorry, I’m sure they will show up since you marked them.”
Two weeks have gone by and we are missing three pairs of pants.
At this rate, Mom’s running out of pants and I’m laundering and returning clothes the very next day.
I decide to buy pants at Good Will (local thrift shop) wash them and take them to her the next day.
“Hi Mom. Look what I brought you. You need pants and I bought some for you.”
She won’t wear them because she does not recognize them as hers.
What she chooses to do is to be on the look out for whoever is wearing her pants and she will let them know “who really wears the pants.” I can just picture her in her wheel chair cruising the halls on the look out.
Sunday, Ron and I walk into her room and see an unmade bed and untidy room.
“Mom where are your shoes? Why aren’t you wearing them?”
“I don’t know. I guess someone took them.”
We notice a pair of shoes lying on the floor, but they are not hers. They are clearly marked with her room mate’s name. I realize now that I neglected to mark Mom’s shoes. Whoops!!
While Ron leaves the room to track down her shoes, Mom decides she wants to see if the shoes on the floor fit her, even though she knows they are not hers. She scoots the wheel chair close to one shoe, bends down and with graceful agility retrieves it. She’s adamant about getting it on her foot and getting agitated with me for not letting her try on these shoes. Ron looks for the room mate, who is in the hallway asleep in her wheelchair, and sure enough, she is wearing Mom’s shoes. He reports the situation to the nurse’s station.
When he comes back into the room, Mom announces, “Your wife wouldn’t allow me to try on the other shoes.” Her tone and relegating me to your wife clearly means I’m in trouble.
It’s time for a diversion and we three move out doors to a sitting area in the sun.
Mom is content for the time being and getting sleepy. She can’t keep her head up or her eyes open. I look down at her feet and chuckle. What a sight. No shoes, but she’s wearing stretched out socks which are being held up with tape. Ron’s idea. She doesn’t like tight socks and these are falling off her feet…but, believe me, they have her name on them in huge letters.
About an hour later, I find the CNA (Certified Nurse’s Assistant) who is carrying Mom’s shoes back to her room.
“I disinfected your Mom’s shoes,” he says proudly as he hands them to me.
The insides are soaking wet. I take them outside, put them on the roof of our car to dry in the sun and rejoin Ron and Mom.
We then talk about the upcoming birthday party which she won’t acknowledge. She says she isn’t having a birthday and won’t say how old she will be. She gets confused and says, “how much?” instead of “how old?”
Ron replies, “You’re going to be $1.98, Mom.”
We talk about the grandkids coming and her face lights up. We were going to let them surprise her, but she needs something positive to focus on…except we have to remind her each day…each day…each day.
The shoes are now dry and I mark them inside and outside with my trusty permanent marker that stays in my purse.
As we leave this “friendly zoo,” Ron and I are reminded of more Jimmy Buffet lyrics:
“I’ve had good days and bad days
And going half mad days
I try to let go but you’re still on my mind
I’ve lost all the old ways
I’m searching for new plays
Putting it all on the line.”
As we make the long drive back home, we laugh about the week’s events at the Nursing Home/Rehab center. The Las Vegas style singer who showed up in his turquoise flashy jacket to sing in front of a live audience. I watched and sang along with him as the residents one by one nodded off to sleep. And for those uninterested in musical entertainment, there is always BINGO and BLACK JACK across the hall.
We laugh about the fight Mom says she witnessed between two women and that she tried to break it up.
We laugh about the missing pants and the wet shoes.
Every day is a surprise and emotional…up one day…down the next, but the most important thing is Mom is surrounded by a loving, caring staff that provides the necessary medical treatment she needs. We couldn’t ask for anything more…even if we’re missing three pairs of pants.
We face with our loved one what many of you have already gone through. I sift through blogs regarding elder care, dementia and aging and always learn something new or make a connection. I read inspirational writings that lift me up when I am down.
And we sing Jimmy Buffet songs.
** Ron (ronmayhewphotography.wordpress.com) and I are obviously behind in our responding to comments, reading and liking new posts and generally keeping up with our blogging world. There are weeks when I don’t think I can produce anything viable, but for both of us, blogging is a creative outlet that remains part of the positive balance we try to maintain in our lives. It will take a while to catch up.
We thank you for your understanding as we focus on Mom…celebrate her birthday…get her well…possibly get her home…and be her daily coach.
Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!