300 Minutes with Mom
I arrived at mom’s community a few minutes ahead of time hoping to catch the concierge to RSVP for Saturday’s Easter brunch, and make reservations for dinner on mom’s birthday. She had been pulled away from her desk so I headed upstairs to mom’s.
Mom greeted me with a smile, and was delighted with her mail (all periodicals). She said she was out of reading material, though I noticed later there was a stack of periodicals on the bench in her bedroom looking very unread. I said hello to Elvis, curled up on mom’s bed, mom gathered her coat and purse, and we were off. While waiting for the elevator, mom looked at me and asked, “Did you get your hair cut?” After saying I had, she replied, “I liked it better long.” Knowing now that change causes her anxiety, I was able to cheerfully say, “Well, it grows so fast, it’ll be long again soon!”
On our way out, while mom signed out, I was able to chat with the concierge. Mom, who doesn’t initially pay attention to others conversations anymore, but then suddenly might want to know what you’re talking about, asked, “What, what are you doing?” When she understood there was a party of eight expected for her birthday, she was obviously very pleased.
I, in searching for things to talk about, made the error of asking if I’d told her my husband was car shopping. Of course I hadn’t asked her, but it makes for a good seque into conversation. She asked what he was currently driving, and when I told her a 2001 Subaru, she exclaimed, “Oh, that’s a very good car!” It took telling her the car was 17 years old with 230,000 miles, and in need of at least a $4,000 trip through the shop to get it in as good as condition as it could ever be, that mom agreed, “Oh yes, it’s time. Better to put that money into a newer car.” This was an interesting insight how 2001 doesn’t mean a lot to mom, while 17 years still does. Of course, this lead to her saying she needed to start looking at cars too. 😏
We arrived for mom’s appointment 10 minutes early, and to mom’s credit, she only asked when the appointment started, a few times, and didn’t get huffy that it was taking too long to get seen. She saw the same delightful doctor as last time, who was, again, just as amazing with mom. At one point mom looked a tad uncomfortable, so I said, “Mom, I just did this last week!” The doc asked how my appointment went, and I told her that my eyes haven’t changed in the last 18 months. The doc then asked, “You’re in your 40’s, yes?” Did I tell you what a wonderful practitioner she is? After making sweet sounds of disbelief that I’ll be 55 next month, she explained that in our 40’s, when most people’s vision changes, that change happens over two to three years, and then our eyes don’t usually shift very much after that. She found that mom probably sees better than she or I do with corrected vision, even though mom’s left eye isn’t as clear as her right. The brain will stop using an eye that’s not working perfectly, and getting this functionality back, especially when one is older, and has dementia, even after the laser procedure is highly unlikely. Bottom line, mom still sees really well. To add to the whole car theme the doc told mom she’d pass the eye test for her license! She then asked, “Are you still driving?” Mom said she was but needed a car. As the doc walked us out, I quietly said, “She doesn’t drive anymore.” The doc said, “Oh for sure… I hoped not!” Mom exercised her vision insurance, and ordered a pair of prescription reading glasses, very close in Rx to her drug store readers, and of WAY better quality, for the sum total of $25.00.
Next was sushi! We found parking easily (maybe an Easter miracle?), and settled in at the restaurant. Mom couldn’t really navigate the menu, so I made suggestions, she agreed, and we ordered. As expected, she had trouble with the chopsticks, once to the point of losing half a piece of prized octopus on the floor. Overall though, she did better than the last time with ‘her sticks.’ I’m thinking next time we go out to lunch, I’ll target something a little easier to eat. Mom mentioned needing to buy a car again while we ate lunch. “Oh, hmmm.” Was my reply.
After picking up a print I had laminated for my husband, we returned to the community. As we drove up, mom looped into how Dr. O had cleared her to return home, and asked if there were any additional appointments. Picking up her new glasses, and a trip to the dentist… I lied when I said I’d mentioned the dentist appointment to her. On our way up the elevator to her apartment, mom asked if she’d told me about Dr. G’s strange visit, and as she unlocked the door, she asked if I wanted a cat.
I made my goodbyes swiftly, yet took a moment to tell Elvis I loved him. As I turned to leave mom’s bedroom, I saw her calendar. Today’s appointment information is indeed illegible, and rest of this week is lined out with the word, “Home” on it. Mom asked, “What appointments do I have now?” I reiterated the dentist. She asked, “And what else?” I reminded her ‘Picking up your glasses, but we don’t know when they’ll be in. They’ll email me.’ So, despite our spies telling us she’s ceased talking about going home, she’s calendared doing so.