New Year’s Eve Dinner

Mom’s AL community kept things on the down-low for New Years this year. Very few family members attended. It looked like this:

We arrived at mom’s apartment to find her absent. We put her periodicals on the coffee table, scooped Elvis’ box, and placed his food dish in the sink for a much needed soak. On our way out, I finally had to take this picture:

Four lotions and hand soaps on mom’s bathroom counter.

We found mom in the dining room with the delightful Stella. Stella has a 1000-watt smile, and asks with intense interest all about your work and kids, repeatedly. It’s a very different experience from mom when mom was pumping us for information that she couldn’t retain. Stella is cheerful. Mom, at that time, was angry as hell.

After pointing out to Stella, five or six times, what the three of us were thinking about ordering for dinner, the waiter took our order, and we all enjoyed a scampi and steak dinner.

After dinner there were four hot rounds of bingo, with some nice prizes. This is where the differences in Stella and mom’s illnesses we’re remarkable. Again, mom’s capacity surrounding numbers was on stage. She had zero problem working her board. Stella, on the other hand, had to ask me which letter had been called each time, and then which number. It didn’t help that the ‘caller’ was going too fast for someone with Stella’s cognitive deficit, on top of her hearing loss. She needed to find the letter across the top of the board, and then run her finger down the column of numbers. If a column of numbers were all ‘called,’ and covered on her board, this did not clue her into that fact that she didn’t have to search for the number. Mom could just glance at her board with each call and flip the cover down on the number.

Stella is fit and very ambulatory. Mom isn’t. I could diagram, sort of, the path, and place each of these ladies is on it, but they’d be all over the path. Just because Stella can’t remember what she wants to order 5-times in a row, and can’t keep up with bingo doesn’t mean she’s strolled down the walkway further than my mother. The more I work in this environment, and hang out with mom and her friends, the more I understand that the manual I want for this illness not only doesn’t, but can’t exist.

After bingo an amazing pianist entertained us for an hour. One of the residents has an amazing voice and joined the musician for most of the hour. It was wonderful. The music spanned many genre while keeping this crowd (ages: early 70’s – late 90’s) very happy. Lots of smiles, singing, and a little bit if dancing.

We walked mom up to her apartment at the conclusion of the festivities. (8PM countdown!) We helped her feed and water Elvis. I found her meds sitting on her kitchen counter, again. I asked her, “Mom, these are your evening meds, yes?” While handing them to her. She said they were, and took them right down.

We confirmed our Friday doc appointment with the (haha) sports medicine clinic for mom’s knee, said our good-nights, and headed out to find a care staff member.

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