J. and I picked Mom up for church this morning. I found her wrapped up in the soft, fuzzy blanket I got for her at Christmas. I had forgotten to let the aides know that they should dress her for church, so she was in some soft velveteen sweatpants; Mom still is concerned about how she looks, so I suggested we change pants. I helped her into some black pants that looked OK with the top she had on, got her jacket, and we headed out the door.
Mom enjoys going to church, and there were some songs during the service that she knew and could sing along with (see previous post “Good day.”). She did quite well, in fact–I was pleased with the outing–and I hurried us out the door to get her back to Bickford so I could get back for Sunday School class. As we went, I suddenly saw Mom through the eyes of someone who hadn’t known her over the years, and it made my heart ache. She looked as if she had never been anything but a hunched old woman who doesn’t have good sense, and missing a front tooth to boot(which will be repaired tomorrow!). This is so far from the truth about her, that seeing her so is bitter indeed. It makes me want to cover her with photos of her life: standing with a tennis racket as a college senior, full of energy; swinging her golf club and sending the ball straight and true; at the kitchen counter preparing dinner for 20, slim as she always was–at least until now. A busy, highly competent, caring woman who made a difference for most people who knew her, not least to her children and grandchildren. How unfair for the world to see only her great age and deterioration! Perhaps I should order a t-shirt with the words “As I am now, so shalt thou be,”–a quote from a long-ago gravestone. I beg any who read this: when you inevitably meet a bent and elderly someone, smile, be patient, remember he or she has a history about which we can know nothing. Honor that individual in some small way, and hope someone will return the favor to us in the future, should any of us be fortunate enough to live long.