“Are you feeling OK?” Mom asks me. I’ve been in her room for awhile; we’ve looked at the new dog books I gave her, Coco and I filled the bird feeders, and we’ve chatted a bit. Then we are quiet, and I am usually chattier, I guess. “Why do you ask me that?” I ask her. Mom stares down with her mouth open, an unhappy expression on her face, imitating my expression. “You’re like this.” She’s got it right–I’m feeling a bit down today. Her ability to read me surprises me and feels kind of good. I have the urge to bury my face in her shoulder and tell her all my worries, but I say instead, “You’re right. I don’t feel my most red-hot today, but I’m all right.” I don’t want to get her upset when there’s not really that much trouble. I make an effort for the rest of the time I’m there to stay cheerful, and later say goodbye, reminding her that I will pick her and Dad up at 8:00 the next day for waffles to celebrate Mom’s 88th birthday. For both of them, this is the favorite reason to go out, and I don’t mind it either!
Yesterday, the members of the family in Michigan gathered here to celebrate my parents’ 62nd anniversary, and the dual birthdays of my mother and niece. My parents’ first grandchild was born on my mother’s birthday; we’ve celebrated their birthdays and the anniversary (a mere 2 days earlier–Jan. 29 and 31) for years. All guests came to my house for BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, and then we 17 all went to Bickford and had cakes–one lemon for Dad, one chocolate for Mom, and both delicious. A highlight of the day were the three great-grandchildren who came and entertained us all with their beauty and charm. Another amazing thing: my nephew convinced my father to go to the room where a pool table is available for residents, and PLAY POOL. I wandered down a little later and watched my father walk without his walker around the table; he had his fierce competitive face on, and really entered into the game. Today he told me that no matter who won the match, he won. After all, it was he who taught my nephew to play. Dad was in a great mood today, and enjoyed the anniversary and birthday greetings that I brought from my son. In all, a very successful weekend, that I hope reminded Mom and Dad that they are not forgotten.
I’ve heard many times before about the elderly perking up with visitors the way they don’t with the people who are with them every day, and saw this acted out to an extent yesterday. Dad beamed as each member of the family greeted him, and remained standing a good bit of the time. He seemed to hear better, too, in contradiction to what I told the family: that he is very deaf, you’ll have to shout, face him when speaking, enunciate, etc. I’d also suggested that when speaking with Mom, understand that she can’t talk well, and not to ask a lot of questions, look at books together, or tell her about events in your life. Here’s what her granddaughter said, “Gma was very sweet and loving, and is not so different from how I remember her, which is a comfort.” Well, good. I still see my mother with us, and it’s nice to know someone else does as well.