Monday, January 10, 2011

The Reality of it All

It's been a long day and I'm feeling unusually tired, so I head to bed. My husband Bob continues to watch a football game and comes to bed several hours later. I am awakened around 3:00 am by our phone ringing. Thinking that it's not long after my going to bed, I assume that Bob is still up and will get it. I suddenly sit up in bed and look at the alarm clock, seeing that it's mid morning. Afraid that the phone call will be more than I can handle, I punch my husband and ask him to get the ringing phone.

"No, you're just dreaming" I can hear him telling the person on the other end. Now, I am familiar with this conversation, as I have had it many times with my mother. "Wait just a minute and I'll let you talk to Jean" he says. I quickly leap out of bed and go to the phone. "Mother, what are you doing?" I say. "Jean, I have been out running up and down the road, banging on doors, hooping and hollering and nobody would let me in, my nose is running and my feet are freezing, I just prayed and asked God to come and help me and all of a sudden, I found myself walking through my front door and He has given me this little phone to call you on" she rants. "Mother, you've just been dreaming" I assure her. "No, I've not, I'm putting the chair back under the door knob right now." Because I know mother's routine for bed each night. I am becoming more and more concerned that she has actually been outside. I order her to hang the phone up and go back to bed and she promises that she will. I try to tell myself that mother has actually been dreaming as she has hundreds of times before, but for some reason I am eerily worried at the possibility that she has really been outside.

I wake up early and head to mother's house a little earlier than usual. There are several things that I've decided that I'm going to investigate so that I can tell if she really had been out that night. All signs lead me to the conclusion that she was only dreaming. The week prior to this event, I had called mother on a certain evening and she had told me that she had just arrived at this Children's Home and had to lay the phone down for a minute to go talk to the nurse on duty. I kept waiting for her to return as I could hear her talking to someone, knowing very well that she was alone. As I began screaming over the phone for her to come pick the phone back up, she rushed back and told me to be quiet and not wake the children. Another night, my sister Sue, who lives out of town, had called to check on mother. She called me while I was at a granddaughter's basketball game, informing me that our mother was a Ski Lodge Director tonight, and refusing to go to bed until the snow skiers came in off of the mountain.

My day at work was going pretty slow with sleepy yawns and bouts of drowsiness from being awakened at 3:00 am and not being able to go back to sleep, when the phone rings. "Polk Association" I answer. "Jean, I can't find my pocketbook!" mother says. This phone call has occurred several times over the year as well. I quickly instruct her to several random hiding places I have found her pocketbook prior to this loss. She takes her portable phone with her and with each stop she makes, I hear the words, "no its' not here and I'm going to be ruined!" Knowing that mother only has a few bills in her pocketbook and with nothing else of great importance in my eyes, I am not concerned that she has lost much, but only "where" she had lost it, since I knew for a fact that she had not been anywhere since her hair appointment several days prior and had remembered her bringing it back in the house when we returned.

Several mornings earlier, Mother had met me at the door with pocketbook on her arm at the garage door, asking me if I had come to take her home. My big concern today, is that she had taken it with her when she went on her "supposed" night out banging on doors. I grab my purse and informed my boss of the calamity that was occurring and that I will probably return within an hour and if not, would see him the next day.

I enter mother's house and quickly search every known hiding place I can think of. No pocketbook in sight. I began to wonder if I should search the outside, just to be certain she hadn't taken it out the night before. After a complete look over the yard and edge of the woods, I come back in. I am bewildered at just where the pocketbook could be. Pleading for God to help me, I take one more look in mother's bedroom when I spy a black strap, sitting under the oversized garbage bag in a small trashbasket just under her vanity. I lunge at the strap and pull it out! "I found it!" my words rang out. "Praise the Lord" mother calls. I had never been so relieved to find anything as I was this old black pocketbook.

The week's events have taken a hard toll on mother and the family. My siblings and I have finally came to the realization that no matter how much our mother wishes to remain independent, a change must occur. There will be no more nights alone. After much prayer and thought, my siblings and I have come up with a solution that we feel is best for our mother. A room will be built on my house for mother with a passage door connecting the two. Accommodating her with bedroom, living space and a fenced backyard so she can bring her dog and best friend "Annie" with her.

I have always promised mother that we would let her remain at home for as long as possible. The reality of it all is that "possible" is no longer "possible."

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