It's coming up on six months now since mother entered the nursing home. I have cut my visits down from daily, to every other day now, except for Saturdays. It's a Thursday, and I have come for a visit. I open the front door to the home and instantly see the figure of a small, gray haired woman, sitting in her wheelchair, barely recognizable as my mother, staring at me as I walk down the hall. "You look like my Jean!" she says. I laugh a little and say "I do!" She replies back, "And you sound like her too!" Looking at a nurse standing, observing it all at the nurses station, I began to play mother a little bit. "Well, I guess that I might just be your Jean" I say. "Well, how did you get to be my daughter?" she asks. Grinning at the nurse, with a quick wink, I say "I guess you birthed me!" Mother begins to give that all familiar laugh of hers, showing every tooth in her head.
Mother's room is located just around the corner which she shares with a lady of similar age, but who has all her faculties in tact.
When mother lived at my house, I would give her the three "C's" as needed: Cut, Color and Curl. I was always determined that I would never allow my mom's hair to become gray. I had asked this question of her many times way back when her mind was not as demented as now, "Mom, when you get old and unable to have your hair done, do you still want me to color it?" Her answer would always be, "Well, I guess I do!" This isn't the first promise I've had to break, but one that I'm reminded of every time I see her.
Every day upon arriving, I quickly wheel mother to her room, plug her curling iron in and began to curl away, somehow thinking that if I keep her hair curled, the color of it wouldn't be as noticeable. Mother's roommate, fills me in on the happenings in "the home" while I do the honors.
It was just a few nights ago, that I had a call from one of the nurses on duty, informing me that mother had become agitated at one of her fellow residents and gave them a punch. I had noticed mother becoming more and more outspoken and aggressive over the past few months. Most of her medication had been stopped in order to keep her awake more. I must say, I was a little set back, at the thought of my beautiful, kind and loving mother, punching somebody. After being assured that everything was under control and that the doctor would be notified of mother's behavior in case medication was needed for her agitation, I felt a little reassured that the poor recipient of mother's bad deed would be alright. Upon telling the incident to some of my family members, we have jokingly named her "Rocky."
My husband is a member of the local Rescue Squad, which entitles him to sport around an emergency radio most places he goes. Last night, I was sitting back watching "Wheel of Fortune" when he opened the door and announced that it had come over his radio that the Fire Department had been summoned to "the nursing home" and he wouldn't be surprised if "Rocky" hadn't pulled the alarm. As I continue to curl mother's hair, I purposely mention the fire alarm incident to her roommate, and in turn, is obliged to tell me the details. She states that it was just a test, with someone coming over the loud speaker, telling everyone that things were alright. I look away and breathe a sigh of relief with a slight grin on my face. I guess if you look hard enough, one can find a little humor in anything.
A lot of mother's caregivers stop by her room during my visits and I enjoy a tale or two that they share with me about shenanigans that mother has been up to. I don't know about all nursing facilities, but I can really feel a "since of family" at this nursing facilty.
I unplug my curling iron, say my goodbyes, and head out. As I'm walking down the hall, I can hear my mother talking and sense that she is following me. I dare not look back, but quickly walk out the door. I have a habit of telling her when I leave, that I need to go and run the church bulletins off at the church before it gets dark. This little fib has saved me many a time from her not wanting me to leave. Even though mother is deep in dementia, somewhere down inside her, she still remembers that I have always typed our church bulletin. Dementia has not yet taken the love of the Lord from her heart, and gives permission for her daughter to go and serve HIM, even if it's just to type a church bulletin.