The Little Black Hat

Posted On October 1, 2009

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“You don’t really go see your mom every day, do you? ”

Yes, just about.

“Well you don’t really have to go.”

No, it’s a choice.

Mom is a lot like a two year old now. She has goods days and bad days. Some days she is very tired and cries for no reason.

On other days, her voice is strong and she has quite a bit to say. I don’t know which days those will be, so if I don’t go, I might miss one.

And like a two year old, she’s sometimes paying more attention to her surroundings that you might think.

She also needs to be fed. Would you want your two year old going to bed hungry? Well I don’t want to trust that the staff is going to take the time to adequately feed my mom like I do.

Sometimes Mom tells me, “I’m so glad you’re here.”

Last night Mom was crying after dinner. It was the second night in a row. I’m told stroke victims sometimes can’t control their emotions and cry for no apparent reason.

Later I was ready to leave when the new Good Nurse came in to check if some ointment had been left in mom’s room. This is the first time I’ve seen a night shift nurse going into residents’ rooms and checking up on things. I decided to stay to check up on the aide who was going to put Mom to bed to make sure the ointment was used. Yes, I was tired, but it if was important enough for the Good Nurse to check on it, I could wait another half hour or whatever was needed to make sure it was used.

The aide came into the room a few minutes later. She didn’t have on a name tag but she had a nice smile and pleasant demeanor.

All of a sudden Mom’s face brightens up…..and with great enthusiasm she tells the aide, “I love your hat!”

The young black woman was not wearing a hat.  But she did have a fashionable haircut that was kind of spiked, creating an outline reminescent of a stylish little black hat from the ’30s or ’40s…the kind with a  a little plum of feathers sticking up.

I was glad I waited.

Potty Talk at the Dinner Table

“I had a good BM this morning. Even they said it was good.”

That’s good news, Mom.

“Every time I do something, they write it down. I don’t know what they’re studying.”

Just another suppertime conversation at the nursing home.

An Answer To My Mom’s Prayers

Yesterday while visiting my mother at the nursing home, she told me that every day she says a little prayer asking God for me to stop by and see her. Then I show up and she knows her prayer has been answered.

I smiled when she told me this.

“You’re laughing at me, but it’s true.”

She’s so sweet. Now the pressure is on to keep the faith.

The Coat Stayed In The Closet

Christmas has come and gone and now it’s on to a new year. I think I lot of us are ready for some good news.

I didn’t bother to put up a Christmas tree this year. There are plenty of nice trees of all sizes throughout Mom’s nursing home, so I really didn’t need one at home. I wheeled Mom through the halls and we stopped and looked at them throughout December. Mom’s eyesight isn’t too good — part of the dementia — so it’s hard to tell how much she could really see on each tree. She would agree they were pretty as I pointed out different ornaments on each one.

Even mom got tired of all of the kids singing groups traipsing through the activity room all month long. Come January, I’m sure there won’t be any more girl scout troupes or elementary school piano recitals.

Mom often comes up with witty little comments. Sometimes she makes observations that miss the mark. She’s still my mom and wants to share her dinner with me and tells me to eat one of her cookies.

It’s tough to come up with things to talk about. I ask Mom lots of questions about the past and sometimes her answers are surprising as she reached into her memory and comes up with a story I have not heard before.  I asked Mom about her memories of Christmas as a child. Her eyes were closed and a smile came across her face as she recalled that one year her big brother Robert had made her a toy kitchen cabinet. This would have been during the Depression.

The evening news on Christmas Eve carried a story about 95 year old woman who had been left outside to die in the cold at a nursing home the night before.  Someone wanted to turn up the TV to hear the details…but I shook my head “no” to protect my mom from the news.

There was a lot more excitement in the air and Mom sensed that Christmas was upon us because she asked me if she had a winter coat there. “I might need it to go out.” I didn’t  have the heart to tell her it was going to be staying in the closet.

Holiday Treats at the Nursing Home

Mom’s nursing home held a little holiday party for the residents and their families yesterday. They served egg nog, which was a real treat as Mom and I always shared a carton at Christmas time. I think we are the only ones in the family who liked it. We each drank two cups.

The activities “guy” arrived in a Santa suit, and of course he knew every resident’s name as he greeted each one and posed for a quick picture. I didn’t know how much they would get out of  a visit from Santa, but anything that breaks up the day is a good thing.

Santa had on a very good-looking red suit – one our table mates commented that it was a very nice, rich looking material.  Some of the Santa suits you see are kind of cheesey and cheap looking. I noted that St. Nick looked pretty good as he was more trim than some I had seen in the past and that this was  more in keeping with our health conscious times.

As Santa approached mom, who is now confined to a wheelchair — to my surprise not only did she have a big smile on her face  – but she was stretching out her arms and reaching for a hug!  I think my mouth dropped open and I held back some tears as I watched her respond with such joy to something as simple and timeless as a visit from Santa Claus. She was the only one I saw respond with such obvious outward excitement.

After Santa gave Mom her hug and posed for a picture, her turned to the next lady, “Virginia!”

As Santa and Virginia smiled for the camera, I announced to the room, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

Several people laughed and I think just about everyone in the room was smiling. It was a good day.