Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Root Beer Float

Yesterday's visit to my mother was a nice day. Nothing profound happened, but it was a good day. When I arrived, she was napping, so I sat with her until she woke up. She brightened as soon as she saw me. She is like one of those characters in the movie "Inside Out" because each character typifies an emotion they present to its fullness.

My mother was cheering up a woman, who is nonverbal, next to her. She treated her with great kindness and made all sorts of comforting sounds to make her smile. This nursing home is a place of caring.

For any person who has decided not to put a loved one in a nursing home because his or her wish is to die at home, I ask you to reconsider. The social dimension of being with colleagues who can minister to them ought not to be overlooked. My mother, I'm sure, would have wanted to live at home as long as she could, but she is thriving by being in a place where so many people shower her with affection and care, in ways that the family could never provide for her.

Sometimes people say, "No one can care for so-and-so the same way that I can." That is not a helpful statement. The professionals in a memory-care facility have eyes and ears all around and make certain that they respect the patient's freedom while also tending to the person's need as a holistic team.

I am pleased with the stimulation and range of activities in which my mother engages. She has options to join into many activities of leisure and fun, and now she has the opportunity to share them with others. She is sharing her emotions in ways in which she is receiving so much back.

When she comforts others, she also is comforted. When she makes others smile, she smiles. When she wipes away a tear, others come to console her. She is in a community where many of her emotional needs are met.

After talking for a while, we were set to begin communion and then my sister came in for a brief visit. Instead, we talked with my sister for a while and then the staff prepared Root Beer floats with strawberry ice cream. My mother enjoyed it so much and she wondered where in the world I learned how to make such a delicious snack. I told her from my Italian grandmother.

I tried to massage her legs but one was feeling too painful, so I just tapped right below her kneecap, which makes her legs jump because of her reflexes. She giggled.

Then, as she looked at my sister, she said, "I love you," and started crying. We asked how she was feeling, and she said, "Happy. I cry when I'm happy. I cry when I'm sad."

She talked about her sisters and her parents for a while. Apparently, my grandfather smoked a pipe and cigars. My mother said my aunt tried to get my grandmother to smoke cigarettes, but she was not a natural smoker so he gave up trying. I always wondered why she was the only one who did not smoke.

So, we enjoyed communion. We read the readings from Matthew 11:25-30.  "I thank you, Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, for revealing these things to the simple.... Come to me, all who are weary and whose load is heavy, and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light." My mother made soft noises as she heard the words and then said, "I should get a book like that. There are so many good words in it. I should have read more of it in my life."

Then, a miniature dog bounded into the room carrying an orange ball, wanting to play catch, and my mother squealed in delight. "Lulu," she called out. I called it a "Chipmunk," which made her laugh.

The ice cream float cooled her down and she needed a blanket to get warm again. Mind you, the room was already warm. I retrieved one for her. She oohed and aahed and immediately fell asleep. She awoke to say, "It is time for me to sleep. Give me a kiss goodbye." "See you later, Mom."

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