Thursday, December 14, 2017

Getting Stronger by the Day

Over a month ago, one of the nurse aids said to me about my mother, "She is getting weaker and is frequently tired." She had a knowing look in her eyes. Today, on Thanksgiving, and earlier this week, visits to my mother show she is getting stronger.

The other day, my mother had a host of visitors: my sister from Maine, my brother from Southern California, and my local sister's family. We played Christmas songs for her and she sang along. She hooted and shouted and spoke loudly. She was quite animated and she wore all her emotions on her sleeve.

This afternoon I showed up in my clerical attire so I could attend a wake later in the day. It made a difference to my mother and the other residents. She complained a bit about a number of things, and then yelled, "I want to be Catholic, and then she looked embarrassed and said, "I don't know why I said that."

I played some Christmas songs for her on my phone and she sang along. Because she was low on oxygen because her tank needed replacement, she could not recall the names of Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby.

I asked how her legs felt and she said, "Much better." I noticed she was sitting on a wheelchair pillow with armrests. I believe a sibling purchased that for her. It makes her seat much more comfortable. She said her legs hurt less.

I asked if she would like communion and she replied, "Of course." I said, "OK. Let's pray. How would you like to begin prayer?" She said, "I don't know how to. How do I begin?"

"Let's make the sign of the cross. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

"What comes next?" I don't know!

"How would you address God?" Dear God.

"Excellent. So tell God what you would like?" Right now? "Yes." I can do that? "Yes." I don't know the words. "Just tell God what you want."

She says, "I want peace for myself and for everyone I know, my friends, and my family." I said, "That's good. You did well. Would you like to pray the Lord's Prayer?"

Our Father...

"This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world."

And here is communion. "It was good. I prayed and then he just floated away. I want more peace."

Did you want another piece? 'I said I want more peace, peace for myself and my friends. How do I get it?"

You take another piece of communion. "That's it?" Yes. " I give her another section of the host. "He floated away again. What happens now?" Well, now you are prepared to go to heaven. God will make a happy house for you and your loved ones.  "That's what I want. I'll get it?" Yes, you will. Very much so.

A woman comes over with two dolls and begins to talk about their noses. My mother is distracted naturally so we end the conversation. Interspersed throughout a wide range of topics, she keeps returning to her prayer and being Catholic and getting others to go to church.

I let her know that I have to go to a wake because someone dear has died. With a concerned look, she said, "That makes me sad." I get ready to go and the kitchen staff comes over to set the table and to put a bib cloth around my mother. She just finished an ice cream, but asked, "What's for dinner?" Either shepherd's pie or turkey cranberry croissant sandwiches.

She rolled her eyes with delight and swirled her tongue in expectation. It was a good time to leave her with the kitchen staff. Bon appetit.

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