Thursday, January 11, 2018

They feel unloved today

My mother was slumped over with exhaustion when I saw her this morning. I sat next to her and tried to gently wake her and then a staff member came over and woke her up to ask her about her lunch options. He chose cheese pizza, mashed potatoes, and Boston Cream Pie. She was excited about each option, and poo-pooed the green beans and squash.

I put my hat on my mother and many women came over to tell her how stylish and beautiful she looked. She said, "Thank you. It is my son's hat and he has a nice smile." The women then kept telling each other how beautiful they look today. What good therapy for them.

The residents of the center were active and they had a similar theme today. No one felt loved. On woman came over to ask if I liked her. "Of course, I do. Why do you ask?" Crestfallen, he uttered several syllables that did not form any words. She teared up and started rolling away. "Why are you leaving? I want you to stay. I like you and so does my mother. Do you know Connie?"

"Samma, samma, samma," she uttered and she and my mother spoke to one another. My mother turned to me and said, "I don't know what she is saying!" She wheeled herself away with a heavy heart. Then another woman came over to the table. I said, "Hello," and she asked, "Is it O.K. to sit here?" "Of course. Join us." "I don't mean to bother you." "No bother. Are you here for lunch?" "Yes, but if you want me to leave I will." "Please stay. Do you know my mother, Connie?"

"O, you are Connie too? I'm Connie." "I haven't seen you before. Do you like me?" My mother replied, "I don't know you, but I like your name. That's my name too." They both beamed.  The other Connie showed me her necklace that her mother bought her when she was fifteen, but she is feeling sad because her parents won't come visit her anymore. I told her that her necklace was beautiful and that we were glad to visit with her today. She talked on and on about her family.

She said she was from Webster, so I asked if she visited Lake Chargoggagoggmanchaugagoggchabunagungamaugg. "Yes, I used to live nearby." We repeated the name of the lake three times together and the staff laughed and laughed.

Then the previously mute woman rushed by in her wheelchair and shouted, "There he is," and then went back to darting up and down the hallways.

A concerned looking woman came in with her mother and gave the staff many instructions about her mother. She brought her favorite clothing and told them everything she likes to eat and all the stuff she likes to do. Her eyes darted about the room almost as fast as the previously mute woman darted up the hallway in her wheelchair.

I called her over and said, "Just breathe. Relax. This is a good, caring staff. Your mother is in good hands. Just go home and rest well."

My mother's meal came. It looked delicious - very cheesy pizza, buttery mashed potatoes, and a hearty slice of Boston Cream Pie. My mother looked at it and made a face. I'm not hungry. "Well, don't eat it." "I can't." "Did you have breakfast?" "Probably not." "Does the food have any taste?" "The pizza probably has good taste, but I don't want it." "O.K. If you get hungry later, they can bring you something."  The staff came over to get her to eat and one staff member whispered, "I made it myself." "I would probably like it, and I'm sure it is good, but I can't eat it right now." My mother spoke in a raspy voice as she suffers from a sore throat.

After chatting for a while, my mother said, "I hear these negative voices. It is from people, like Ma and Pa, and Betty, wanting me to eat. They are making me feel bad." "Listen, you don't have to eat." "I think they are angry with me." "I wonder if they feel concerned for you. It might not be that they are angry, but they are worried about you. They know if you eat, you'll get healthy. They are urging you because they care for you." "That sounds better." "Listen, you eat when you want to eat. That's all. You do it on your own time." "That's right. Thanks. I feel better."

Another woman came over to eat her meal. She wanted to eat her Boston Cream Pie first, so I encouraged it. She and the other Connie exchanged a few words and called a few names. "Why don't you like me?" "I do like you." "Well, you called me a name." "You got me angry." So I interjected, "She was using that term affectionately as friends sometimes do. She wants to remain your friend."
"Is that so?" "I like what he said. Yes, we are friends." The woman quickly devoured her meal and rolled away.

My mother started dozing and I gently touched her elbow. "Am I dying?" "Yes, you are." "I'm in pain and I don't want the pain anymore." "We will give you something for the pain if you need it." "I don't want any pain, and I'm not ready yet." "O.K. Well you decide when, but it will be important for you to think about the happy place where you are going and the people you will see there again. Ma and Pa, Dawn Mari, and Betty will be happy that you are with them." "OK, but I just need to nap now. I don't want to keep sleeping, but I fall asleep often."

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