Thursday, June 29, 2017

Three Beautiful Things 06/28/17: Mom's Frustrations, Walking the Trail, Chicken Dinner on the Deck

1. My helplessness frustrates Mom. When Mom wants to sit up, get into her wheelchair, go to the bathroom, get dressed and so on, yes, it is frustrating for her that she can't do these things on her own, but the fact that I need to buzz for the help of a CNA or another trained person to do these things compounds her frustration. Likewise, it's often difficult to hear and understand what Mom says and when I ask her to repeat herself or when I say back to her what I thought I heard, it frustrates her.

Mom's disapproval has always had a strong impact on me -- whether her disapproval was directed my way, at one of my sisters, or at others outside our home.

All of that is magnified now in this stage of Mom's life. There's never been a time when I wanted to help and please Mom more, not to make her mad, than now, but it's inevitable that she's going to be mad at Christy and me. She's frustrated with her situation and we are making decisions and can't always consult with her about them.

Today I arrived at Mom's room shortly after 11 and she was asleep. She'd been to the Wednesday yoga class and, as happened a week ago, it tuckered her out. I sat with Mom until she began to stir around 12:30 (halfway through The Chew!) and her first words to me were, "You know I'm really mad at you, Bill. You took away my appointment with the eye doctor.  All my problems have to do with my eyes."

I said, "I know." (Even though I know her problems have to do with her failing heart, not her eyes.) I didn't defend canceling the appointment by explaining again that Christy and I didn't think she was strong enough for the travel to and from Post Falls or to sit for a ninety minute to two hour appointment. (Just going to yoga put her to sleep for about an hour and a half.)

Last week, before the decision to cancel the appointment, Rich Nearing took a picture of Mom and me in the dining room. It's now on a bulletin board above Mom's bed. Mom looked at it at one point today and said, "Boy, you can sure tell how mad I am at you in that picture."

I replied, "Yeah. I know."

I knew I wasn't going to do anything to lessen Mom being mad at me. I knew I'd just have to take it.

Soon Christy sent a text message telling me Mom's longtime friend Rosie Rinaldi was coming for a visit. I told Mom Rosie was coming and she told me to leave: "Go to the door and let our guest into the living room." I didn't leave. I succeeded, however, in helping Mom understand that we were in the room Rosie would arrive in.

Just before Rosie arrived and Mom looked at me and said, "G-O. Go, Bill."

"Do you want me to leave while Rosie is here."

Mom looked at me like I'd just told her the earth is flat.

"Of course. Now leave!"

I returned as Rosie was leaving. Mom had gone to the bathroom in my absence and was in her wheelchair and asked me to take her into the kitchen and asked me if she had set the table for dinner yet and we had other conversations along these lines, talking about whether Mom had taken care of things at her house.

Before long, Josh, her speech therapist arrived and Josh played a memory game with Mom and this lightened Mom's mood and seemed to brighten her day. Josh lived in Greenbelt, MD until he was a teenager and so when Josh needed to create a distraction before returning to the game, he and I talked about Greenbelt and other parts of Maryland.

It didn't take long for the memory game to wear Mom out. Josh continued the therapy even as Mom was drifting away in her fatigue and increasingly Mom couldn't remember things that happened in the game just moments before. Josh ended the session by finding a CNA to put Mom back on her bed. I excused myself to go to the public restroom. When I returned, Mom as fast asleep.  I went over to Christy's to talk for a while and then back to Mom's house.

2. My sleep has been fitful the last few nights and I know it has to do with not exercising at all. All I've done is walk across the street to the nursing home and back. This morning I walked on the trail that connects the convergence of Riverside and Mission Avenues with the high school. It's the trail I used to sled on, the trail that Christy and I walked on to get to the window, down below, where we could look in and see Carol as a newborn, the trail I walked countless times to and back from high school, the place I hid out at in the summer of 1969 and got drunk for the first time. It was where I walked late in my senior year to confront my failures as an athlete and to level with myself that I was not exceptional in high school. All these years later, the trail is lush not only with memories, but with underbrush. The trees on the hill above the trail thrive. When I was young, the trail was an easy way to get to the high school and a place where students could get off the high school property and smoke cigarettes. Today, the trail helped me get my body moving again and was a source of tranquil natural beauty.

3. Paul, Christy, Everett, and I ate dinner together on Christy and Everett's deck. For cocktails, Christy fixed a bourbon drink that was lemony and little sweet at the same time, a real pleasure. Christy used the grill to cook a beer can chicken and it was moist and flavorful. She also made a delicious potato salad. Do you remember the black bean, rice, and sweet potato salad I served Monday night and used for filling in the fish tacos on Tuesday night? Well, I still had some left.  I added grated cabbage and carrots to the salad, mixed some sour cream, mayonnaise, fresh lime juice, and homemade taco seasoning in a bowl and folded the mixture into the salad and cabbage blend and we had a side of Mexican cole slaw for dinner along with what Christy prepared.

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