1. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with Mom, starting about 1:00. She was seated in her wheelchair. At first, she was in a bad mood. She's been combative with her aid, who was sitting with her, refusing to eat lunch, and her first words to me when the aid said, "Your son is here", were, "What are you doing here?"
The aid left after she asked me if I would be all right being left alone with Mom. I didn't really know the answer to her question, but, feeling hopeful, I said I would be okay.
And I was.
It was an intense two hours with Mom.
I listened closely to what Mom said, did my best to answer her questions by giving her short responses and did my best not to contradict or further confuse her while also trying being honest with her. Mom didn't remember that Christy had been by for a couple of hours in the morning. She didn't remember she had showered in the morning. She was sure she had driven her car that morning and wanted to apologize to the person (she couldn't remember who) to whom she didn't give a ride. For a while, she thought she and I were in Ted and Dorothy Turnbow's house. At the same time, she knew Ted and Dorothy had passed away. She repeatedly asked me about going home and, in the next moment, thought she was at home, that the bed at Kindred was in her house, that she'd slept in this bed, and I slept in the same building, in another room.
At one point, trying to move the subject away from home, going home, and where she was, I asked her if she knew whose birthday it was today (July 3rd).
She didn't know.
I told her it was Carol's birthday. I told her I'd been thinking about the day Carol was born, in 1963, and how Grandma Woolum told me when I got up in the morning I had a new baby sister and I said, "Shoot! I really wanted a brother!" Mom smiled, even chuckled a bit. She was remembering.
I asked Mom if she remembered that she and Dad let Christy and me name Carol.
"Do you remember how we decided to name her Carol Lynn?"
I could see in her eyes that she did remember and she told the story of how Christy and I wanted to name her after President Kennedy's daughter Caroline, but we thought her name was Carol Lynn. We talked about how even though we got it wrong, we got it right. Neither of us could imagine Carol by any other name. The name Carol fits her perfectly.
This line of conversation was working much better. I asked Mom if she remembered Carol's first birthday and who was at our house. Mom remembered Carol sitting on the kitchen table and we both remembered her cake with the single candle and that Ruth and Sharon were there and Earl must have been along with Grandma Woolum. Mom remembered Jimmy Morgan being at the house, too.
I asked Mom is she remembered Carol's 40th birthday back in 2003. At first Mom didn't remember, but when I said in happened in her backyard, Mom said, "It was spectacular."
I agreed and, together, we remembered the fried chicken and potato salad. I said that Debbie and Adrienne and Molly sang together and Mom said, "Yes, and others did, too."
"Right! They did. And people read poems and other things."
Then I asked if she remembered who arrived late in the party. She said, "April and Mary?" I didn't know who she meant by Mary, but said, "Right! And a little later Dick and Renae arrived."
She smiled widely. "Oh, yeah." She chuckled. "Dick and Renae. That was good."
2. Things continued to move in this better direction when Mom asked me to have the plate of food she had earlier resisted warmed up. I brought it back from the nurses station and I took her tray away after she ate some of her chicken and gravy, some pasta, and an entire brownie.
Then she asked me for her lip balm and, as I rummaged through the drawer it's stored in, I took out her makeup bag.
"Let me have that."
Aside from needing to intervene when she started to eat her the round make-up application pad -- she thought it was a wafer -- Mom's mind got focused as she took an inventory of her make-up and decided that her "old dry lips" needed some color so she put on, first, a neutral lipstick, and second, a lipstick with a little more color.
Around 3:00, Emma, an occupational therapist, came and I left the room, picked up a prescription at Yoke's, made a quick trip to Christy's house and Mom's, and, when I returned around 4:00 to Mom's room, she was asleep. I left her alone. Zoe and Paul went to see Mom for about 90 minutes or so at 4:30 and left her resting after dinner.
3. Today was also Everett's birthday. Christy and Everett and I celebrated with Christy's terrific pork roast and her home made apple sauce with a rhubarb custard pie a la mode on Christy and Everett's back yard deck. I made a sweet and vinegar-y coleslaw and a fried bacon, potato, and green bean side. The recipe called for the potatoes to be fried in oil, but I love bacon and green beans, so I fried up a bunch of chopped bacon, fried the potatoes in the grease, and added the beans, once cooked. If you'd like to see both recipes, the cole slaw recipe is here and the fried potato/green bean is here, minus the bacon. By the way, if you are fixing the cole slaw for people who enjoy a little heat, I think some red pepper flakes would add dimension to the sweetness of the sugar and the bite of the vinegar -- and I used red wine vinegar, not cider vinegar.