On Wednesday late afternoon, I received a call from Dana*. She wanted me to know that the aides in the lunchroom had suggested having mom move to another table for lunch where the staff would be able to assist mom during lunch to help her eat. Mom had refused to go stating that she did not want to leave the table she always eats at because her good friend, Darlene*, sits with her.
When they insisted she move, mom said, “Call my daughter . . . see what she says to do.” I understand that they want to put everyone who needs help eating together so the staff can help those residents and make sure they eat. But more importantly I understand mom not wanting to leave her one place that she feels so comfortable.
Dana* mentioned that she would make sure the staff would keep mom and Dana* together all times but while they ate. I understood that mom has lost 29 pounds since she first was admitted there and knew they were concerned that due to mom’s tremors she is not able to do a good job feeding herself. Dana* and the staff are only doing with mom’s best interest at heart. Since mom does not talk on the phone, Dana* assured me that she would let mom know that we talked.
On Thursday, I woke up deciding that I would go over to see mom and stay to help feed mom during her lunchtime. Mom was happy to see me. She looked beautiful dressed in a sweater that Sandy had given her. She was alert; her hands were clasped together in a peaceful manner on her lap and she had a nice smile on her face.
“They called . . . you?”
“I came to help you with lunch, mom.”
“My mind’s . . . blank, Julienne. I . . . don’t . . . make . . . sense.”
“I am sure that is frustrating, mom. They cannot help you if they do not understand what you are saying.”
“Right!” mom shook her head in agreement.
I saw that mom did not have a blanket on so I asked her if she would like the blanket that she received from Tracey and Jeff this Christmas. She agreed.
When I laid the blanket on mom’s lap I said, “Mom, this blanket is so soft. You will stay warm.”
“Did they make this blanket by hand?” mom has made several gorgeous Afghans and she thought her blanket might be handmade.
“Mom, they bought this blanket for you to keep you nice and toasty.”
“Oh . . . yeah.”
Mom looked so nice that I asked her if I could have someone take a photo of us together. We have not had a new current photo of mom in way over a month because I knew she did not feel good enough to have her photo taken. She agreed and liked this photo.
“Mom, when we go in the lunchroom you will have to show me which table they want you to sit at now.”
“I want . . . Darlene*”.
I did not want to argue with mom so I wheeled her into the activity room. Darlene* was sitting at their table all by herself. I sat mom in her normal place and pulled a chair up for myself. Darlene* was happy to see both mom and me. I went over the selections with mom and she chose what she wanted to eat.
Mom ordered roast beef with mashed potatoes (no gravy as mom says: it runs right through her), bread, fruit cup, and cranberry juice. The food smelled and looked delicious. I asked mom if I could cut up her roast beef and she agreed. She initially began to pick up the meat with her fingers until she announced that she would like to use her fork.
Although mom’s hands and mouth shake profusely, mom never gave up using her fork. She was able to feed herself two large portions of roast beef, half of the mashed potatoes, half of a slice of bread that I cut in small pieces and her fruit cup.
Mom has the toughest time trying to drink her cranberry juice. She has the best success if she does not try to pick up the Styrofoam cup with the straw and rather leans over the cup and sips out of the straw. Though sometimes mom forgets and reaches to pick the cup up. There have been many incidents recently of mom being covered in cranberry juice due to her not being able to hold on to the cup.
While mom was eating the roast beef I said, “Mom, I bet that roast beef melts in your mouth.”
She said, “How do you know? Did you . . . eat some?
“Mom, when I was cutting up the pieces they broke apart so easily. The meat looks so tender. Are you enjoying your lunch?”
“Yes . . . pretty good.”
I showed the staff that mom ate almost all her food by herself. I mentioned that the only thing I did was cut up mom’s meat and bread and helped her with her cranberry juice.
When mom was done eating, mom said, “How much longer . . . we . . . do . . . this?”
“Mom, ‘only God knows’.”
“Only . . . God.”
“Yes, mom, only God.”
When I left mom, we hugged, kissed, prayed, and blew kisses. I was comforted by her smile as she said, “Bye, my dear daughter.” She had never used those words with me before. Mom was at peace today. I was thankful I was able to spend time with her.