Last Thursday, Ron went to visit mom. She was so happy to see him. “I’ve been praying for your surgery.”
“Thanks, mom, I’ll be OK.”
“I know you’re busy; you didn’t have to come. Did Julienne make you?”
“Mom, I wanted to see you. Julienne doesn’t have to ask me to come and see you; I like visiting you. I did not want you to worry about me tomorrow.”
“I’m glad you came.”
Ron stayed with mom for awhile, but as he went to leave mom gave him the tightest hug and kissed Ron. He said she kept telling him one more hug.
Ron said, “Mom, my surgery is at 11AM tomorrow so if you remember would you say a prayer?”
Mom came back quickly with, “Ron I have been praying for you already. I will pray today, tonight, and all day tomorrow.”
“Then I know I’ll be A-OK with all your prayers.”
The next day Ron had total knee replacement surgery. Within 3 hours after surgery, Ron was not only standing up, walking but also climbing 15 stairs. I videotaped the entire event in amazement. I have to say Ron and I believe in the ‘Power of Prayer’, but that was incredible.
Ron was able to leave the hospital shortly thereafter. However the first week after Ron’s surgery due to being on heavy prescribed narcotics, he needed a full-time nurse(aka: me). Thankfully God never gives more than you can handle or so I am told. I was glad mom was well aware that Ron needed extra care this week.
Although mom does not talk on the phone, on Monday I received a call from Dana*. She told me that mom wanted her to call me to see how Ron was doing. I told her to tell mom that her prayers worked and that Ron was doing very well. I also told Dana* to let mom know that I would be there tomorrow.
When I hung up, I felt so good that mom not only remembered that Ron was having surgery but that she was caring about how Ron was feeling. In the past few months, I have noticed that mom cares more about her family than about her illness. For quite awhile with her illness she only cared about herself. Her tenderness now is a welcome blessing.
On Tuesday when I visited mom, she immediately asked how Ron was feeling. I took out my camera and showed her a photo of him.
“Mom, look at how good Ron looks. See the t-shirt Ron wore that day.”
“What does it say?”
“Life is Good".
Mom smiled, “Does he have pain?”
“He’s on pain medication to take care of his pain. The medication makes him sleep a great deal.”
Mom loves to go outside for a stroll so whenever I visit I take her out and today was no different. The weather was in the 70s and the wind had shifted due to an imminent storm later that day. As we went onto the elevator a flyer caught my eye and I said, “Mom can you read that flyer?”
She studied it and said, “Flag Day . . . Friday . . . June 14, 2013.”
“What happens on Flag Day?”
“Julienne, it’s your birthday!”
“Hey, Hey, mom, you are right!!!! You remembered.”
“You thought I forgot.”
“Mom, you have not remembered my birthday in years. You are doing great.” In my heart, I was singing Oh Happy Day!
“Are you having a party?”
“No, how about if I come back Friday to celebrate with you?”
“What about Ron?”
“He is not able to come here that soon.”
The weather outside was really windy. In fact as I wheeled mom towards the gazebo, we passed other people heading to the entrance of The Community*. One of them said, “Don’t go far a storm is brewing.” Her statement reminded me of one of the opening scenes in The Wizard of Oz.
“Mom, are you cold? Do you want to go back in?”
“No, let’s go to the fishing pond.”
With that I continued on, if mom was comfortable being outside in this weather so was I. We passed many flowering bushes, but unfortunately the beautiful peonies we had gazed at on our last visit were at the tail end of their duration. They were discolored and limp. Mom said, “They look bad.”
“You’re right, mom. The rose bushes still look gorgeous.”
We sat by mom’s fishing pond for a short while and then headed back. As I brought mom back into The Community* mom's hair was disshoveled from the strong wind blowing her hair. I pulled out my hair brush before bringing her back upstairs. She said, "Are we taking pictures?"
"No, mom, your hair was wind blown from outside."
Just then Sam* passed by, he is a long time friend of mom's since she used to live at The Community's* Supportive Living Facility. Sam* said, "Hello, Gilda, my friend. How are you today?"
Mom answered, "Fair . . . How about a picture?"
Sam* was startled, "Me?"
"Sam, mom has photos of all her favorite people and she does not have one of you." With that I took a photo of Sam* and mom.
When I parked mom in her wheelchair next to her friend, Darlene*, I said, “Mom, I will be back sometime Friday.”
“Right, I will see you on Flag Day.”
“If you’re busy taking care of Ron I understand.”
“Mom, I can make time for you both. See you Friday.”
To this day after our hugs and kisses, our visits are not complete without mom and I blowing kisses to each other as I leave. She loves this part of our visit and so do I.
Flag Day was here. After making Ron breakfast, getting him situated with proper meds and a loaded ice machine, I left to see mom.
What I found stunned and surprised me. As I stepped off the elevator and walked down the hallway, I saw mom moving her wheelchair towards her room and then all of a sudden her head dropped. As I kept walking towards her I noticed after 20 seconds mom’s head raised again and she was starting to move again. Then 10 seconds later her head dropped again. By that time I reached her, for those seconds when her head dropped she was out and as her head lay down for a few seconds she would jerk and almost as though she was started her head would bob up again.
“Mom, where are you going?”
“Bed . . . tired,” mom struggled to even get those words out.
Little did I know that for the next 2 hours, every 20 seconds mom’s eyes would close and her head would drop to her chest, then shortly thereafter she would abruptly wake up. This patterned never stopped our entire visit.
“Why are you so tired, mom?”
“Last night . . . no sleep. Dreamt . . . dying.”
“Tell me about your dream. What do you remember?” Each sentence had to be repeated several times due to mom dozing off.
“Saw . . . little girl,” mom commented.
“Who was the little girl?”
“Was she by herself?”
“Not . . . sure . . . just . . . saw . . . face.”
“Anything else you remember?”
“My head . . . hurt.”
“Does your head hurt now?”
“No . . . this morning. Nodded off. “Behind ear” mom pointed to her left ear. “Hurt . . . three spots! Nodded off. Mom put her hand on her head, “On top . . . head.”
“Mom, the top of your head hurt, as well as, behind your ears at the same time?’
Mom shook her head as if to affirm what I just said.
I immediately went to talk with Billy* her nurse to find out what was going on with mom. Billy* said that mom had never mentioned anything to her. She asked mom, “Do you have a headache now?”
“No,” mom said.
“You’ve got to tell me when you have a headache. I can’t help you if you don’t tell me.
“Mom, when you don’t feel good please tell Billy* so she can give you medication to make the pain go away.”
Mom acknowledged that she understood.
I asked Billy*mom’s nurse why mom keeping nodding off every few seconds; she had no explanation. She indicated there was no medication change.
When I posed the question if Billy* thought my mom could be having a TIA due to her recent headaches and her continually dozing off, she said no. I asked if we could give mom aspirin anyway. Upon that question, she proceeded to tell me that since mom had a headache the proper medicine was Tylenol. Billy* went to her medicine drawer. She put the Tylenol in a small cup and with a spoon fed the pill to mom; then held a cup with water and a straw for mom to wash the pill down. I thanked Billy* for responding to mom’s needs quickly. She told me she would keep a close eye on her to see if the headache returns.
“Cold, Julienne,” mom shivered. She was wearing a lilac sweater over her top with long pants, yet she still had the chills.
“Mom would you like to go outside and sit in the sun to warm up?”
Mom shook her head to agree before nodding off again.
“Billy*, may I take mom outside in her present condition?”
She gave me a firm, “Oh, yes, of course.”
Mom likes to feel somewhat in control so mom does not want the footrests on her wheelchair so mom can move around by herself. Normally pushing mom’s wheelchair takes little effort on my part as mom raises her feet and we move along nicely to our designated spot. Pushing mom’s wheelchair today was anything but easy due to mom’s feet falling onto the ground every time she dozed off so getting outside seemed like mission impossible. I wheeled her slowly and carefully so I would not hurt her feet.
Once we reached the outdoors, I parked mom in the sunshine and let mom sleep and soak up the sunshine. Mom continued to wake up briefly and each time as if like ‘Groundhog Day’ mom would say, “feels good”. Then her eyes would close and she would be momentarily out again.
Several people passed us and smiled: many commenting that mom sure seemed to be enjoying the sunshine on her face. Some thought she looked at peace.
At one point, I asked one of the passersby if she would take a photo of mom and me. I told her today was my birthday and I would love to have a photo with mom to remember the day. The woman commented, “My daughter is better with taking photos and she is right behind me. I’ll have her take the photo.”
Sure enough her teenage daughter was only too happy to accommodate me and afterwards said, “Your mother is quite beautiful.” I found those words unusual coming from a teenager girl, but pleasantly so.
Without hesitation I said, “She sure is!”
Mom and I sat out there until lunch time when I walked her back in. Since mom could barely hold her head up, I thought I should stay and help her to eat her lunch. I have assisted mom in eating many times in the past when she had some not so good days, but today was unlike any time before. As I would feed mom a spoonful of food, she would close her eyes and down her head would fall without chewing. I would have to coach her to stay awake, “Mom, wake up! chew your food!” After a few attempts at trying to feed her mashed potatoes or tilapia, I told her we are going to settle for chicken broth so that I could make sure she wouldn’t choke.
Before I left I told mom. “Today is a special birthday because I turned 58 and you are 85. Our numbers are reversed. I think this means this year is going to be a special one.”
“I hope . . . good . . . for you!”
“Good for us, mom.”
“Wish you . . many . . . many . . . more,” mom struggled to get all that out.
“Thanks, mom. I’m glad I spent part of my birthday with you.”
Mom smiled, “You make . . . over me.”
“I’m your daughter. I love you very much.”
“With all my heart, Julienne”, mom hugged and kissed me.
“I know, mom, I really know!