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Lessons Learned From An Independent Woman

November 8, 2012

           As most of you know I have been down with some kind of crud for several weeks. The doctor is still not exactly sure what it is, but new med’s seem to be slowly helping.  During this time I have not been able to go visit mom, not knowing what germs I could possibly pass on to others, or additional ones I could pick up with my weakened immune system.  It really broke my heart to not be able to see her during this time, not being able to see for myself how she was doing.

Of course, she was better than I had expected, much better than the last time  I saw her. Today, she had her hair pulled back into a ponytail, she looked so darn cute!  The nurse said they have been doing that for her for several days.  I was surprised that she allows them to mess with hair like that, and putting it in a band, when she screams and hollers about it being washed.   I try to periodically cut it, but I think as long as she lets them put it in a ponytail, I am just going to let it be.  I have seen pictures of her, in her youth with a ponytail, but I don’t ever remember personally seeing her with a ponytail.  I like it!

In the early days of these visits, I learned that she did not eat well, if I was around.  She either wanted to feed me and share her meals, or she would just sit and talk, and not eat.  So I have usually tried to avoid being there at mealtimes so she would eat.  However, today, I had no choice, and had to be there at lunchtime.  Turned out to be a good thing,  (I think?)

I learned a lot today.

First of all, after going there several times a week for over a year, everyone becomes family, other family members and staff commented on my recent absences and was quick to fill me in on Virginia’s antics while I was away.  Certain residents with bright eyes and broad smiles waved from where they were sitting.  One very sweet little friend was so happy to see me, she got up from her dinner table and walked over to me, leaned down and kissed my forehead, said, “Hello, I am so happy to see you, you are so pretty.”  She wears big chunky rings and necklaces, and always a hat! She has quite the collection of the newsboy style hats, in an assortment of fabrics and colors. Mom has called her a boy since the day she arrived.  She says, “I don’t know why he has to wear that hat all the time!”

In recent months, mom’s vocabulary has diminished to almost a whisper (except when she is mad!), and most words are garbled gibberish, with only occasional understandable words.  Except while the hat lady was talking to me,  Mom had a pleasant enough expression on her face, while looking at the hat lady, but she reached up and patted my arm, and said, “This is my friend.” Which she repeated to the hat lady two more times, the hat lady bent down, kissed mom on the forehead, told her how sweet she was, and returned to her  own table.

 When given her choice between Pepperoni Pizza or Chicken Alfredo, she promptly said, “Pepperoni Pizza.” I asked about the Alfredo, to which I was told, “Yes she can have it, but she said she wants Pizza.”  They brought her both, along with a small bowl of chopped fruit, and a dish of steamed vegetables.  I watched as she picked up the bowl of fruit, and started to eat it like it was an ice cream cone, sticking her tongue down into the little plastic bowl.  Who needs a spoon? She was getting the job done, until the bowl was deeper than her tongue could reach.  Of course I tried to help, and grabbed the spoon to try and feed her.  WRONG thing to do! She wasn’t having any part of being fed.  I tried to tell myself, she must function fine, when I am not here, why must I think I should need to help?  Then she moved on to the pizza.  She used her spoon to pry off the cheese topping and then proceeded to tear off little bits of it to eat.  She tore off a corner of the crust, and sucked, sucked and sucked on it, until it was nearly mush. Then she was able to chew it and swallow it.   She could even gum that pepperoni down to nothing! She proved you do not have to have teeth to eat Pizza!  She then used her fingers to scoop up the steamed vegetables and put them in the bowl with the Alfredo.  Now when she went into the Alfredo bowl with her fingers she got her veggies and the Alfredo at the same time.  One smart woman!!  It may not have been the neatest way to be eating, but she was doing it all by herself. She didn’t need me or anyone else to help her eat her lunch!

I guess what I really learned today,

was that she doesn’t need me,

as much as I  WANT her to need me,

nor as much as I still need her!

But the most important thing I learned today is

 that I am still her friend!

One Comment
  1. Oh, beautiful. Thank you for sharing your loving wisdom.

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