It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m sitting in my mother’s room at the hospital. Her roommate’s daughter has gone home for the day. The room is quiet except for the occasional snoring of Miss Edna the roommate. Mom’s name is Edna, too. It was apparently a popular name back in the early 1900s. Mom has never liked it but she accepted it as her lot in life. She had to accept hardships much worse than her name over the years.
She is in extended care which, the best I can tell, is the last step before the nursing facility, which entails a quick move upstairs to the second floor. Before the move the physical therapists are working with her twice a day to make her stronger. Some days she participates enthusiastically; others she tells them she doesn’t want to go, she’s too tired. Her emotions have run the gamut from anger to sadness to reluctant acceptance since she came here about two weeks ago.
Today she’s calm. On days like this she wants me to pull my chair up close so she can hold my hand. In fact she wants to hold both my hands with both of hers. She rolls on her side facing me. I get as comfortable as I can and we soothe each other. There is little conversation between us. Little is needed.
It’s sweet that she thinks of my comfort. She says to me, “Are you uncomfortable, Honey? I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.” I reassure her, “I’m fine, Mom.” And because of her increasing dementia she asks the same question five minutes later. I lie to her again.
In a while she tells me, “Patty, I appreciate your taking care of me.” I say, “I’m glad to do it, Momma. You took care of me for a lot of years.” As the tears roll down both our faces, she adds, “I wish I still could.”
We remain silent then until she starts to doze. I kiss her cheek and whisper, “I love you, Mom,” as I take my leave for the night.
Mom died less than a year later on August 13, 2009.