I was able to visit Mom a little while ago. Because of Covid, we had to wear masks and keep some distance. But I think that is understandable in a time such as this. She’s not the only one living there and each of the residents need care. Mom is ninety years old and struggles with memory and even recognition at times.The in-person visits can be a bit uneven for her. But that’s okay.These days, it’s almost better when I call her on the phone. She immediately knows my voice and we have a delightful one minute or so conversation. I’ve learned those two kinds of visits are very different. One is just audio and the other more visual.
Sometimes I can see her struggle with what to talk about during an in-person visit. Unless of course I happen to stumble across the word trombone or the number 76…..then off she goes with her wayward rendition of 76 Trombones. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t try to sneak the word trombone into a conversation? She truly seems to delight in what triggers her memory. What fun to lob something in there and watch what she takes a swing at. More often than not, Mom responds with a song or bawdy limerick. You might think it a tad unsettling to hear your ninety year old mother get risque with her stories. Nah,it’s just damn funny. Those auditory clues transport her to another place in time. For a moment, she’s the one who gets to open the archives. All on her own.
When we are there, yes, she knows I’m her son or Debbie her daughter. When it gets beyond that and grandchildren, things get a little fuzzy. Has she forgotten her family? No, not at all. In that last visit, I saw something in the way Mom relates to the staff at Bethany Village.It was simply this. She has another family. The ones that take care of her daily needs. Looking after what she is eating and if she has stashed away twenty seven apples in her room. Helping with personal needs and listening to stories over and over. Am I sad that she considers them family? Why would I be? It’s a marvelous feeling to know that someone is caring for my mother every day. It reminds me of when my own adult children entered into a relationship and moved out on their own. Do their partners love them more than me? I hope so. I think it’s wonderful that they do. I know how much I love my sons, if someone loves and understands them more than I do? Well YAHOO!
The same is true for my mother these days. There are people who are loving and caring for her, way better than I ever could right now. None of that takes anything away from me.In fact it is adding to my understanding of how life goes. I for one am grateful that Mom still has a family that loves her. It might be different than the one she helped raise, but now they are part of ours. They always will be. She has another family and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Jeff Raught - December 2020