The Courage to Visit

Many of you have requested that I update you on my mother and her progress since her surgery. Unfortunately, she has regressed back to the condition before the surgery. She is sleeping most of the day, talking very little and extremely confused.

It felt so good when she was happy and talking in the hospital. She was having conversations, laughing, recognizing her children and seeming her old self. I held onto that vision and as I heard she was slipping back to her deteriorated state I couldn’t not bring myself to go and visit her. One week, two, three, then four weeks and finally after seven weeks I worked up the courage to go and see her. My daughter went with me as a motivator to make sure I completed the visit. We bought her favorites, carrot cake, chocolate mousse and pumpkin pie, to bribe her. Mom has started to lose weight again so it is not about healthy eating but about calories and weight gain at this point. So ironic a family and who has been obsessed with losing weight their whole lives is now worried about gaining weight. Be careful what you pray for.

When we entered the Aegis community I put on my happy face as staff greeted me. Mom looked good, her hair done and make-up on, this would be so important to her. She was sitting in the lobby, listening to entertainment, but she was listening with her eyes closed.

We wheeled her off to the activities room to have some quiet time. My daughter said, “Gram we brought you some carrot cake, yours and Dad’s favorite.” There is a running joke in my family. My mom bought me carrot cake for my high school graduation, only problem is I hate carrot cake. When I told her, “mom you know I hate carrot cake,” she responded, “ButI love it.” That was mom.

We tried to carry on a conversation but mom just had a blank stare, processing us as if to find the file that matched our faces to the memory. We asked her questions, hoping, praying for some type of response. The best we got was a shake of the head and an “uh ha.” To our delight she gobbled up the carrot cake and my feeding her was not fast enough, she pulled off chunks of the cream cheese frosting and popped them in her mouth.

When she would come to a piece of carrot or a nut that she didn’t like she would spit it out on the floor, like a farmer with a wad of chewing tobacco. This is so not my mom, an English woman with a proud background, manners were always so important. But in a way, there is innocence with this disease. No pretense, no political correctness, you are who you are, not who you are supposed to be.

We talked and tried to make mom laugh. The simple things you yearn for when you don’t have them anymore. My daughter got engaged two weeks ago and she said to me, “Dad, one thing that I am most sad about is that I couldn’t call and share the moment with Gram.” The pain of those words shot through me as I thought my tears were going to flow. As I fought back my emotions, I realized how many things this disease steals from people, the essence of life and joy.

Mom polished off her carrot cake and some of the other desserts. We wheeled her in for dinner. As we were leaving, I bent down and kissed her and told her, “I love you.” “I Love You,” she said, clear as day.

Some things this disease can’t steal.

One Comment

  1. Susanna
    Posted November 25, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    It's wonderful to read your heart warming accounts with mom. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving. Congrats to Ashley on her engagement! How wonderful.

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