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“Last night and the shoes”
My father said he was looking everywhere; my mother only had one shoe. I sheepishly told him I had taken her broken shoe to be repaired.
He glared at me. “Why didn’t you tell me? I’ve been turning this place upside down looking for it everywhere!”
Then he pointed to a sign on the wall. The sign said, “It is okay for Shirley Goodman to leave her shoes on her feet at night.”
I had no idea she loved those shoes that much. Later on, I planned to pick up her shoe with the Velcro repaired. Now she could wear it while sleeping tonight!
I was there again early when she opened her eyes. This was a good routine. Morning was an excellent time to visit with her and have special moments together.
She told me she had not had a good night because her coughing kept her awake. I knew exactly what she wanted. It was simple. She wanted her cough syrup given at regular intervals without having to ask for it. I made a mental note that I would find out about that.
My mother looked weak, thin, and very tired. She certainly was coughing a lot. I wondered whether I could convince a doctor to give her an antibiotic. The irony didn’t escape me. Every doctor’s felt I was hastening my mother’s death by refusing what was deemed life-saving surgery. Now that I signed her up for Hospice, how could I request an antibiotic?
I didn’t care if anyone felt it was foolish. It would be what my mother wanted for now!
My mom had immunity issues. For as long as I could remember, she had been prescribed antibiotics constantly to help her battle infections. Here she was at 86 and she had survived so many bouts of pneumonia!
My head spun into the thought that my initial premonition of her dying from pneumonia was now coming true. If this was where it was heading, I still hadn’t changed my mind about the surgery. She would have gotten this anyway after the surgery – I felt certain!
I remembered when she ended up on the respirator; she had a cough that quickly turned worse. Since those thoughts were not “helpful,” I decided to focus on something else to feel better.
I watched my mom as she enjoyed her breakfast, even though there were many moments when she didn’t make sense.
It was a very special moment when reminded her of a song I used to sing to her.
I wrote a song for my mother when I was six years old!
It turns out I was a younger songwriter than I thought. It’s almost embarrassing to write this, but here are the lyrics:
“Mommy is the best one in the whole world, best one, best one in the whole world. I love her, I love her; she is the best one in the whole world!“
Her caregiver, Miriam arrived. She washed my mom’s face and brushed her teeth. Once again, Miriam’s love and gentleness with my mother made me grateful beyond belief!
Miriam said to me, “Let me introduce you to the lady I told you about across the hall.”
And so it was that I met Sara. Sara told me she was ninety-eight-years old. She wanted me to record her words so I could share her message with my mother. She spoke loudly and said:
“Shirley, I want to tell you that I have two, broken hips! And they will not operate because I am too old. But I’m walking! I’m walking with a walker and sometimes I am walking by myself. And with a little patience I am sure that you are going to walk also. And we’re all rooting for you!”
Below is a link to this video at the site my oldest son created for his grandma on Facebook:
There was a sweet woman sitting next to Sara. She said she was a volunteer and her name was Lori. Lori told me that Sara was very exhilarated to have company. It was such a thrill for her that she was quivering in her bed from the excitement.
Sara was thrilled when I asked her if Lori could take a picture of her with me.
I decided to mention that I loved music and was a singer/songwriter. In fact, I asked Sara if she’d like to listen to music on my mother’s iPod. I went next door to my mother’s room and brought it to her.
I put on my wedding song, “Together.” Sara’s face glowed brighter than a light bulb. She said, “Where can I buy this?”
I told her, “It’s yours! Borrow it anytime and you can share it with my mother.”
My mom looked less tired now as I kissed her goodbye. I would come back later in the evening. I needed to go to Costco and then I would write.
I wondered how the rest of the day might go for my mother.
I was writing this when I received a text message from her caregiver:
Judy, guess what? We put her in a wheelchair without pain and we are in the dining room. She’ll get lunch here with everybody. She’s really happy because it seems like nothing happened. I’m happy too!!!!
When I arrived in the evening, her cough was better and she was peacefully smiling when I came in.
My mother ended up having a fairly pain-free and productive day. I had made calls concerning her cough. Although I hadn’t heard about antibiotics, she received a breathing treatment.
It was almost bedtime. I showed my mom her shoe that I had repaired. She beamed with delight, however, my father only showed irritation. He said, “Trust me, she doesn’t need shoes – she’s not getting up to use the bathroom anymore!”
I ignored him.
I read my mom a few cards and stroked her hair. She was ready for bed. I told her I’d be there for her when she woke up in the morning.
I went across the hall to see Sara and to retrieve my mom’s iPod. I planned to take it home to charge it for her. Sara was very alert. She said, “I loved listening to your music so much! Thank you – I can’t wait to listen again tomorrow!”
Her smile was radiant, and I was impressed how she had managed to understand turning it off to save the battery!
My only worry today was when my mom’s caregiver, Miriam, told me my mom was up to her “old tricks” again. When Miriam left to get a cup of coffee, she came back to find my mom trying to get out of bed with one foot on the floor.
An alarm is not enough to prevent a fall. There are huge issues regarding restraints at her facility. Miriam said the most dangerous place of all for my mom was her new wheelchair. It turns out her new wheelchair does not have a seatbelt.
I spoke to the nursing supervisor before leaving tonight. She told me that in order to have a seatbelt, I would need to get a prescription from a doctor. I was amazed about that. I added it to my list of calls for tomorrow.
I was reassured that my mom would be frequently checked on at night and cushions would be placed around her bed.
I tried to be patient and not push my doddering father along as he constantly stopped to do things on the way to my car.
I dropped him off to the shared home where he lived, which was part of the same facility as my mom. It was only ½ block away from where she was, but my father hated walking.
He lingered at my car. He said, “I’ve decided there is one reason I really want to live. There is something I really want to see.”
I asked him what it was. He told me. He wanted to see my oldest son graduate from college. This was what I told my father:
“Dad, I would love for you to live long enough to see my other, two children graduate also. There are miracles that you’ve witnessed and more every single day. You only have to look for them!”
It had been a long time since I had heard my father look forward to anything!
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.