I entered room 25C with a single yellow rosebud in one hand and my lime purse in the other bearing the SF Chronicle Sunday paper and a small Tupperware with two brown-butter chocolate chip cookies.
Mom was half sitting up, trying to get out of bed to take the step to the portable commode, but she couldn’t get up. I raised the head of the bed and lowered the foot and Velcro-ed on her brace and boot and went to find help. First two minutes into the visit.
The nurse at the station explained that many of the staff stayed home for Mothers’ Day and that she’d told D that she had a diaper and would be fine. I don’t think mom can tell when she has a diaper or not. The nurse found a helper anyway and they came to lift her to the poddy and change her. Meanwhile, I fixed the sheet and cotton blanket to lessen the foot pressure. Both legs are bandaged and bruised. I thanked the two women and wished them a happy mothers’ day. I put D’s hearing aids on the charger, so they’d be available in the morning. I brushed her hair back and she almost purred.
Sliding the table with her lunch tray over the bed, I raised the lid on the steam plate. I spoke with gestures and Mom talked as if I heard her. At first, she looked overwhelmed by the food, but then I offered her a bite of the dressing in gravy and she took it gratefully. After two bites, I turned over the fork to her.
She asked where I’d been and I pantomimed I can’t speak because you-can’t-hear-me for probably the fourth time, smiled at her and just sat, being with her. I poked the single yellow rose into the vase with sweet peas I brought the other day. I opened the sliding glass door for some welcome fresh air. And so, Mom chatted about things, sometimes odd and other times familiar. Then to be social, she’d ask me a general question, and I’d do the you-can’t-hear-me- thing and smile and scoot my wheelchair seat up closer to her. My birth mother’s body and mind are slipping, but she has the same light of the mother of creation we all have. We sat and sometimes smiled.
She didn’t care for the thick slice of somewhat dry white meat chicken, so I realized I should dine with her, having had no lunch. This little communal ritual moved her to eat more with some pleasure. She talked about Gary and asked if he was doing better. She’d been worried that he might have the same thing that his mom got. She talked about something they did as if it were yesterday.
D. explained some construction that may not have occurred earlier this morning, pointing toward the ceiling corner over the sliding glass door, but there was little logic or syntax to her words. I nodded at their plans for more, so she seemed satisfied. A few bites later, she said she watched two birds in the roof gutter and explained that their nest hadn’t worked so they were rebuilding it elsewhere. I smiled and nodded. I could be stricken by her condition, but I was at peace. This is just what it is.
She complimented me on my “Indian” shoes, slip-ons that have a beaded pattern on the front. Her womanly personality noted my green purse and seemed pleased I was dressed up. I’d been to Sunday morning service before our visit. I reflect on how many days she’s seen me in garden grubbies or sleep sweats.
The nurse came back and said something kind to D. Although she couldn’t hear the nurse, she saw the smile and bright eyes over the mask. Message read.
I separated the sections of the newspaper for ease of handling, raised her head and turned on a wall light, placing the funnies on the tray table. I took the lunch tray out on a long walk to the kitchen. When I returned, D was napping lightly, and started when I touched her hand. I kissed her forehead goodbye and waved permission to sleep more. Closed the sliding door almost all the way, and drew the curtains halfway. There was no laundry to take home today, because they’ve been putting her in a hospital gown.
I think she knows I love her.
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