G'ma and I went out for ice cream last week. There were new glasses to be picked up from Dr. Le and hibiscus to be purchased at Rillito and the weather was down to double digits. The timing was right.
I arrived at the pod-castle while the residents were finishing up their desserts. Hot coffee and fresh baked cake; my mom could have been sitting at a diner, sharing a meal with friends. But, the facts are that these friends replay the same conversations over and over again and she has no idea what their names might be or how she came to be sitting at the table with them.... and, the most important fact, she doesn't seem to mind.
"Who are they? Who knows?! They're pleasant company.... at least I don't remember them being unpleasant." Such is the wonderfulness that is my maternal unit.
She greeted me by name. From then on, everything else was gravy, sauce on the sundae, the cherry on top. The married couple wanted to know where I was going and why. The lady G'ma sometimes recognizes as someone she's seen before complimented my necklace. I rambled on about gardening and the up-coming wedding and we all took a moment to notice that the giant clock on the wall of the dining room was, for the first time in several years, actually telling the correct time. It was no longer perpetually 2:20.
I kept to myself the narrative arc which wondered why an environment which served a confused clientele would leave a confusing landmark in place. I figure that since this is the major complaint I have about my mother's care I am pretty lucky and should just keep this one to myself.
Coffee finished, we said our goodbyes, promised to be back for her 2 o'clock pill. "And if I'm late, what will happen? Will I keel over at 2:01?" She may be forgetful, but she's still the woman I used to know as Mommy.... at least every once in a while.
Yes, we get our eye care at Wally-World and I couldn't be happier. Dr. Le hugged me from behind as I stood atop G'ma and her new eyeware. The doctor tossed a little grief our way, wondering why it had taken us three weeks to pick up the new, slightly stronger, pair. G'ma liked her new, smaller pair of specs, though the right side seemed "unbalanced.... kind of smoky."
I knew that was the glaucoma which Dr. Le had found for the first time last month. With a somewhat stronger prescription, the world looked clearer to her... except where it was not. There's a surgical correction, of course, but we're not fooling around with anesthesia and a nearly 90 year old woman any more. By the end of the day, she'd forgotten to mention it, anyway. It will become her new reality and as long as she can see my face and the television there's no need to worry.... at least that's what the doctor and I decided, with her agreement. Her "NO surgery! I can see just fine!" was dispositive as far as we are concerned.
We strolled the aisles and bought toothpaste and denture cream and candy bars, all to her preference. Some things you just don't forget, it seems... things like Colgate not Crest and Baby Ruth's not Pay Day bars. Loaded up the car, chocolate in the cold pack, and drove through the drive-through at Dairy Queen.
A strawberry milkshake makes a perfect lunch for me. Fruit and calcium... mmmmmmmmm. G'ma, of course, (chime in here, grandchildren), had chocolate in a cup with chocolate sauce... as always. $5.01 in cash and we were outta there, parked under the only scrap of shade I could find in the parking lot, facing the busy main street. We had the a/c running and our seats practically shaded and we watched the cars go by, slurping and spooning in total contentment.
She's a slow eater of ice cream, my mother. She's deliberate and precise and she doesn't like it when drips occur. There's a method to her madness.... always has been.... always will be... and I love it. We were each absorbed in the moment, with no need to talk.
" This, I think, is what they call a 'companionable silence'," I said.
"Yes, it is," she said and she smiled and she put another carefully assembled spoonful into her mouth and I smiled at her clacking dentures and her frozen chocolate tongue and at the fact of her sitting there next to me and, right then and there, we knew that life was good.