The sun was out when I brought in the newspaper this morning. I don't remember it ever raining on Mothers' Day. We did the same things every year and I never remember dodging raindrops to follow the plan. I suppose we went to visit our grandparents, just as we did every single Sunday, but those memories aren't as well available as are our immediate family's routine. It was Mother's Day (where does that apostrophe belong, I wonder?) and that meant florist, bakery, breakfast on a tray and hugs in her bed. The memory makes me smile.
And now, 5 decades later, I am older than she was when those memories were created. She's living with strangers (nice strangers, but strangers nonetheless) and I have to drive to bring her flowers and watch her eat her breakfast in bed. She's reread her card twice since I've been here, and been surprised and delighted each time. When I apologized for forgetting her traditional gardenia corsage for the second year in a row, she was flummoxed. "Why would I care? Do I like gardenias? Did I used to like gardenias?" YES, I want to shout at her. The gardenia was the official indicator that this was a special day. You wore it everywhere we went and bragged to all viewers that your children loved you. How can that memory be lost, too?
But I didn't yell or scream. I reminded her of the corsage and the breakfast in bed and the prune danish that accompanied the french toast and OJ and coffee and her face lit up as she wondered aloud "Why do I remember the danish?" I don't know. I wish I did, but I don't.
The pod castle has chateaubriand and roasted potatoes and fancy homemade dessert pastries for lunch, but we're going for sushi with Amster and her family. That is, the plan is to join them. However, waking up this morning has been a challenge for G'ma and as I sit here typing just a bit before noon, she's finally finished breakfast and has moved to the shower. Though she was officially "awake" for her 9am pills, her body remained abed. When I arrived at 11am (after lifting weights with Amster and walking the treadmill with my new Alafair Burke mystery and watering my containers and folding laundry and cleaning the kitchen counters ..... ONE of us has had a productive morning) the comforter was wrapped around her like a kosher hot dog. Rolling over to see who was there to annoy her was an effort, but her smile when she saw my face behind the pink roses and the greeting card sent my exasperation with her sleepiness directly to the recycle bin. There's a certain twinkle in her eyes that sends me spinning back to elementary school. I know I've done something to make her happy and the joy just bounced back and forth between us.
I pulled my favorite of her blouses from her closet and paired it with tan pants. It usually is worn with navy pants, and her face as she examined the outfit was a study in what her life must be like these days. The clothes were familiar (she's not a "snappy dresser" and her wardrobe is modest) but the combination was surprising. She stood between the closet and the chair on which I had slipped the hangars. She stood there, touching the yellow polyester blouse and staring quizzically at those tan pants. Her eyes darted to the closet; yes, there were blue pants on the rack. "Do you like the tan pants? I thought it would be nice for a change." Her smile returned. She hadn't made a mistake; I had chosen the unusual combination. And if it made me happy then it would make her happy, too, because her whole life has been organized around the concept of putting a smile on my face. I don't know if my siblings would be able to type that last sentence, but I know that I can.
She's tired and wants to sleep and I'm worried that showering will exhaust her and lunch will never happen. Amster's crew has already left for the sushi place, and still I'm waiting to hear the water start to run in the shower. Lunch may happen today.... it might just be eaten around dinner time.
And here I am, back in my same predicament. We had an activity and she's sleeping through it. My plan had been to motivate her to participate in the world around her. Instead, I find myself accommodating her lengthening sleep patterns and carting her off to bed when I'd rather have her company at the market or the mall. I always offer a choice of things to do, and one of the choices is always go home to nap. Lately, that's been her selection. I wonder, as I always do, if it's a medically treatable symptom. I never get further than worrying, though, because to take action would involve a visit to the physician and who knows what he'll discover? At this point, we seem to do better when we ignore the little aches and pains; But is this a little ache or a symptom of a larger issue? The pod castle workers are all laughing with her over her need to nap, but I am watching my mommy melt into a couch.
I'm back to the advice I received from the Occupational Therapist when G'ma was recovering from her bilateral broken ankles. "Stop looking for the mom you used to know. She's gone. But this mom you have right now is pretty cool. Why don't you get to know her?"
I'm trying. I really really am trying.
For today, though, all I want to do is manage to have lunch.