Friday, May 15, 2009

A displaced person

It's been a very long day.  Started with the early morning activity upstairs at my sister's house, where the farmers get up before the dawn to eat a hearty breakfast, catch up on the news of the world (news they can actually see now that they've got a satelite dish! I get my best sleep usually about the time they're climbing into their big rigs and heading off to the fields (if it hasn't rained, anyway!). So I might have started out a little grumpy.  It's been known to happen--my grumpiness, that is.

Didn't improve much when I had climb about two stories into my niece's fiance's three-quarter ton, extended cab pick-up.  I'm barely able to step into a car, let alone pull myself up by my arms, with a mighty hop.  My nerve-damaged left leg immediately raised a protest, but I did what most administrators do, I ignored it!  Yet that inconvenience was only the beginning.  Niece and I walked into the nursing facility where mom is supposedly getting adequate nursing care (hence the name!), and there she was, wearing an untied hospital gown, uncovered by blankets, her legs turned and sliding off the bed, as though she'd been trying to get up, hair every-which-way-but-loose on her head, eyes closed, mouth dangling open.  And no sound coming from her.  SE gasped, and I had the same thought, "Is this it?" but when I touched her skin, expecting it to be cold and silent, she snorted and opened her eyes.  But this is what it will be like, I know.  Then, this afternoon, when we returned to see her--after lunch, clearing out her room at the Dementia unit, running to Good Will and storage--she was no where to be found.  She seemed to have vanished into the clear blue sky, and the longer we looked, engaging the staff as well, the more the panic rose in us.  The duty nurse finally said, "Start over, look in every room, every bathroom."  And that's when I found her, closed into a bathroom of a vacant room, hands gloved, opening 'wet-wipes.'  I'm guessing why, but didn't investigate any closer.  As a reward for having misplaced herself, she's now sporting an orange ankle bracelet with an alarm on it.  If they can't find her, they simply press a button on the main desk, and follow the sound.  My niece said, "That's quite a treat, Grammacy.  Just you and the juvies get to wear those."

Every day brings a little more change.  Yesterday my sister and I were surprised that she could name every color in her bed throw (striped red, blue and beige), could point to that person when we told them her name,  but today, she didn't even know what the word color means, and simply stared when we told her our names.  Then she gave my nieces new names that might become a part of family lore.  The older one, SE, is now Porsa (I think it's like purse with an a at the end), and her younger taller sister, L, is snicky.  Oh my, how we laughed.  And laughed and laughed.  And my mother smiled at us.  She somehow knew she was making us laugh, but didn't understand why.  No, what my mother does now is fold.  She's fixated on folding--her sheets under which she lies, the clothes that she's still wearing, and random pieces of pillow cases, sheets, towels that she can get her hands on.  She just loves to fold.  And it's a very strange thing considering she never liked it in her right mind.  Mostly, as we grew up, clothes were dumped on our beds, with the strict order to get them done.  But now, this is the one thing she knows how to do that she can still do...and she likes it.

So I go home tomorrow, knowing that as fractured as she is, how broken her body is, she's all in one piece, all in one place.  And she didn't even cry when we told her it was time for us to leave.  I think it's gone as well as can be expected.  And I'm so exhausted, I'm definitely ready to go home.

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