It started the day before Christmas Eve early in the afternoon after driving four hours we stopped at the nursing home to prepare Mom for our excursion the next day. Carrying her Christmas present we walked into her room her roommate seeing us first. Laying my hand on her shoulder I spoke, Mom, its Jo. She finally recognizes me and as always her voice went up three octaves’s as she said what she always does, "well Jo I didn't know you were coming"! God has so blessed my Mom with a sweetheart of a roommate who usually leaves so we can a little private time.
I laid the stuffed package in Mom's lap as we kissed, hugged and she begin to retell us things she had told us a few weeks ago and would retell many times that day. All the time she is handling the wrapped package....in-between the retells her lips begin to tremble as she added, I don't have any money to buy you something, you shouldn't have, you need your money. Telling her it's ok, she does not have to give us anything, it's our turn to give to her, we understand, (but we don't really for we have not come to the place my Mom has YET.)
I am anxious for her to unwrap the present, wanting to see her delight at receiving what I picked out for her, all her favorite color, pink. Of course she says she likes it all and I proceed to tell her we are going to take her out the next day to Wal-Mart and out to eat. She completely breaks down...apologies for her tears...she says I don't know what’s wrong with me, I can't quit crying. My husband and I are both in tears ( tears flow again as I type this). No, she says, I need to stop crying, this broke our hearts even more and I hugged her and said Mom, tears are ok, they are a release, good for us. Finally she chuckles a little and agreed. After enjoying a little more time with her we left and as we drove to my sister in laws it was me who broke down. My husband just laid his hand on my shoulder wishing he could fix this but knowing full well he cannot. (more tears)
At 10 am the next day, Christmas Eve we picked Mom up and took her to Wal-mart, buying her every little thing she had told me to put on the list I wrote down for her. Vaseline, hand lotion, eye brow tweezers, nail clippers, band aids, little things that were either already in her nursing home drawer or they readily would give her. Only things she did not really have and best part, a small bag of chocolate Kisses...a big one cost too much she said, besides she was not supplying them for everyone who came in her room. (J) To choose those items herself, actually to JUST BE in a Wal-mart was the best Christmas present we could give Mom.
Lunch at Wendy's with hopes she would see people she knew like she did at Walmart. As we drove around afterwards my husband ask Mom, "Mildred how far away from here did you travel growing up"? She named a town about 30 miles away...not far. He reminded her of how later in her life we took her to the Grand Canyon, down to the Ozarks, lots of trips with her son and daughter in law to hear a good country singer, a trip to Vegas with a friend...good memories. I knew he wanted the day to end with those good memories since her future days would be spent in the nursing home till God calls her HOME. Knowing she was getting tired we ended the day. As I helped her unpack her Wal-mart bags and did some things for her she was a lot more in control by the time I left.
Disease and age has brought my mother to the place of depending on others to do the simple daily things she did for herself for so long. Since most of the time she is totally aware of "where' she is she must keep her emotions in check. The nurses tell us she participates in more activities then most residents. Mom says it helps in the acceptance of having to allow others to take care of her.
I write a lot about courage, see it often in so many women I meet, pray for it daily. Today on this Christmas Eve I received a blessing from being in the presence of a courageous wise hearted woman, my mother.