I have made it a date each week to visit with my mother after church on Sundays. It is not the only day I go, but it is a constant for both of us. The service helps center me of late, and I am able to approach the situation at the nursing home in a better frame of mind. At times my feet are heavy as I climb the stairs to her third floor room. Too frequently it takes a conscious effort to press the access button to enter the floor, knowing my senses will be assailed with the sights, sounds, and sadly, odors of the old and infirm. It is heart wrenching, and I am human. There are days I find I just can't do it.
Today, however, I filled my lungs with fresh air, and burst through the doors... smile on my face... and greeted the many residents I passed. I was rewarded with returned smiles and brief comments. Some may even have recognized me from my many visits. The truly sad thing is that, for some, I may be one of the few non-staff that they see and have contact with on any given day. God Bless the volunteers who visit, who read to them, or sing like my friend Barbara. It is not only the aged residents who are blessed by these people, but the families as well. To know that on those days that emotionally or logistically it is impossible to visit, others have stepped up and filled the gap, giving myself and the other families a day without guilt. A day knowing someone else cares. A day to regroup and find a new way to deal with the grief and heartache, so that the next time I can open that door and step through once again.
Mom has taken to closing her eyes in my presence a great deal in the past few months. I believe she retreats from emotion, hiding from her own pain and confusion. I know this because I have never known my mom as well as I do now. This month is her 5 year anniversary at the nursing home. It is also OUR anniversary, when mother became child and child became mother. We have bonded in a totally new and unique way, and I now understand her on a level no one else does. When her eyes close and a tear runs from beneath her closed lids, I know her pain, and let her retreat to sleep, where I pray to God her dreams are clear and vital, and where she walks and speaks and knows she is loved. It was a sleepy Sunday today, so Lord hear my prayer.
On a lighter note, it is also Super Sunday, the day of the clash between AFC and NFC in the big bowl game. Since my love of the Eagles was as much a birthright as my maiden name, their loss in the playoffs means I am not totally invested in the outcome of tonight's game. In Pennsylvania it is impossible to be BOTH an Eagles fan and a Steelers fan. So, let's go Packers!
A warm country hug to all,