She wears black slacks with a tiny white flower motif and a rose three-quarter sleeve top. The shoes on her feet glisten with rhinestone and an array of beaded bracelets on her arm rattle as she gestures while she talks.
“I’m ninety-one-and-a-half, you know.”
“I know Mom. It’s impressive.”
She smiles and nods.
Ric is in town on business, and so I have opted to spend the day with Mom at the nursing home. Her room is small, but cosy. I lie on the bed, while Mom relaxes in her lazy-boy chair.
“I never lie down during the day,” she reassures me when I offer to move. “You rest.”
I show her pictures from the trip and we talk and talk, both of us tiring, and despite the fact we acknowledge our need to rest, neither of us can stop the flow of conversation.
At lunchtime, I push her down to the cafe on the main floor of her building, and she is childlike in her lack of decisiveness, touching all the bottles of pop and unable to decide, reading all the food packages before settling on a soup and veggies with dip. All the while she apologizing for taking so long.
We find a table and linger over lunch. Afterwards, I get a tea, and we go outside, into the garden area and I push her around to see the flowers, but now my body is complaining, so we return to her room on the fourth floor and resume our former positions.
Ric arrives to pick me up and she is just as glad to see him as she was me. By the time we leave, I am so tired, I can barely stay awake in the car home.
The next day, we are up at Mom’s again to sit in on her annual meeting with her care team. Mom is hard of hearing, and forgets, so she wanted someone with her, to make sure her concerns are answered.
She wants to talk about end of life care. She doesn’t want to suffer, nor does she want to linger on like the man in the next room to her did recently. The doctor and nurse write it all down.
The doctor is soft-spoken, and Mom can’t hear him, so he explains it all to Ric, how they will put in a butterfly on her arm and administer more morphine (she is already on morphine for spinal stenosis) and add another if need be.
Mom is satisfied. She complains that her spine sticks out too much and makes her uncomfortable.
I have to smile. Mom has been bent over for some time, and lost so much weight, the problem is inevitable.
At the end she says:
“Well, I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, anyway.”
We leave after the medical team, and have one more relative to visit before I can get home and collapse.
We haven’t been home a week and already I am exhausted beyond anything I’ve felt these past six months.
Finding a balance is ever a problem.