She stares at the food- begins to pick at the turkey breast and mashed potatoes.
Never touching the waxed beans.
She begins to gently mix a packet of cocoa into the brown plastic mug that holds the hot water- slowly she mixes the cocoa- even slower she sips the cocoa.
She looks tired. She looks lost, maybe even lonely. Her small features are hidden by a stylish wig that covers her head that once held a mass of strawberry blonde hair.
Fingernails that were once manicured to perfection on her petite hands are now nails that are kept clipped- squared off just at the tips of her fingers.
As I stand in the doorway of her room watching- I can see her wearing a black slim pencil skirt with matching captivator pumps. I see her wavy strawberry blonde hair perfectly in place. I see those pretty soft pink nails manicured just right- not too long, but long enough to display elegance.
I can smell the perfume she would splash on right before she would walk out the door.
I close my eyes and return to the here and now.
As I walked over to her chair- carefully not to surprise her- she looked up and smiled.
What are you doing here I'm asked.
I just wanted to spend some alone time with you- Mom.
She smiles and tries to say something. After a few moments of nothing- she begins to pick at the cake sitting on her food tray.
I tease by insisting she eat those waxed beans that look so delicious!
There it is- that small turned up nose I so remember when she would disagree. Shaking her head no- she whispers to me as if the head cook of her nursing facility would overhear and march into the room- this food is horrible!!
Giggles fill her eyes with tears. Mine too.
During my 45 minute visit I'm never asked where are my kids. I'm never asked about my husband or even if I have seen my father lately.
I am asked about the pretty teacup charm bracelet I am wearing and that she likes my hair longer.
Sadly this visit is cut short today.
I once struggled watching my mother stumble on her words. Trying to communicate with me, or any of our family members.
Today I listened. I laughed. We laughed.
Today I felt mature. I felt secure. I felt reassured.
Today for the first time my alone time with my mother was pleasant. My selfishness of wanting the mother I remembered was not present. I was allowing myself to talk as if there was no dementia controlling her mind. Could she answer me fully- no. Did she understand what I was talking about during our conversations- yes.
I knew it. I could see it in her pretty green smiling eyes.
I collected my keys off of her nightstand- and as I leaned into kiss her soft cheek and tell her I love her- I hear this very clear voice- no cracking, no hesitation, no stumbling on words say-
when are you coming back?
Soon mommy, soon!
As I drove about a half mile down the road to my fathers house (my parents home) where the girls were spending time with their Pop Pop, rain was pounding the road.
I made a mad dash into the house. No one knew I was there- all I can hear is laughter.
Once again I stand in a doorway. This time it's a guest room in a nice home. The home I entered Public School in. The home I became Sweet 16 in. The home that my mother decorated in French Provincial. The home that was once filled with holidays and aromas of Gloria Jeans vanilla coffee. I'm watching my 84 year old father sit on the floor having a tea party with Apple Cheeks. China Doll is stretched out on the guest bed working on the satellite control for the guest room tv my father failed to hook up after 6 months. laughing
This is a different visit. One that is filled with a little chaos and a lot of snacks.
Silliness and games. Spending money for China Doll & Freckle Boy and Piggy Bank money for Apple Cheeks.
For me.....I received a different kind of gift. And I can't wait for my next visit as I had promised my mother.
Life Lesson: Values.