As an author who values words and tries not to touch a cliché with a ten foot pole, I was hesitant to use the title “One Day At A Time” for this post. Unfortunately, it fits the situation very well. What I have experienced with my mother in her mild and slow decline is that there are days when we have a delightful discussion about things at hand. We talk about the squirrels on the trees, trying to answer the question “What is the butterfly bush’s attraction,” and so on.
There are other days when I am not sure she fully knows who I am. She identifies me as family, mostly, but is not at all clear on how I fit into her family picture. Her lack of being able to place herself in the moment, historically, is difficult for me to view. Most days she is not truly aware that she is in a nursing home, which is four hours away from where she lived the vast majority of her life. That is hard to watch.
But she knows me; however she is defining “know.” She always smiles when I arrive and calls me by name. “Mark, I heard that you might be joining me today. How nice.” Her smile is reminiscent of the smile I recall from childhood. I hold her hand, much as she held mine on the way to first grade, walking up Kennedy Drive. And she is happy for those few moments. And so am I.
Love you mom. See you Thursday for lunch. . .