Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Riding with Mom

The month of March has been extremely emotional for me for a number of reasons.  One thing that has been a challenge has been witnessing my mother's apparent loneliness, and then, just this past Friday trying to be uplifting and supportive as she, as she occasionally does, actually verbalized her feelings and expressed a true concern about her situation in life.  (For those readers who don't know, my mother has been in assisted living since June of 2004 after a devastating fall, and has lost her ability to walk -for the most part - in the past year.)  I've been very torn up and concerned trying to figure out what I can do that I'm not already doing to try to improve her situation.  I left her on Friday promising to pick her up for a ride out the next day, which was to be a warm, sunny 70+ degrees.  (My mother won't come out in the cold.)

We got a later start than I'd hoped for, due to my morning WAR with my allergies, but finally after lunch I picked my mom up and off we went.  She did a good job of getting into the car for me, which was a good sign.  Before we left the parking lot of her facility, I put on her make-up and jewelry to get her looking like Mary Anne, and we plotted out our afternoon ride.

 Our first stop would be in Hampton, at my mother's home (which she still owns and I take care of).  She sat in the car while I went in to check the house and get the mail.  When I came out, I noticed her neighbor sitting on her screened-in back porch.  She hadn't realized my mom was with me, but when I told her, she came right over to chat with her.  God is so good!  This is just what my mother needed - a few minutes with an old friend - her neighbor of 46 years.  I invited Mrs. Cappe to perch on the door-sill beside my mother, and sat by patiently while the two friends got caught up with each other, and Mrs. Cappe filled my mother in on the health of another previous neighbor.  This little visit, though brief, did my mother a world of good, and served to continue the job of lifting her spirits, which the ride, the sunshine, and I had already begun.  As an almost-afterthought, I decided to snap the two ladies' picture with my cell-phone just before we left.  It's a dark shot, but still I'm glad I was able to capture the moment.

That's my mom on the right, talking to her neighbor , Mrs. Cappe, as they sat in the car under our carport.

From here, we took a ride just a mile or so away, to the home of a dear friend and former co-worker of mine.  I'd called to tell her that we were in the area, and wanted her to meet my mom, since she never had and she hears me talk about her all the time.  The meeting was quick, but went well. :)  Next stop - McDonald's to get the required Coca-Cola (I don't know how to make the brand-sign) which my mother requests whenever we go out.  Then, it was onto to the interstate and off to Norfolk, where she was born and raised.

Our first stop on the south side was to Calvary Cemetery, the burial ground of my mother's mother and her paternal grandparents.  I wanted to show her that there was no headstone or marker for them, a discovery I'd made when I first visited in January.  She insists that there should have been a marker-plate for her mother, who died in 1986, and her brother has told me the same thing.  Luckily, the plot is right by the side of the road, so my mother was able to see for herself that there was nothing there but grass.  We drove around the cemetery a bit, looking at some of the surnames and unique graves (many of which I photographed on my last visit and have already uploaded to Find-A-Grave).  Next, it was off to my mother's childhood home, which she also owns, and I also now take care of.

Again, Mom waited in the car while I did my walk-through of the now-vacant property, which is adjacent to ODU's campus.  When I returned to the car, she reminisced a bit and commented on how the neighborhood was changing.  We talked about the need to get new tenants or sell soon, noticed the completion of the new recreation center in the next block, and headed out of the neighborhood for the 45 minute drive back to her facility in Newport News.

All in all this was a great day with and for my mom.  It saddens my heart that she, once such a vibrant and active member of the community, is now so physically confined by her failing body that she can't get out and about anymore, but I'm ever-so-glad that Spring has come, so that I can at least take her out on the weekends now.

On Tuesday, my mother will celebrate her 76th birthday.  Yes, I said 76.  The debilitating condition which has robbed her of her bodily control and ability to balance began to torment my mother eleven years ago, when she was only 65.  I'm thankful that she still has her mind (although there are times when she is extremely sleepy and you might not believe it) and that she knows all of her family members and what is going on around her.  This can be a mixed blessing though, because this means that she is well-aware of how seldom anyone else visits her, except for my daughters and me, but still it is a blessing.  Mom has asked me to make a yellow cake with lemon icing for her birthday, and she wants vanilla ice-cream, so that's what we'll be having to celebrate.  Oh, and if you're wondering what we'll be drinking... well, in this family, COKE is always IT!