ER (google images)
“Oh no, not her,” Mom said when Jessie was wheeled to the table for dinner.
“What’s wrong, Mom?”
“I can’t stand her,” she said, twisting her face.
Miss D, who was assisting Jessie with her meal, said, “But she likes you, Kathy.”
Jessie smiled at me, then at Mom. We sat a square 4-person table. Jessie and I sat on opposite sides, and Mom to her left.
Jessie, Mom and Gisele have shared a table since Mom moved into the Actors Home in September, 2014. They always seemed to get along. I haven’t seen Gisele in a while—maybe she was moved to another ward or went to another home. Gisele said Mom was her best friend. Mom fawned over Gisele, frail and gentle, and told her, “You have to eat something,” one time at lunch when she was fussing with her food.
Gisele said to me, “Tell me what to do.”
I helped cut her food and spoon it into her mouth, but she spit it out. She did that with everything on her plate. She only ate the chocolate pudding, juice and milk.
She’d eat a few bites, spit them out, and again say, “Tell me what to do.”
Maybe Mom missed Gisele.
Jessie smiled at Mom.
“Oh, you pest! I hate your simpy smile, you simp,” Mom said.
“Mom, don’t look at her.”
“But she won’t stop looking at me.”
“You don’t have to look at her. Look at the wall, or at me.”
Mom made a face like a little kid at Jessie, still smiling at her.
“Why did you bring me here?” Mom said.
Miss D frowned.
Mom put down her utensils.
“Have you had enough to eat?”
“Yes, I want to go now.”
“But you didn’t eat your soup or your brownie.”
“I don’t like brownies,” she said.
“But I might want it. We’ll take your coffee too.”
“I want to watch TV in the room,” she said.
“Yes,” and her face instantly brightened.
I had arrived late and it threw off our routine, which included watching an episode or two of ER on DVD. We were on season 2, disk 4.
I turned on the DVD and inserted the disk. She looked calmer already; it seemed to ground her.
“We’re on season 2, disk 4, Mom.”
“Yeah,” she said, smiling.
At the end of the episode, she said, “But what about the credits?”
“They showed the credits at the beginning of the program, Mom.”
Then I brought her the mini spiral notebook she keeps at her bedside table.
I pointed to the names, “MARK GREENE, NOAH WYLE.”
We said them in unison, “MARK GREENE, NOAH WYLE.”
“Noah Wyle plays John Carter,” I said.
“Yes, that’s right. I’m sorry, I’m anxious today. I forgot Rick’s birthday.”
Rick is my brother who lives upstate.
“His birthday is October 9, I always remember it. He’s so upset with me.”
“He’s not upset, Mom. He understands.”
“These are important days, days we have to remember. I always remembered.”
(Mom hasn’t remembered my birthday for the past 4-5 years.)
“I know, Mom, and he’s not mad at you.”
“How do you know?”
“I asked him; he’s fine.” (I never asked him.)
“Are you sure?”
“Okay.” Her face was still scrunched up with upset.
“We all make mistakes, Mom. It’s okay.”
Pseudonyms used for residents and staff at the Actors Home.