As I wheeled Mom towards the day room, Raymond swept his arm across his waist and bent his head slightly in a bowing gesture. Then he started to whistle.
“I can’t do it,” he said, only whistling for a moment.
“It’s not so easy to do,” I said.
“Yes,” he said.
He smiled brightly at me as Mom and I moved towards the day room / dining room.
“Where are you going?” he said.
“In there,” I said, and he followed us.
I sat next to Mom at her designated dining table.
Raymond looked at us, smiling, “It’s lovely – this,” and he continued on towards other tables.
Raymond was a professional dancer. The daughter of another resident witnessed the bow and said, “He’s a real gentleman.”
“Yes, he is,” I said.
I can’t remember the last time a man bowed to me. It’s not something that happens every day, especially not in the 21st century.
One of the nurses told me Raymond used to dance with Fred Astaire.
He also likes to go from room to room. When he enters Mom’s room sometimes, he asks, “Is this okay?”
I tell him yes.
I wish I knew what he was trying to say. It’s the same way I feel about Mom.
“Mom, I was in the doctor’s office the other day and you know what he had?” I said.
“No,” she said.
“Pussy willows. Remember them?”
As a kid, I marveled at the furry texture of the bud;, they seemed half-animal / half-plant to me. Where did Mom find such a miraculous creation?
“They have a long thick stem and little oval blossoms that are silky like kittens. You used to bring them home and put them in a vase,” I said.
“I don’t remember,” she said.
photo by Liz West
Sometimes I wish she would.
*Pseudonyms are used for all residents and staff at the Actors Home.