Days We Have to Remember

ER

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.

“Mom, enough.”

“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.

ER?”

“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.”

“They did?”

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?”

“Yes.”

“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.

Where is Bear?

black bear

photo courtesy of Ridgewood Police Dept.

We heard on the news this morning that a baby black bear was on the prowl in Ridgewood–a neighboring town. He was tranquilized and captured today. I’m glad they didn’t hurt him.

Another group of animals were on the loose at my mom’s residence last week. When I spoke to her on Thursday, she said that all three of her stuffed animals had gone missing. I spoke to the night nurse Dottie who scoured her room to no avail. I called Friday morning and spoke to Nell, the morning nurse. Still no luck. Both Dottie and Nell assumed the animals went into the wash.

Nell said, “The aide said the cat was stinky.”

“Yes, it was,” I said.

I agree, Mouse was quite rank, but the others were perfectly hygienic.

The missing animals were: Mouse (a cat), Snoopy (Snoopy) and a teddy bear she calls “Bear.” Fortunately I had purchased 3 additional “Mouses” in case of such an occurrence. Mouse 1 went missing at her first nursing home, never to turn up again. Mouse 2 is the one currently at large. Friday was a busy day: Lorin’s mom was flying in for his dad’s memorial service on Saturday, and we had other errands to attend to. Still, I was determined to bring Mom a new Mouse so that she would not spend the weekend fretting and fussing.

Mouse

Mouse 1 (photo by E. Herd)

Enter Mouse 3.

When Mom  saw her, she said, “She’s so clean!”

Mom held her in her lap while we drank coffee and ate cookies.

Several minutes later, her aide Angela and Nell stood in the doorway holding “old” Mouse and Snoopy. Angela looked giddy.

I said, “Look mom, it’s Snoopy.”

Mom turned around in her wheelchair and smiled. I thanked Angela and Nell and handed Snoopy to Mom, placing Mouse 2 on her bed so as not to cause greater confusion.

“I missed him so much,” she said, looking at Snoopy. She kept Mouse 3 and Snoopy on her lap for the rest of our visit.

After a while she said, “I wonder where Bear is.”

“I don’t know. Maybe he needed a vacation.” Mom laughed.

Now that there was some semblance of order, it seemed fitting that we continue watching ER–we’re on episode 11 or 12 of season 2.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, two of her favorite characters are Dr. Mark Greene and Dr. John Carter. I asked Mom if she could remember the last name of the character named Mark.

She scrunched up her face, “Mark . . . ”

“It begins with the letter ‘G’.”

I pointed to my green shirt and said, “What color is this?”

No response.

Then I pointed to the leaves of her plant. “What color are these?”

She stared at me. I’m not sure if the question didn’t register, the word “color” or something else. I finally told her the name. Greene.

Then she blurted, “Noel Wyle.”

“Yes, Noah Wyle. That’s the actor who plays John Carter. Let’s write it down.”

I took the index card spiral notebook out of her drawer–the one she used to use for grocery lists, phone numbers, doctors’ appointments and other information. I wrote in block letters, ” JOHN CARTER = NOAH WYLE.” On the next line, I wrote, “MARK GREENE.”

We repeated the names together, “Noah Wyle, John Carter, Mark Greene.”

“I wonder where Bear went,” Mom said.

“I’m sure he’ll be back soon. We’ll keep looking for him.”

*Pseudonyms have been used for staff members at the nursing home.