We had a wonderful, if hectic, Christmas. My three nieces (twins and their younger, college-student sister) and two of their boyfriends came in waves, starting Christmas Eve (Friday). The plan was for the girls and their guys to stay 2 nights and then head down to south Jersey on Sunday for a party with the other side of their family. Two nieces and one boyfriend would be returning on Monday as the youngest had an interview at Columbia University on Tuesday for a summer job as a resident assistant. I offered to take her to the appointment.
A major blizzard extended their stay through Tuesday. It was great having five 20-somethings around to help shovel us out from over 2 feet of snow. We also had a swell time playing games and soaking in the hot tub. It was a particular blast during the height of the storm!
The girls are also very sweet with mom. The youngest engages her in conversation easily. They brought her a gift basket full of goodies, too. Mom enjoyed them to the extent that she could, but the noise and tumult were a little confusing for her. And her ability to eat unassisted is evaporating.
We had planned on meeting my brother and his family for brunch on that Sunday, but the storm started around 11 am, so they didn’t make it. But we got Mom up and out and we all went out to a local tavern for brunch ahead of the blizzard. I ordered Mom a dish she could mostly eat with her hands, and that worked out pretty well.
On Tuesday, one of my twin nieces and her boyfriend left, the care-giver arrived and the rest of us struck out for Columbia. I got to spend time with one of the twins while the youngest had her interview (and was hired on the spot!). Once we got back to Ringwood, the girls and the remaining boyfriend took off for Maryland. The house returned to “normal.” I got to work doing lots of laundry and vacuuming.
Meanwhile, the nurse who was charged with evaluating Mom’s condition for her long term care benefits thought it best to delay her Tuesday appointment until Thursday because of the snow. As the days passed, my concern that Mom’s symptoms would abate upon the nurse’s arrival changed to worry that keeping her here with us might not be practical for the long term.
On Thursday, the nurse arrived a little late (GPS issues), but she was kind and clearly knew her business. Mom knew the year, but not the month or date. She doesn’t know what street she lives on or the name of the town. She couldn’t copy a line drawing of two intersecting pentagons. When asked to write down a sentence, after an agonizing interval, she copied the sentence that appeared higher up on the page. I reported some of Mom’s issues for the record and we discussed items that might facilitate Mom’s care. As she was leaving, I asked the nurse if there was any doubt about Mom’s claim. She said not at all and recommended some resources for me.
For New Year’s Eve, I made a prime rib roast (my husband’s favorite; I bought it on sale). I cooked it nice and rare the way Bob and Mom like. I cut up Mom’s piece into chunks, but left all the pieces assembled around the bone so it looked like a whole rib.
Mom had been dressed all day (the care-giver had been with her). But when I announced it was dinner time, Mom went into her room and decided to remove her top and bra and partially put on a flannel night gown. She had one arm through, backwards, and the rest of her was hanging out. I took her into the bathroom and got her fully into the gown and helped her back to the table.
She didn’t touch her salad and didn’t seem to know how to approach the meat. She’d pick up pieces with her fingers, chew them, drop them on the floor. I went over and helped cut the meat into smaller pieces. She remarked that she would soon need a high chair.
Eventually, she gave up and went to bed.
Bob tried to comfort me as I cleaned up.
We watched some TV.
As midnight approached, Bob prepared the champagne and glasses. He opened the hot tub. We got in and listened for the countdown on TV. Bob popped open the bottle and poured. We drank, kissed and watched the fireworks deployed by our reveling neighbors.
Bob asked what I wanted for the New Year. I said “The strength to deal with what’s coming.”
Happy New Year, indeed. I hope you find the strength YOU need.