I knew that it was going to be “one of those days.” For starters, I had to wake up early and be at the nursing home by 9 to bring Mom to the doctor for her appointment. This made no sense to me, as my Mom’s doctor is the visiting physician for the nursing home. But my phone conversation a week earlier with an assistant at his office had confirmed the fact that yes, I needed to bring her there.
This would require a lot of what my Mom used to call “rigamarole” involving sign-offs, paperwork, shifting Mom from one wheelchair to another, and answering Mom’s questions. As soon as I saw her, I could tell that Mom was tired. This meant that I had to be a lot more careful and watchful when moving her from place to place. But it also meant that she would want to close her eyes in the car, resulting in less questions; and maybe she would not want to go out for the usual cup of coffee and donut after the doctor’s visit. I almost hoped she wouldn’t. By 9:30 that morning, I was feeling stressed and exhausted. Mom was looking less like a person of interest and more like just another chore.
As it turns out, there had been a miscommunication. Mom’s doctor could have simply seen her in the nursing home. I felt my blood pressure rise, but then I was treated to one of my favorite sights — Mom’s doctor grasping both of her hands in his at the end of the visit, telling her that she was doing wonderfully and everything had checked out fine. Mom’s doctor communicates directly with Mom after every exam, holding her hands in just that manner. I never tire of seeing this happen, and it always makes my heart melt.
And so I left the office with Mom in a fairly good frame of mind, and was more open to a stop for coffee.
“Would you like to get a cup of coffee, Mom?”
“Well, you like coffee, right?”
I had to smile. No one returns a volley like Mom.
“Yes, I do! Let’s get some!”
We made our way to the Dunkin Donuts in nearby Red Bank, and our journey was not without its glitches. Mom tries to be helpful, but often ends up being a wrench in the works. I try to be even-keeled, but my mood shifts like the wind. If prizes were awarded for trying hard, Mom and I would be winners. But they’re not, so .. well.. there we were.
“Ugh, ugh, oh no,” Mom said as I placed her in the transport chair for the ride into the donut shop. “Am I hurting you?” I asked crankily, realizing that I needed that third morning cup of coffee more than I had expected to. “No, I feel badly for you!” she said. “OK well you’re not helping me by making those noises,” I said. “Ok, sorry” she said and we sailed in with the help of all the John Q. Publics who always hold the doors open for us (God bless them).
I deposited Mom at a table with a view (of highway 35, but hey whatever) and announced that we should split a donut. My mood had shifted to the dark side once again. “That’s fine,” Mom said. We usually get a donut each, but at this point I was frankly looking to get this whole thing over with and get Mom safely back into the home. Besides, I’m trying to cut down on my sugar intake (why that should affect my poor Mom, I can’t tell you. I haven’t a clue.) But when I walked up to the counter, I saw the most beautiful sight; it was a tray of jelly donuts with a layer of creamy white icing and a colorful, sort of windmill-like spinner on top of that. I know it sounds crazy, but the sight of those donuts lightened my mood. I returned to the table and Mom said, “So, we’re splitting a donut?”
I could hear the disappointment in her voice, and I was happy to tell her otherwise. “Oooh, that’s pretty!” she said happily when she saw my donut. I could tell that she was thrilled to have her own favorite, the Boston crème, all to herself. I also realized that I had almost been stingy not only with the donuts, but with my time. After that I relaxed, and Mom and I had a great conversation and lots of laughs courtesy of our chance encounter with my former supervisor (Mom afterwards –“Ooh, he’s handsome — did you say his name was Howard Stern?”) and a woman who sat nearby wearing an overly bedazzled outfit (“Who is that?” “I don’t know, Mom!” “Hmmm,” Mom said, eyebrows raised in disapproval as though she was placed in charge of setting society’s limits on how much of your attire you are allowed to bedazzle).
I returned Mom back to her facility with the usual fanfare. There is something about Mom that causes a flutter of activity around her, and much admiration. It was something I’d forgotten when she lived with me. And, frankly, I’d forgotten about it quite often up until yesterday.
So I guess my miscommunication with the doctor’s office and my outing with Mom was one of those things that was meant to happen. It was a timely reminder that Mom is not a burden or a chore or someone to be dealt with and then forgotten about. She is a bright light in a dark forest, a polarizing force that causes you to laugh out loud and not care that you are spitting out bits of your windmill-festooned donut. She helps you forget your troubles, while at the same time encouraging you to believe that whatever it is that has been weighing on your mind is either best forgotten or going to get better. Her mere presence causes you to feel enclosed in beauty and joy and promise.
She is, in a word, bedazzling.