Early Morning


Waiting for the sun to rise, finishing my tea, contemplating breakfast before walking the dog.  It’s thirty-five degrees out there, gonna be a brisk trundle along the Airline Trail, but it’s my sort of morning.  I don’t mind the cold.

I don’t really want to write about Mom this morning.  There’s stuff going on, but nothing definitive.  We have a care conference tomorrow to see where things are headed.  Suffice to say that nothing much has changed or improved.  I’ll report back later.

When I visited her on Saturday, though, I took a few moments to let her chat with my husband and a friend, and strolled down to the nurses’ station to get their feedback on her condition.  Met an elderly woman in a wheelchair as I went down the corridor.  I’ve seen her before.  She always looks vaguely distressed.  She met my eyes this time, clearly agitated, and half-lifted a hand, so I went to her.  I couldn’t entire make out what she wanted, but I listened and then promised to ask a nurse to help her.

“Oh, thank you!” she said with obviously relief.

“You know,” I said, trying to change the topic, get her away from whatever was bothering her, “You look very nice.  That’s a lovely outfit.  And I love your necklace.”  It was a big, long, gaudy inexpensive strand of big gold beads that all but pooled in her tiny lap.  “You look like a flapper.”

She laughed and toyed with the necklace as if dancing.  It was a wonderful moment…and then she took my hand, kissed it, and said, “God bless you,” and I was overcome with the realization that all I had done — all she wanted anyone to do — was to SEE HER.  Really and truly SEE HER.  Not brush by as they worked the unit.  Not meet her eyes and look away.  SEE HER – who she is, as she is, where she is.  Acknowledge that she is alive and deserving of attention.

Isn’t that what we all want?

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About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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5 Responses to Early Morning

  1. bluestempond says:

    I find myself avoiding eye contact with residents in the hallway because it is distressing when they just stare back blankly. Worse is when they plaintively ask, “Where is my mother?” or say, “I have to get out of here!” It had not occurred to me to make pleasant conversation. Maybe I’ll try that today.

  2. How true, Melissa! Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that are the most important.

  3. marie mccarthy says:

    What a treat this “simple” post was. But you not only Saw Her and offered to help, you also interacted with her with humor. She understood and appreciated your Flapper reference. I’ll bet she is still thinking of that kind young woman who noticed her jewelry. Perhaps she’s even humming an old 1920’s Rudy Vallee tune to herself (“The Varsity Drag”?). Your Mom and her community are lucky to have you as a visitor/member. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Marie. When dealing with elderly patients, you never know if they’ll remember or not. And it’s not necessary that they do. This isn’t about me, but about them. If I pay the same compliment a dozen times over, who cares so long as it’s a positive mark on both our days?

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