Mom comes home tomorrow. Lord, what a relief. Dad has mourned every day that she’s been gone–which will be twenty-two days tomorrow.
“I miss her so much.”
“She might just sit there in that chair most of the time, but I miss her sitting there.”
“I can’t help it. I miss her.”
“I don’t know why I miss her so much more this time.”
Then, when I said, “Dad, she hasn’t died. She’s coming home soon,” he answered, “Well, I think if she were gone for good, I could get reconciled to it. This is bad, though.” Yeah, Dad. Yeah.
Yesterday, he was particularly blue so I said, “Do you want to go to visit Mom?”
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble for you.”
I wanted to say, “YOU are trouble for me, Dad.” Sometimes I do say it, and when I do, we both laugh.
So he put his dentures in and we got in the van and headed to Woodcrest, the rehabilitation facility. It’s a skilled nursing facility at The Blakeford, a multi-level living center for seniors.
“Mom will be home in time for your anniversary,” I said.
“Halloween,” he said. “Sixty-eight years. That’s a long time.”
Dad followed me through the front doors and stopped while I signed in at the front desk. When we travel together, he prefers to follow me. Besides, he didn’t know the way to Mom’s new room. She moved just five days before her discharge date. What happened was…
She was in a double room alone until just over a week ago, when a woman from a prominent Nashville family came to be her roommate. Let’s call her Mrs. T, which is not the initial for her last name. The family owns one of the oldest restaurants in town. Mrs. T. is ninety-four and she is a hard woman, according to reports from people who worked for her. We quickly realized whenever she was awake, she would be talking–and cursing. She didn’t yell. She was just loud enough to aggravate.
Mom applied her management skills. In the daytime, when Mrs. T. cursed a blue streak and followed with, “Help me, help me. Jesus, help me,” Mom would ask, “What’s wrong, Mrs. T.? You have everything you need. Now you sit up straight and quit that hollering.”
Mrs. T. would humbly answer, “Okay.”
And then Mrs. T. started ordering Mom around. Mom loved that.
“Hey, you over there!” Mrs. T. yelled. “Get me the nurse.”
Mom was quick to answer. “I will not. You have a call button. Push it.”
“I can’t eat my dinner. I need somebody to feed me,” she said. “Get somebody to feed me.”
“No. You don’t need anybody to feed you. You pick up that fork and get with it.”
Mom said she ate everything on her plate that time.
One time, Mrs. T. told Mom to “get your ass over here and help me in the bathroom.”
Mom answered, “Now, look, [first name], I don’t work for you and I never have. There’s no way I can help you to the bathroom.”
I think things would have been fine if Mom could have rested up from her bossing, but Mrs. T. got her days and nights mixed up.
Mom suggested that somebody give one of them a sleeping pill, and she didn’t particularly care which one. She just wanted some sleep.
Finally, she called to say she was in a new room, rooming with a friend from physical therapy.
“Oh, she’s hilarious,” Mom said. “Remember I told you about the one that said she was going to take Dr. Quinn home with her?” (Dr. Quinn IS cute.)
I met Jeri that same day. She was in a considerable amount of pain from a hip replacement, but Mom was right. She was hilarious.
The first thing she said to me was, “Oh, I could have guessed whose daughter you were. Oops, excuse me. Maybe you don’t want to look like that old heifer over there.”
“Oh, I don’t mind,” I said. “She’s in pretty good shape for eighty-two years.”
“Yeah,” she said, “you’re probably not going to hold up that well.” Then she laughed.
The next time I visited, Jeri had been out most of the day for a doctor’s appointment. While she was out, she decided to have a haircut. It was really short.
“Look, Ethel,” she said when she rolled back in, “I left here an old woman and came back an old man.”
She came back from therapy yesterday afternoon when Dad and I were visiting Mom. Mom introduced her to Dad. “Jeri, this is my husband, Ernie.”
“Ohhhhhhh, honey,” she said, “I thought he was your son. Whew! Good-looking.”
Mom and Jeri giggled.
Dad just looked from one to the other. He didn’t have his hearing aid. When we’d been there just short of an hour, Dad asked, “You want to go home now?”
“Whenever you’re ready,” I told him.
“We better go. We need to get home before dark.”
Mom held out her arms. “Well, honey, give me a kiss good-bye. It’s just two days now and I’m ready to come home.”
“I cleaned your pantry for you,” he said. (He didn’t, but he thinks he did.)
Mom answered, “You did? You better get some rest before I come home.”
“I will.” He kissed her goodbye.
I said, “Okay, Dad, follow me.”
When we got in the van, I asked him if he felt better now.
“Yes, I do, mentally. But my shingles are causing me a whole lot of pain right now.”
“Let’s go home and get your heating pad,” I said.
He answered, “Mom’s coming home in two days.”