January 30, 2012

What to take?

My mom was moved into a skilled nursing unit today. Yesterday she fell again, and my father hurt his shoulder trying to get her up off the floor. She has been having breathing problems for 24 hours and isn't lucid or able to walk more than a few feet.
This morning Dad called the ambulance again, and they ran the same battery of tests the Medical Folk ran last weekend.

We all know what is happening. After ten years of dementia, her physical body has had enough. The question is: how long will it take? A day? A month? A year?

I'm going to visit her tomorrow, leaving my husband at home. He has diabetes and I worry about him, so today I roasted a turkey breast and made a healthy fruit salad and did six loads of laundry and basically behaved like someone on speed.

Now I'm finished with all my chores, and trying to figure out what to take. How long will I be gone? I don't know. Should I take Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes? I don't know.

After pondering this for a few minutes and running off my mental checklist of all the usual items: it hit me.

I know exactly what to take. I'm taking my books, my "Poems for Boys and Girls" by Helen Ferris, "Little Brown Bear Goes to School", and my Lutheran Book of Prayer.

My mother was an elementary school teacher and read to my brother and me constantly. She loved words and how they fit together in poetry, like pieces in a puzzle. So I will read her "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and things by Longfellow and Teasdale and Kipling. I will read bits of The Bard and I will read Luther's Morning Prayer.

I will read about Brown Brown and Miss Ringy Raccoon and the picnic with the chocolate cake. And somewhere, in some sweet space, on some level, I know Mom will again savor these words she read to me.