No sunrise service or holiday ham…


It's the small things that count. The nursing home staff in Wood River do mom's hair once or twice a week. Her lucid moments may be few but when they occur, she is the mother I remember.

You’ve seen no letters to my mother in the past few months.  None has been sent.  Part of it is family dissuation, part is her new address and, moreover, a new staff who would have to be instructed to do the reading.  I was in Nebraska for Easter but there was no sunrise service or holiday ham.   Instead, the time was spent alone with her.  She has her moments of clarity and you can see the gleam in her eye when certain topics – her beloved golf (“I was good at it”) for example – are mentioned.

Her situation is a persistent topic among Ellen and Reid.  Last summer remains fresh for them. They don’t want to miss their chances.

——————–

April 25, 2011

Ellen/Reid: It seems like the trip to Grand Island, and more importantly, to Wood River, did not happen.  I was hardly on the ground long enough to catch my breath.  It was scarcely 48 hours from start to finish.

Your grandmother is doing okay.  She looked much better than I anticipated, and her mental cognizance was a little bit better than was anticipated, too.  She’s at a spot called Good Samaritan in Wood River, which as a town is nothing more than a wide spot on Highway 30 about 15 miles west of Grand Island.  The Union Pacific’s main East-West line is only about 20 yards from the highway so that gives you the history of Wood River right there.  Time, and the trains, have both passed it by.

But it is a good spot for her.  The staff is very caring, her hair was done nicely and someone had bothered to paint her nails.  It was obvious someone had paid attention to her.  Your uncle and I went straight there from the GI airport and the whole lot of them, about a dozen or 15, had been herded into the TV room although it was hard to see if anyone was really watching the tube.  Your grandmother wasn’t.  Her head was down but she was alert, and after a few seconds, she seemed excited to see the two of us.  She wasn’t quite sure who I was right off but then the light bulb turned on and you could see it in her eyes.

It is very hard to watch her slip away.  When you think about it, not even nine months ago she was ambulatory and much more conversant even if she had a lot of anger.  There is none of that now.  She’s confined to a wheelchair and her walker remains folded up against the wall.  She wears the same pair of shoes she’s worn for more than two years now.  She seems so much more balanced at this point, not because she’s sedated into silence, but her meds are much more attuned to her needs.  Your uncle found a doctor in GI who took the time to review all the dosages, removed some and put her on others and that has made an incredible difference for her.  As you look around the room at the other seniors, it’s not so much a quality of life issue as it is simply making the best of the days you have left.

Money will be an issue for her.  She’s running out of it.  It is incredible what even a little joint stuck in a backwater in the boonies of Nebraska costs month in and month out.  Your uncle, bless his heart, has had to bear the entirety of writing checks, and it appears that she will move yet again, this time to the Vet Center on the north side of Grand Island.  The cost won’t be so high, and her medications will be taken care of.  Honestly, it is really a matter of letting things take their course.  Moving to a high-end, beautifully designed spot wouldn’t amount to much for her because there are so many people at the Vet’s Home and so few staff.  She just won’t get the attention.  As long as she is clean and well fed, that is what matters.  Your uncle sees her every day, and that is about as much human interaction as she can handle.  I saw her three times out there, and on the final time I wondered if this might be the last time.  She perked up when the conversation turned to golf, and she said it always came easy to her.  That’s as conversant as she’d been.  She tries so hard to put two and two together, but being able to have some give and take just doesn’t work very well.  None of us really knows how she processes things.  I just want her to be comfortable and secure.

Felicia picked me up at the airport and it was good to get back to some normalcy.  Your uncle is encouraging me to make another visit sometime in June and I’ll probably do that.  I hope she can last that long.  But she knows we love her and she said the same.  That’s all I needed to hear.

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