Note from the Eldercare Underground: Birthday Edition
My apologies to my faithful readers out there who’ve followed the ins and outs of my relationship with my mother over the past year. I haven’t forgotten you, so I thought I would share the latest in our ongoing saga.
My mother has settled in pretty well at her new digs, the nursing home next door to The Hotel. She’s been there almost two months now.
It’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the anniversary of the fateful fall in her home which brought about her hospital stay and subsequent tenure in two nursing homes and the retirement center.
Time flies when you’re trying to keep your head above water.
There have been good days and there have been not-so-good days. The last three days definitely fell into the latter category. For some reason, she began listing heavily over to the right when she was in her wheelchair.
She looked like an extra on the film “Titanic.”
The nurses were just as puzzled as I was. They didn’t think she’d had a stroke, but it was difficult for them to keep her upright. They also had trouble getting her to walk, even with help, so she spent most of her time in bed. She looked godawful.
Her 93rd birthday was just days away and it happened to fall on the day the nursing home would be celebrating all the September birthdays. I really had hoped she could attend the party, but things did not look promising.
I feared she was in a downward spiral.
So when I entered her room today, I was pleasantly surprised to find her in her wheelchair, dressed and upright. Her hair had obviously been done since it was swept back and poufy and sprayed with enough hairspray to plug the hole in the ozone layer.
Whoever had done her hair had also taken the time to apply some eyebrows with a reddish-brown brow pencil. It gave her a somewhat surprised expression. She looked for all the world like Joan Crawford in her early days. (I was glad the extra clothes hangers I’d brought with me weren’t wire ones.)
Her aide, Laura, was fussing over her like a mother hen and even got her up to walk to the bathroom with the help of a walker. Amazing.
Laura told me she’d asked my mother earlier how old she was and she’d told her “Thirty-five.” I guess if you get to pick an age, thirty-five ain’t bad.
At the appointed time I wheeled her into the dining hall and we took our place at a table near the piano. A local couple was going to entertain, with the husband singing and playing guitar and the wife accompanying him on the piano.
While the other folks were slowly arriving, my mother pipes up with–
“There’s my boyfriend.”
I thought she meant the elderly gentleman from her wing of the nursing home who was just being brought in by Fernando, one of the aides. No, she meant Fernando.
(By explanation, last week she’d told me that Fernando was making “advances” to her. It turns out after he lifted her out of her bed, he’d given her a hug. This isn’t the first time she’d misinterpreted attention from a much younger male. A few years ago when she went to see our now retired dentist, he’d put his arm around her when he was leading her into a different operatory. She later told me she was sure he “wanted my body.”)
To kick things off, Larry, the activities director, read the names of the birthday honorees, asking them to state their age if they so wished. When he came to my mother, he said he didn’t need to ask her her age because she’d already told them that she was thirty-five.
(Note to self: be careful what you say because word gets around the nursing home like wildfire.)
Everyone laughed, but my mother had really set a precedent. Almost all of the ladies who came after her said they were somewhere in their thirties, except one lady who stated she was “twenty-nine and holding.”
My daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Kris, had joined us for the festivities. Kris’ 38th birthday is coming up in a couple of days. My husband, Rick, who turned 76 last March, stayed home to tackle some mowing before the rain (yay!) they’re predicting starts tomorrow.
Rick had mentioned yesterday he was 38 when Kris was born.
This is important to remember. There will be a test later.
There was cake and punch and sing-alongs and even a humorous song about Rocky Mountain oysters that got the ladies guffawing. A good time was had by all.
When it was over I asked my mother if she wanted to go back to her room and open up the gifts of new clothing I’d brought her. She looked around and said, under her breath, “we can’t just leave a houseful of people.”
In a way, it’s kind of nice that she thinks the nursing home is truly her “home.” I convinced her that it wouldn’t be rude, and I wheeled her back to her room.
After opening her presents and commenting on the lovely flowers from my brother and Sarah and Kris, Mom said:
“Rick looked pretty good today.”
I told her it was Kris, not Rick, who was here today for the party.
After I returned home, I told my husband what she’d said. He got a good laugh from her comment. He said yeah, he’d take being 38 again instead of 76.
And my son-in-law, Kris, thought it was pretty funny too, except I told him he got the raw end of the deal. Although, I did have to point out she’d said he “looked pretty good.”
I think Fernando better watch out. No telling what a 93-year-old lady with lacquered hair and new eyebrows might do next.