Parental Journal 46 from Planet Elderly: Mom Has a Gentleman Caller – Literally

Thursday, February 18, 2016  – evening

Mom on phone with Jerry Feb. 2016

Every morning between 8 and 8:30 a.m. Mom receives a call from her pal, Jerry. He and his wife lived in this area several years ago and belonged to a small group that included my folks. I think they all met at the local senior center or at bingo. There were four couples and they would get together to attend church dinners together or sometimes go to the casino.

Bit by bit, individuals died. Jerry and his wife moved to a rural area in southern Illinois where his wife died of cancer. He now lives with her cat who has finally adopted him, and he is an avid talker. I mean T.A.L.K.E.R. And loud.

Mom understands that he is lonely, but he also has his daily routine. He walks two miles every morning and then has coffee with some locals. He is a ham radio operator, enjoys growing vegetables, has a talent for working on old cars and old tractors, can fix anything, and he checks in on Mom every morning…sometimes twice a day.

Mom greets him cheerfully. From what I can hear, they seem to talk about the same things over and over…the weather…his belief that the country is going to hell…remembering things “the group” used to do together. They also give each other advice. Jerry asks about Dad every day. Mom says he has a group of ladies he calls. In addition, three sisters live on the property next door and they often invite him over for Sunday afternoon dinners.

Sometimes Mom giggles when they are on the phone together. Other times she looks very pained because she wants to get off the phone but he keeps talking. She holds the phone away from her head and rolls her eyes at me. I just laugh.

“He keeps saying the same thing over and over,” she says. (Hmmmm. Tell me about it, I say to myself.)

“He’s starting to forget things…can’t remember a name, but I tell him we all do that.” (Yup, we do.)

“He remembers when we danced together one time,” she said. “And he calls me ‘Hon.’ If anything happens to Dad, I’m not getting married again. No way.” (Probably a good idea.)

I return to Missouri tomorrow, and I’m ready. After living Mom’s routine day in and day out for about three weeks and having just 1 ½ hours to myself, I’m ready to resume my regular life for a few weeks…recharge the battery…spend time with family and friends…move into my new rental.  I’ll return in April, unless there’s some reason I need to return earlier.

Photos follow…
Rosco – a therapy visiting pet who had his very first visit in Dad’s wing Tuesday.

Rosco dog visitor Feb. 2016

 

Mom and Dad enjoying my homemade chocolate chip cookies, and yes, I enjoyed some as well. Okay, more than “some.” A lot. What can I say? Homemade chocolate chip cookies make taste buds weep with joy…and flabby pouches and butts groan with guilt. My bad.

Mom Dad and cookie Feb. 2016

 

Dad and chocolate chip cookie Feb 2016

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 60 years and faces permanent residency on Planet Elderly. Update: As of March 2, 2017, I turned 70. I'm now an official resident of Planet Elderly. Dad passed away September 22, 2016. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of what our family experiences with one parent in a memory care unit, another living independently with short-term memory loss, and me, the only child daughter who lives 400 miles away. It's quite an adventure. Recommended readings for others who have loved ones who live with some form of dementia: The 36-Hour Day, The Myth of Alzheimer's - What You Aren't Being Told About Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis, Alzheimer's Early Stages.
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