Parental Journal 112 from Planet Elderly: She’s 94 and Still Spunky

Monday, August 17, 2020 – mid-afternoon

Extended Birthday

Mom’s birthday was yesterday, August 16.  Visitors aren’t allowed on the weekend, so we celebrated early during our Thursday visit and again today.  On Sunday, she had specially made birthday cake and a celebration with staff and neighbors.  So it is during these COVID times.

On Thursday I brought her a lovely bouquet of flowers from me and her cousin, Carol.  When I told the florist at the store about my mom’s birthday, she removed a tired daisy and replaced it with 5 bright and beautiful sunflowers.  Way to go, Schnucks Customer Service!

Mom flowers for 94 birthday 2020

I also brought her a card from me and a card from Carol.  She can’t read well, so I read the cards to her and she looked so happy.

“How old are you going to be on Sunday, Mom?” I asked.

She paused to let the question sink in, wrinkled her brow a bit, and replied, “OLD!”

When I saw her today, I brought my 15-year-old cockapoo, Cinnamon.  I adopted him when he was 11.  He doesn’t see well these days and he’s basically deaf, but Mom always enjoys seeing him.  Today was no different.  It took her a minute to associate who he is and who he belongs to, but it wasn’t too long before she reached out to pet him.  Eventually, he got close enough for her to pet his head and then he could smell her.  I let her hold the leash a bit and I told her to hold it tightly.

mom and cinnamon 081720

It was then that Cinnamon took on the role of guide.  Before I knew it, he was walking around and pulling Mom with him.  She enjoyed the ride and we laughed.

There is one more gift to give her…as soon as it arrives.  She loves my dark blue tee shirt with the heart dandelion design.  I ordered one for her and I can’t wait to give it to her.

Assessment

I brought Mom two additional birthday cards today:  one from the bank and one from friend Sharon in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  I had opened the card from the bank, so it was just placed back in the envelope.  The card from Sharon had not been opened.  I wanted to see how well Mom could maneuver getting access to the cards.

She managed to get to the card from the bank fairly easily, except that I had to keep reminding her that there was a card inside.  She preferred to focus on reading her name on the envelope.

The unopened card was exactly the challenge I thought it would be.  She was easily distracted by the different stamps, her name on the envelope, and had difficulty distinguishing the front from the back.  I let her work on it for quite a while and coached her with some suggestions about how to open it.  At one point she started to get a piece of the envelope opened, but she was more interested in what Cinnamon was doing.  After it was clear she had forgotten the card in her hand, I offered to help her.  I opened it and read it to her.  She liked the message, seemed to recognize Sharon’s name after I said, “Sharon was married to your cousin Grant.  They moved to Las Vegas for a few years.  Sharon returned to Wisconsin to be closer to her family after Grant passed away.”   That statement did not go unnoticed.  Her expression showed concern after hearing the words, “passed away.”

Old Photo

A couple of weeks ago, I brought Mom a photo that I believe was taken her senior year of high school.  It looks like a senior high portrait.  She was surprised to learn that the person in the photo was her.  Donnie, one of the supervising staff aides, texted me today to say he got a frame for the photo.  He included this photo:

Mom’s wedding cake topper from her marriage to my stepdad next to her high school graduation photo.  Pearl is, of course, wearing a pearl necklace and pearl earrings.

Mom HS graduation photo

When I look at that photo and think about Mom’s life journey and where she is now, I am so proud of her.  She is a survivor..a spunky one.  I am also grateful that we are having these later years to grow old together.

About jjmummert

Just another voice in the wilderness from someone who's lived on this planet for over 70 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. In late March 2017 I was able to move Mom closer to me where she resided at a memory care assisted living community until being downsized to a skilled nursing senior community in October 2018 in Columbia, Missouri. I view the Parental Journal entries as part therapy, part family history, sort of a case study of our family's journey with dementia. 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 website: https://www.agingcare.com/ ; https://www.alz.org/
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