I went to the store yesterday to buy stuff to make a Valentine's Day party for my mother, held on the 13th because I work on the 14th. I got some heart chocolates, a chocolate mousse cup with fruit on it for dessert, tomatoes and mozarella for caprese salad and I was ready to make sandwiches to take with it. I even found the special mustard she likes, though only one of three supermarkets in Davis carries Coleman's mustard. I bought some red tulips planted in a pot and a valentine balloon to stick in the pot with them, and got some heart-patterned napins and a Valentine's card.
Early this morning I was up making heart-shaped sandwiches and the salad.
I made ham and cheese (and mustard) sandwiches and strawberry cream cheese sandwiches, so she could have a choice. I made the caprese salad and packed everything in a cooler. I found a couple of red paper plates left over from our Super Bowl party to serve everything on so there would be no dishes to wash.
I was looking forward to the lunch, but not to the conversation I planned to have with her. Her stepson, Ed, and I had had a conversation a couple of days before, sharing our mutual concerns about her diminishing memory and about her growing inability to keep up her house, which would not be a big deal if it were me, but it's another symptom of her deterioration. I also noted when I got there today that she has a huge plant on her front porch that is dead (and my mother is someone who can make sticks grow...and prides herself on her gardening skills). Later I noted that the lush, full, green plant in her family room is very sick and looks like it's dying. Ed had also mentioned that her house "doesn't smell right." I hadn't been aware of that, but when I entered the house today, I could get a whiff of what he meant.
Bottom line: it's time. But we've discussed this before and she has been adamant that she is going to stay in her own house until the end. I worried about "the talk" all the way down to her house. Ed had already set the stage with a long talk with her the last time he saw her, so this would not be a new idea.
I didn't bother much with small talk, but started out saying that Ed and I had talked and that we were both concerned. For the first time I talked about how bad her memory was becoming. She agreed and said she was aware of it. I also told her how much brighter she had been when I arrived last week and she had been visiting with a friend for half an hour before I got there. I pointed out that she no longer has the thrift stre to work in, half of her mah jong group had died, she doesn't see her best friend much any more because she's 10 years younger and my mother can't keep up with her any more. She's aways been a very sociable person, always the hostess, always having people around and she is becoming more and more introverted. I told her I really thought it was time to start thinking about moving to somewhere where she could be around people again.
To my incredible relief and great surprise, she said that just that morning she had been lying in bed thinking the very same thing. She said she was thinking about the 3 places she had visited and which was she interested in investigating further.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. She's READY!!! She agreed with everything I had to say, we talked about plans, we decided to get together with Ed, the 3 of us, next week or the week after to map out a plan of action. I told her it didn't have to be today or next week or even next month, but that our goal should be to move herthis year.
She agreed. Of course the memory was shot today, but she did tell me over and over again that this was going to be a year of change. Now we just have to make it happen in the best way possible, the easiest way for her.
I packed up a big box of books to take to Logos ("take any books you want. I just want them gone") and I moved some scrapbooks onto the empty shelf because the look of the scrapbooks has been bothering her for months, because they aren't stacked neatly. ("What am I keeping all those pictures for anyway?") But now they are neatly put away and I hope that will help. She even looked through the book I had assembled for her 80th birthday and enjoyed reading what everyone had written, so maybe she understands why she is "keeping all those photos anyway").
(This is part of the book I made for her 90th birthday)
As for lunch, she was surprised and delighted that I had brought food. And everything was delicious. After lunch, I took a nap before heading home. When I left, I had gone one offramp before I realized that I had left my camera behind, so I turned around to go back and get it. She called me to let me know I had left my cell phone behind. Then she said she wasn't sure if it was my cell phone or my camera. It didn't seem to hit her that she could not have called me if I had left my cell phone behind. When I drove up, she handed it to me and said "I don't know if this is your camera or your cell phone."