A medical note: Mom does not have shingles. I don’t know where she got the idea. It’s just a little rash, the doctor said today. By the time I got there this afternoon, the rash was practically gone…and the medication hadn’t yet arrived. But, for two days, Mom believed she had “germs,” and isolated herself to her room.
Lisa has been doing Mom’s laundry of late. Considerate to a fault, Mom did it herself today, not wanting to give us germs. This despite the tremendous inconvenience to her and the fact that the doctor said she didn’t have germs. It could be worse; she could pull out the old, “You’re so busy” excuse. Which brings us to the subject of time.
First, a tip of the hat to The Chambers Brothers‘ Time Has Come Today. What does this song have to do with my mother? Nothing. This is just a poor excuse to highlight one of the great songs of 1968 by a group that’s still crankin’ today. For a certain group of ElderBlog readers, it will bring back groovy memories.
But, back to Mom.
Mom’s conversational pattern is non-existent these days. She jumps from one subject to another with abandon. She stuck with one subject today that I thought I’d share with you. You guessed it: it’s about time.
A little background: we switched from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time on Sunday at 2am. Mom’s primary clock, a digital with big numbers, needed to be adjusted. So she pushed buttons and pulled levers in an honest attempt to get the job done. Of course, she couldn’t. The settings got so screwed up. The alarm sounded. She’d punch something and it stopped…until ten minutes later.
My baby sister was talking with Mom on the phone Sunday evening, and – with great discernment – observed the alarm pattern and inquired about it. Mom confessed what she’d done and said that this thing was very annoying. But she didn’t want to ask for anyone’s help because “they are so busy.” (Oops, sorry…that’s not what this post is about.)
Well, Elizabeth called me, and I was about to call Piedmont Place when Mom called to say that she had fixed the alarm herself, and then got a staffer to adjust the other clocks. I made her promise to call me if it alarmed again. If that happened, I was going to go there myself. Thankfully, I never got the call.
When I visit Mom, I run through an inventory of supplies that I know she’ll need: Activia, Glucerna, prunes, mouthwash, toothpaste, etc. Some of these items have short codes on them, so I replenish them when they’re almost gone. (It’s a LOT cheaper if I buy them than if the facility supplies them.) This I did, today, wrote some notes, and Mom added a couple of items to my list. I also double-checked her clocks and found that the digital still had an alarm set on it. That got fixed in a hurry. Then began Mom’s customary jump-from-one-thing-to-another conversation. I settled in.
When Mom’s watch died a few months ago, she uncharacteristically called and asked me – with some urgency – to pick up the watch and “fix it.” A fresh battery later, and it was back in commission. Mom was visibly relieved. She wears that watch day and night.
She also looks at the watch frequently whether she’s checking to see if it’s mealtime or to see if we’re going to get back to Piedmont Place in time for Bingo. She does the same with the clocks in her room. Being in the right place at the appointed time is important to her sense of stability.
One subject Mom covered today struck me as poignant. She said that she was very conscious of time. Why? Because there was no time when she was young in war-torn Europe. There was just day and then night. There was no such thing as an appointment; no such thing as a schedule. There was only the moment.
So Mom – as many others – appreciated time all the more when that became possible. She cherishes it; celebrates it; respects it; is always mindful of it.
It’s like anything else, I suppose. You take things for granted until they’re gone. When they’re gone, you are eager to have them back. When you get them back, you hold on tightly.
Perhaps my song reference today should have been Joni Mitchell‘s Big Yellow Taxi. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got
till it’s gone…” I would’ve thought of it, I’m sure. But I was so busy…