Saturday, October 18, 2008

Highs and Lows

in no particular order:

Mom has decided she likes Panera, and can see why it's a successful business. We finish lunch. As we drive out of the parking lot, she says, "I'm really glad we ate there, and not at the Green ... Duck–or is it the Blue Rooster ..."

Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see the restaurant she's referring to. "Oh, you mean the Red Lobster!" We both get a good laugh out of that. You're told to treasure these funny moments, but I don't want to treasure them. At this point, they're painful as well as funny.

The past week has been hard. Sitting with Mom, holding her hand while she cried, trying to explain to her why she's moving to the dreaded memory area. Seeing her feel diminished. Since I've been back, I'm anxious about every "next" phone call with her. Each call either brings relief or distress.

The night I get back, I call her soon as I get off the plane and she seems all right. The next morning she calls me (Sondra dials for her) and is terrified that she'll be stuck where she is until she dies, and wishes for a gun.

Driving back to her new apartment after a successful shopping trip:

Mom: Now ... how are you related to Kenneth? (Kenneth is her husband, who died in 1966.)

Me: He's my father!

Mom: You don't mean it!

Yes, Mom! And he's Aggle's father, too.

Mom: Well I'm so glad. Do you look like him?

Me: Let's get out some pictures when we get back to your apartment and see!

She goes on to ask where I was born and where Aggles and I went to school.

My mom's retirement complex has a room set up for their residents to vote who can't drive to the polls on November 3. It's open from 1:00 to 3:00 the first day I'm there. Mom waltzes in on her walker at 2:40 and we're informed that the voting booths have been packed up. "But she has to vote!" I protest. Mom says, "Yes. I thought there was still time."

They begin unpacking one of the voting computers and set it back up. Mom approaches slowly. I walk up close enough to see that the voting chart does not look simple. Mom is confused. Finally the voting booth woman simply asks Mom if she knows who she'd like to vote for for President. Mom says: "O-ba-ma."

The Voting Booth Woman says, "OK. Now this side is Democrat and this side is Republican." As she says, "This side is Republican," she puts her finger on the button with the big X next to McCain's name. So my mom pushes the button next to McCain's name.

"That's not who she wanted to vote for!" I protest.

The Voting Booth Woman scolds me: "You're not allowed to influence her!"

"I didn't influence her! She influenced me!" I remember when she dragged me to the Al Gore movie, and when she introduced me to Molly Ivins' column.

The Voting Booth Woman unplugs the setup and restarts it. Mom votes for Obama. They move on to the next page. I see Mom gingerly touch another button; then she gives up. At that point I don't even care. She's voted for O-ba-ma.