I had just got off the phone from talking to my good and oldest
friend, Patrice, (that I still stay in touch with), who was preparing
for her annual trip to Charlevoix, Michigan. We both say sometimes
we should just call it, “Camelot.” Bill and I traveled up there once, to
see her sister’s renovated Castle Farms. The town is beautiful, with
Lake Charlevoix and the special houses that look like mushrooms are
there, too. The Castle is so breathtakingly Princess-like I complained
when we had to leave!
We did venture North ward to the Upper Peninsula, the locks, great
waterfalls, the towering evergreens, and Lake Michigan, too. I did
stop complaining, I think I was just missing my Patrice, who is
a source of comfort and joy. We saw all kinds of other fantastic
Pat had packed up her bags, shipped her papers and medications
up to Charlevoix, had completed a few different doctors’ visits,
and was relaxing. Pat’s sister, Linda, would be coming to take
them to the airport and she patiently listened to my nervous
energy and anxiousness about my Mom. She gave me comfort that
she had put my Mom on their church’s Prayer Chain, earlier in
We sang a little bit of “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” to cheer us both up.
She’s ready to leave soon. My car is packed, ready to go. Stopping
to call her before I go post this story about Mom and plans made.
Ever since Hurricane Katrina, this has become Pat’s yearly routine.
She has only once come back to Long Beach to find roof damage, no
serious side effects that could be compared to the year the hurricane
disaster hit the gulf coast.
since she hates and fears the potential
She has always, ever since I met her freshman year in college,
imparted heavenly peaceful feelings to me. She is my ‘Zen.’
Patrice was my first and only “Maid of Honor.” We’ve shared
a lot and has known my Mom since 1978. Both her parents died,
while she went to live down there, taking care of her Mom first,
then her Dad. Living in their retirement home, now.
She gave me a lot of reassurances and reminders of how ‘spunky’
and ‘strong-willed’ my mother is. I am prepared to see her in a few
Mom had been a little strange, had hurt her leg, twisting it a
little as she got out of the “Whistle Stop” restaurant booth.
My brother and I had decided to see what the place that had taken
over the old Cahoon Winery would look like, what their food would
be like and found the atmosphere and the prime rib dinners very
satisfying. Mom did not recognize it, due to its internal changes
but the outside, she had exclaimed,
“Dad painted this in acrylics, didn’t he?”
It was one of the many paintings my Dad had decorated the house
with, before my brother started to paint ‘real art.’
My brothers had said the twist that had produced pain and a
slight limp, would be ‘just fine,’ only a muscle strain and
not even a bruise on Easter, when I was with her in the
bathroom, looking at Mom’s leg.
I had sent cards, reminding her to use a heating pad. I had
added another suggestion to alternate with a bag of frozen peas,
and ‘Make sure you elevate it!’
When I had to leave on Easter, she had reassured me that she would
be okay and I hugged and kissed her. I always am torn between seeing
my grandchildren and children, and the possibility that Mom may be
not as well the next time I go up there.
As I was leaving, she told me she was not used to putting her feet up
to relax on her sofa. There is a nice, soft ottoman that is part of
her living room set.
Then, recently, I was filled with some trepidation, when my brother
called during a work day. He had left a message saying he had called
an ambulance, met my Mom at the hospital.
She ended up staying the three days, that allows to have her Medicaid
‘kick in,’ along with having a battery of tests. Not many medications,
not really any results.
They did not understand why she was ‘lethargic’ and rather
‘non-responsive’ but once the I.V’s kicked in, she had ‘rallied,’
was renewed and ‘herself’ again.
I should be grateful for small mercies, knowing that she could have
had something more seriously wrong. There is a knot by her knee,
that is healing. She will have ten days of therapy, visiting in
her senior living apartment.
I talked to Mom for an hour this week, she shared with me a sort of
funny explanation. She knew my brother was coming to get her for
dinner, she had fallen asleep taking a nap. She was wearing a t-shirt
and underwear. When the knock at the door came, she had called out,
My brother had answered, so she thought the quickest way to get to the
door was to ‘crawl.’ This is her explanation of what she did.
Yup, Mom crawled to the door to greet my brother, on her knees.
That ‘set off alarms, in my mind,’ too!
My brother said,
“It’s locked, Mom!”
“I’m on my way, just a minute!”
She stretched and unlocked the door, remaining on all fours.
He looked at her, then looked at her dog, Nicki, who was sitting
I am sure this was quite a shock to his system!
Nicki usually is nervous when people come in, ‘whimpering.’ Even
familiar people and family members. Mom moved to a chair, climbing
on it to sit down.
Anyway, with much reassurances that she was fine, he called
downstairs and found that my very polite mother had received
three days in a row, calls from the front desk, asking if
she was ‘all right.’
Each time, my Mom had said “I’m fine, thank you,” hanging up.
They did not ask why she didn’t go to the dining room nor did
they offer to send her up a dinner. This will be discussed in
the later part of June, when my brother can be there, along
with staff and the social worker. The ‘protocol’ was told to
us, that if someone did not come to the dining room, (without
cancelling their dinner, as sometimes people do to eat out with
their family) they would send someone up to check on them.
This is why my brother my Mom had appeared lethargic, almost
comatose and delusional! She probably had eaten a tablespoon of
peanut butter and endless cups of coffee. She is not one to
convince easily to use the microwaveable meals and other food
items that we put in her refrigerator.
By the way, Mom’s little dog is staying with her ‘sister’ who
is a half dachshund and half beagle, nine years younger, her big
brother, Hamlet, who is a golden retriever and her huge sister,
Fiona, who is a Newfoundland, at my brother and sister in law’s
house, across the street.
My brother and sister in law, are heading this weekend to Bethany
Beach, Maryland. They will be taking the big dogs, Hamlet and Fiona,
leaving the little ones, Nicki (my Mom’s shih tzu) and her other
one, she had to give up to move into the senior apt., Bella for
my brother to watch, take care of and feed. I look forward to his
coming over after he works, plays volleyball or tennis, along with
his other activities. I picked up a few movies, older ones for Mom
and I to watch and action ones where the three of us will watch.
I am filled with less trepidation, just sadness, because I am
not sure how Mom will “be” over the weekend. I had sent a couple
of “Get Well” cards this week. Unless she made it to the mail box
she knows from my big letters on her white board on the kitchen
wall and her calendar over the sink, “Robin will be here for
Memorial Day weekend, on May 23- May 26.”
I saved the rather amusing “Mom’s version of what happened before
she got taken in the ambulance” for you to possibly chuckle at!
In her recounting of the crazy, cuckoo, some would say, “Did you
lose some of your marbles?” moments, I gathered that she was not,
in the least, embarrassed about her state of undress, when greeting
By showing a fine sense of humor, she had told me, ‘right off
“Hello, Robin! I am fine, I was in the hospital and got a few
meals along with tests. I hate to tell you this, but I would
not have passed the ‘dining room dress code’ the other day,
when your brother came to get me to take me out to dinner! I
had no pants on!”
Last summer, the signs to enter the dining room had first said,
“No shorts allowed in the Dining Room.”
I had inquired of the seating hostess, “Why did this happen? Surely,
no one would wear ‘short shorts’ in the dining room.”
I had ‘capri shorts’ on which ‘passed inspection’ for dining that
She had leaned over and whispered to me,
“A few gentlemen came to the dining room wearing boxer shorts!”
She had added in a rather horrified tone,
“And one’s overlapped fly, didn’t exactly overlap!”
Later last summer, 2013, apparently someone had come in their
bathrobe to dinner!
A new sign had been posted upon my next monthly visit:
“Proper Attire Required in the Dining Room.
No pajamas, robes, boxer shorts or otherwise
bed clothes allowed.
Men and women must wear pants.”
I laughed (back then) when it had become such a wild and long
list, almost like the silly Jean Kerr’s “Please Don’t Eat the
Daisies” book where she had forgotten to tell the children in
the New York apartment that request.
I had stopped worrying about my Mom’s mental state when she made
that joke about proper dining room apparel. But, when she said
she wanted to ‘do all the things we usually do, like go to the
grocery store and eat out, at least twice!’ I had become rather
concerned. Hopefully, she and her walker will be just fine and
we will have a grand old time up in Cleveland, ‘tooling around
like we usually do!’
Hope you all have a happy Memorial Day!
Hope there are lots of good times with family or friends.
A few moments of meditation and memories for loved ones, too.
Enjoy your three-day weekend!
May it be safe and peaceful.