Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll contemplates WHEN YOU MUST GO HOME AGAIN. She writes:

Thomas Wolfe notwithstanding, sometimes one must go home again. On August 18, the little Thrifty Mama we discussed last week – 94-and-a-half and one of few residents in her Assisted Living facility not using a walker – decided to compete in the tumbling portion of the Olympics, Late, Late Senior Division. The corrupt French judge gave her only a “2” for not sticking the landing.

Okay, what actually happened of course, is that she experienced a bout of extreme vertigo from a nasty combo of inner ear issues and a sudden blood pressure drop and she fell. By the grace of God, this teeny little woman, who looks like she would break every bone in her body if she sat down hard, did not even fracture a bone. Milk at every meal, people! But she did sustain a brain bleed, an ugly eleven-inch laceration on her arm, and most impressive bruising. Her teeny arms looked like two long, thin eggplants.

I was called by the local ER and told that nothing could be done for her but “comfort care.” There’s a lovely way to start your day. My brother, the nurse, hightailed it from the Twin Cities up to St. Cloud where he had had her moved to avail us of neurosurgery services. The words, “Screw ‘comfort’!” may have been spoken. Fortunately, the bleed was “small” – ah, what a lovely word! – surgery was not necessary, and she was released in a few days, battered and confused, but very much alive. Feisty, even.

Meanwhile, I had cancelled a raft of appointments, sent Scott four columns, loaded up the car and had begun driving once again from Arizona to Minnesota. It isn’t nearly as fun when you are on a strict schedule as when you can meander and just enjoy the trip. And when you feel you must take a black dress and high heels just in case. Strangers of every race and color along the way encouraged me and told me they would be praying. Lord, I love this country!

I was able to stay for 15 days, cooking and caretaking. Daddy had mensched up pretty well at trying to do a few basic household tasks but was more than thrilled to turn those duties over to me. It is amazing how quickly the role reversal takes hold. A Mother who used to feed a picky toddler by saying, “Here comes the dumptruck,” now eats like a bird. Since child-rearing is a careful balance of threats and bribes, I offered to buy her all new clothes if she could get over 100 lbs. (Safe offer. Not gonna happen…) and threatened to go back to Arizona (RIGHT NOW!) if she didn’t eat ONE blueberry pancake! You gotta do what you gotta do. She ate. Two, even. And part of a third.

Mother attained a kind of celebrity. It is a sad fact that death is a constant companion in most assisted living facilities and nursing homes. You make a new friend; she dies a few months later. Someone goes away to the hospital and never returns. Mother’s return was tantamount to having that dog your mother said “went to a nice farm” come loping back down the street. Other residents surrounded her in awe, coming close to touching the hem of her garment.

So now she has a walker. She and Daddy do a hilarious version of Bumper Cars with the two walkers in their smallish apartment. You should see them when the phone rings. Even though it is a cordless phone, Heaven forfend you should take the phone to where you are. A phone belongs in a stationary position as God intended, and so that is where it will stay. Just get used to talking over the answering machine which comes on after the maximum number of rings.

Medicare does do an excellent job with rehab services for injured seniors. Sure it’s unsustainable, but for now it was a lifesaver. Being a lifelong Republican somewhere to the right of Ted Cruz, Mother feels guilty for even using these services and conspired to shuck them as quickly as she could. She refused Occupational Therapy for her hand. Classic take: “What do I need with an occupation at my age?”

Her laceration healed nicely as well and she is afraid she won’t even get a good scar out of it for sympathy and a conversation piece. I told her they probably sell fake scars at Spencers around Hallowe’en and that cheered her.

We dodged the bullet this time. We were able to have wonderful family time for Daddy’s 90th birthday which fell a couple weeks after the accident. Darn few people my age (late, late middle age, as you recall) still have two living parents. You rejoice, one day at a time, the way we all know we should live, even while keeping the black dress in the front of the closet. For those of you less lucky, my deepest sympathies, no matter how long it’s been.