Two weekends in a row, due to first car trouble and then illness, I’ve had little to no time to spend with my mom. But we made up for it yesterday! It started like a typical Sunday. I took her to church, which she particularly enjoyed after a three week absence, and then out for brunch at a new-to-us restaurant.
Mom ordered a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream. Putting butter on the waffle was serious and messy business, as she had to keep moving the strawberries with her fingers to get the butter evenly distributed. I kept waiting for her to dip her sleeve in the whipped cream. When she took her first bite, she made a face and said “These strawberries are sour.” After liberally dousing the waffle with syrup, she dug in and seemed to enjoy it… but after 1/4 of the waffle and 2 cups of coffee loaded with creamer, she was done. It’s no wonder she’s still losing weight. In the time it took her to eat that small amount of food, I polished off two pancakes, two scrambled eggs and two strips of bacon.
She was tired at brunch and not very talkative. She told me she hadn’t slept well. I’d been telling her all week about the free concert in the park that my friend and I wanted to take her to on Sunday, but when I mentioned it at brunch she said she didn’t know if she would be feeling up to it. When I brought her home, I suggested that she take a nap and she readily agreed. I kissed her goodbye and told her I would call in a couple of hours. Luckily, she had a good nap and the extra sleep revived her. When I called at 3:30, she was perky and enthusiastic about going to the concert.
It was a good thing she got some rest because it ended up being a pretty big outing for her. I picked her up at 4:15, to be sure to get her out of the house before dinner time. We stopped at Panera Bread on the way to get sandwiches and iced tea for our picnic dinner, then headed for the park where my friend was already waiting with chairs set up in the shade of a big umbrella. Not long ago, just the trip to Panera might have worn Mom out, and I was a little concerned about whether she’d last through the concert, which didn’t even start until 6:00. She only picked at her half sandwich, eating the turkey and a little bit of avocado out of it and leaving the rest, so for the rest of the evening I kept offering her a few more potato chips or another bite of blueberry scone. She was fascinated by the shaved ice truck and asked me to go get her a small one. When I came back with a cup filled with shaved ice liberally doused with strawberry syrup, she looked confused and said that wasn’t what she was expecting… but she enjoyed it anyway and finished every last drop.
She enjoyed the Jack Lantz Big Band very much, tapping her toes and waving her hands in time to the music. When that music was popular, my mom was a dance instructor at Arthur Murray. That’s how she met my dad, who came to take lessons. I grew up hearing those songs coming from the three foot tall speakers in my dad’s stereo cabinet, and I can remember coming downstairs and seeing my folks waltzing in the living room. They could still cut a rug at family weddings well into their seventies. She tried to teach me ballroom dancing when I was a teenager, but I had no patience for learning the steps. Now I wish I had let her teach me while she could.
When the band took a break, Mom said she would like to get up and stretch her legs. We set out at a snail’s pace, her walker difficult to maneuver over the uneven dirt path through the park. Mom enjoyed seeing all the people, especially the small children climbing on the playground equipment or playing catch. She smiled at everyone we passed. To my surprise, she made it all the way to the far end of the park before she had to sit down.
We were close to the restrooms, so I suggested we stop and use them after she’d rested. She didn’t think she needed to go, but agreed — and thank goodness, because she DID need to stop. Helping her in the bathroom is something I’m still getting used to, and it was especially tricky in a park facility with dirty concrete floors and insufficient toilet paper. I made a mental note to start carrying baby wipes. Honestly, I probably should just get a diaper bag. I’m sure I could find one that doesn’t LOOK like a diaper bag.
She made the return walk, all the way across the park to our chairs, without stopping once. I’ve been noticing lately that she seems more steady on her feet and her gate has improved; she doesn’t shuffle as much. I think the Sinemet (the Parkinson’s drug the neurologist prescribed) is really helping now that she’s titrated up to a therapeutic dose. She sank gratefully into her chair and propped her feet up when we got back, happy to relax and listen to the music. But when the band finished, she asked if we could go down to the stage and tell them how much we enjoyed their performance — and another walk didn’t faze her in the least. I was really impressed!
It was dusk by the time we packed up and got on our way, and Mom and I were both yawning on the drive home. “That was an adventure!” she exclaimed happily. “Thank you for taking me.”
My pleasure, Mom. Truly.