Mom is so lonely but acknowledges that she is by nature reclusive and chooses not to participate in social gatherings at Merrill Gardens. She takes ownership of the problem to a large degree but hearing her talk about how isolated she feels makes me sad (and guilty). My time spent with Mom and Dad focuses on the essential needs; purchasing groceries and supplies, taking them to doctor and dentist appointments, hair appointments and the like. It feels like a part-time job much of the time and isn't very rewarding except in realizing that basic services are provided in a caring and loving manner. My energy and creativity can evaporate when I consider planning something "fun" outside of Merrill Gardens. If it isn't essential, I overlook the opportunity until I have a conversation like the one I had with Mom last night.
She remarked that she was lonely which is no surprise. I asked her, "What would you like to do, what would you really enjoy?" I've asked her this before but usually she avoids the question or just says she doesn't know. I was glad she had an answer for me and one that was so simple.
"Just to get out and see something would be nice.", she responded tentatively.
And so today, I thought of a tea and jewelry party here at home. After lunch Mom and I drove to Magnolia, remarking on the fall colors and the blustery weather. The hardest part was helping her up the twelve steps to our house but once inside we had a lovely time. I made a pot of tea and we had pumpkin cake with whipped cream. Sitting in the living room we were treated to a bit of sunshine flickering through the fall leaves outside and casting rays of light on the carpet. The cat ladled attention on Mom and she enjoyed his company remarking, "I've always loved a cat". How true.
We went through my jewelry box; I wanted her to see all the special pieces she has given me through the years. I had questions for her about the history of the various rings, bracelets and necklaces; lovely and cherished pieces that I am proud to own and will pass along eventually. She shared the stories again and filled in details I had forgotten. I'm now wearing an emerald ring that she gave me years ago which has been cooped up in that jewelry box for way too long. Mom reminded me that Dad had purchased a loose emerald when they lived in Aruba but never had it set until 1980. Mom says he surprised her with the emerald ring when she returned from her trip to China. "He must have really missed me while I was gone", she mused. The ring is set in gold, very delicate, and flanked by two tiny diamonds. I will wear it for awhile. I know she will enjoy seeing the ring on my finger.
After tea and jewelry talk we drove through Discovery Park. The military cemetery in the park is a special place for Mom; she used to walk there from her former Magnolia home and always enjoys the peaceful ambiance, especially in autumn when the large yellow maple leaves collect on the fertile earth and between the grave markers. Today was no exception. I enjoyed our afternoon and let go of worrying about prescription refills, flu shots, bills to pay, and scheduling appointments. Mom and I ignored all of that and spent very special time together, time that reminds me that my mother is still here; I just need to try a little harder to find her.