Parental Journal 118 from Planet Elderly: The Visit that Wasn’t

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 – late morning

I thought it was a bit odd when I received an email telling me that in-person “chatterbox” visits would resume. I was happy, but then I thought, wait a minute. Our COVID case numbers are going up…here and in lots of other places in the U.S. Maybe it’s because we are close to Christmas and they think things are okay enough for residents to visit with family and friends.

So I got myself on the schedule to visit with Mom at 1 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays. I picked up a small bouquet of yellow carnations on my way over to see her Monday, and shortly after I arrived, the health services coordinator came out to tell me she had just been informed that Mom’s community could NOT have visitors. She was very sorry. I said, “I totally understand,” and I did. The number of cases in our area has gone up too much, so to keep everyone safe, Lenoir administrators gave orders to cancel chatterbox visits. I gave her the bouquet to give to Mom.

What surprised me when I turned to exit the building is that my eyes teared up. I fought back the tears all the way home. I miss her so much, and I feel like her cognition is fading away faster than I realize, and I’m not there to hold her hand or make her laugh.

I know Mom can’t say sentences longer than three or four words anymore, but I was looking forward to seeing her surprised to see me…smiling…and then watching her glance around, sort of following me as I chat about this and that. That’s become the norm during our plexiglass chatterbox visits. But there was no visit Monday.

Although I won’t be able to see her for a while, I know she is safe and well cared for. With her advancing dementia, she is pretty much unaware of what’s going on. She probably continues eavesdropping to the conversations around her…watching people come and go…drifting off for naps…joining in on some activities…participating in music events…and enjoying her lunches and dinners. I imagine she is still a night owl and thus sleeps past the breakfast serving time most days. And I know she is not always nice to staff when she is irritated about something.

I also assume that she probably doesn’t think about me much because she can’t remember things. But when staff tell her, “Pearl, you have a visitor. Jeanette is here to see you,” she then knows me as her daughter and realizes she hasn’t seen me for a while. She is always happy to see me, and I am always delighted to see her smile of recognition.

Don’t have any idea of when we will be able to visit next, but that’s okay. I’m going to repost here one of my favorite photos of her taken in August 2019. I have a copy on my fridge. It makes me smile.

About jjmummert

This blog was originally titled "Drifting Toward Planet Elderly," and it shared a journey I had with my elderly parents as they both finished their lives battling the complexities of dementia. After both passed on, I changed the title to "Living on Planet Elderly." I am a retiree who is reluctantly adjusting to the reality that she is now elderly. In July of 2021, I relocated to Middleton WI after living in Columbia MO for over 40 years. I decided that I want to experience a new and vibrant location in a cooler climate with lakes...a bucket list item of mine. I have a first cousin who lives in Madison. We have nice childhood memories, and I thought it would be wonderful to spend some time together as elders. It was. AND March 2023, I returned to Columbia. I had a wonderful time experiencing the Madison area of Wisconsin, spending time with my cousin, and making some wonderful friends. No regrets.
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