Sunday, March 18, 2012

Amazing Grace

I'm long overdue with a post about my mother since placing her in a nursing home 1 year ago. I've made a few attempts, but my life has changed so drastically as a result of not being her sole caregiver that I keep veering off and yammering about myself.

I'll try to keep me out of it, then, and tell you: Mom is healthy and happy, and I couldn't ask for a better facility than Champaign County Nursing Home. She is healthy and safe, and loved.

Her condition has continued to deteriorate. I don't believe she knows my name, but she knows very well who I am, gasping each time I walk into her sight, and exclaiming "oh, I am so HAPPY you are here."

Interesting is that she remembers, full well, Clint's name; she is quite enamored with him. I think it's because I speak of him, and close each visit by asking her what I should fix Clint for dinner. The answer, after some thought, is always "bacon."

In general, we walk, and we sing, and she tells me she will give me fifty thousand dollars. Over and over, this is our routine. Amazing Grace, we still sing, along with Jesus Loves me.

Amazing Grace is...what we have left.

I am, like she was, when she was cognizant, shy about raising my voice. And yet, I walk the halls with her, singing Amazing Grace, for every passerby to hear. I can do it when I am alone with her, but I've found that if friends or family join us, I tend to step outside and look at our overall picture, and the song buckles me.

One of my best childhood friends, who lived down the street and around the corner, has placed her  mother, also, in the Alzheimer's wing of CCNH. When I visit my mother, I visit hers. I stop every time to tell her, "Hi Eva, I'm friends with your daughter, Nancy. I used to spend the night at your house." She always, lovingly, tells me, "thank you for telling me that."

Likewise, Nancy, who lives 90 miles away, lets me know when she has spoken to my mother. She brought her granddaughter to visit her mother yesterday, and sent me this message:
I saw your mama yesterday, I was holding Stella (she was asleep), I said "hi, Eleanor"' she said "looks like you have a baby," I said "yes, she's tired" then your mom said "you know what?" and she started singing Amazing Grace, she sang the first line, then I sang the second back to her, (of course tears in my eyes) then I told her I would see her later.
Sigh. This ol' world. If I hadn't promised not to make this post about myself, I'd tell you all about how much I love my mother, and how much I love Eva, and how much Nancy's singing with  my mother just about brings me to my knees. Who would have thought, when we were mucking through 4th grade together, that we would be here?

But this is an update about Mom, remember? I love her with all my heart, and ache if I haven't seen her for a few days. And I imagine "Amazing Grace" will pretty much take my breath away for the rest of my life.

She turned 70 on February 22.