Saturday, October 31, 2009

Like a Kid on a New Bicycle

Took my bike to get tuned up today and got a bunch of gizmos put on too. I could have installed every one of them myself, but I am mechanically challenged enough that I would screw something up. The shop charged me next to nothing for the installation and I figure I helped their economy a little by letting them do it. The main thing was getting new tires. My old tires are mountain tires and I never rode this or any bike through actual mountains. The closest I ever came to that was when I used to ride my bike around the paved bike path at Lake Peru. There is one hill that you have to climb if you want to do the whole loop, but I always walked my bike up and down that.

I almost got a new helmet, but thought I'd stick with my old one for awhile.

I miss the days when I would ride without a helmet, the wind blowing through my hair--but these days, wearing a helmet is pretty important around here.

So I go to a nearby Starbuck's (I know, again) and sat and did a couple of crossword puzzles and graded a few papers.

As I walked in I found a familiar scene. It was like watching myself or an actor playing myself and an elderly woman playing my mother.

Parkinson's Disease.

A middle-aged man sitting with his elderly mother, drinking coffee and eating pastries in silence. She had the sad, drawn face my mother often wore--a symptom of Parkinson's. She was dressed up to go out--sometimes Mom would do this for the simplest trips, usually to go to the doctor.

So they sat in silence, mostly. An occasional word--the son trying to get his mother to talk. After about 20 minutes, they got up, he said "thank-you" to the barrista and headed for the door, his mother walking slowly behind him with a walker.

It reminded me of a time when I took Mom on an errand--again, probably a doctor visit. She still lived in her house at the time, but it had become more difficult. Her world had shrunk to three tiny spaces: Her bedroom, her den, and her bathroom.

Her hallways had become long journeys from one point to the next. It could take her ten minutes to get from her bedroom to her chair in the den. It could take her that long or longer to get to the bathroom when she needed to get there. And, of course, there was the trip back to her bedroom at night.

And transferring from her wheelchair took that much time as well.

She used to like to like to travel, when she was able.

A friend from her church gave her an electric wheelchair that had belonged to their mother, and that made things easier.

When we'd visit for Sunday dinner, we'd end the night by taking her to her room and setting her up so the transition from wheel chair to bed would be easy. When that became too difficult, we'd help her into bed. She would watch TV until she dozed off.

At that point, we had visiting caregivers who would help her in and out of bed during the week. But they were expensive and we could only afford a few hours a day. Eventually, of course, we had to put her in assisted living.

But back to our errand: On our way home, she asked if I would take her to Starbuck's. We went through the drive-thru window. I had asked her if she wanted to go inside, but she said she wanted to stay in the car.

We parked and she asked me to roll down the windows so she could feel the breeze. I realized that, at this point, she could no longer go outside on her own and just wanted that breeze while she was out of the house.

So we sat in silence. Once she muttered "That feels so good."

After that, when on errands, I'd ask her if she wanted to stop somewhere on the way home. And we'd sometimes go inside--but sometimes we'd stay outside with the windows down, sitting in silence as the breeze blew through my mother's hair.


Anonymous said...

You know, as difficult as it all was at times, you have some great last days with Mom memories. That's nice.

VO said...

How come you got Starbucks and I got Bakers?