Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Christmas with Mom

It wasn't fun, but I'm glad I was there.

Everyone in Billy C's family was sick with that thing that was going around last year and they didn't want to expose any residents at Mom's assisted living facility, so they stayed home.

My gift to Mom was my time--money being tight, that's all I had.

So I drove through the pouring rain to Rubydoo to see her. Getting off the off-ramp, I was surprised by homeless guy sitting at the curb, holding his sign "Merry Christmas, anything will help" and scowling as the cars drove by. Also, another man stood on the island in the middle of the road, holding a sign advertising a local taco shop open for business nearby.

At Mom's, I put on a new DVD I had of the Soweto Gospel Choir for Mom to watch. I thought she'd like it more than she did. But she may have also been sad that day and, therefore, a little unresponsive.

While she watched and I listened to the choir, I tried to help her clean up the clutter of her room. She was wheelchair-bound and couldn't do much, so I did what I could and made a little more room for her.

The plan for the day was to see a movie and go out to dinner, so an attendant came and got her ready, giving her a bath and getting her dressed, while I repeatedly watched this one song that I liked on the DVD. The Soweto Gospel Choir sometimes does this weird harmonic thing where several people sing the same song at different times but somehow make it stick together. It's not exactly a round. I'm not sure what they called it. But I played this song many times because I just liked it a lot.

The rain came down hard and I hoped it wouldn't work against me. The food at this place wasn't so bad, but I didn't want to spend Christmas Day in an almost empty dining hall with silent old people who had no one to come get them. I wanted to get Mom out for a few hours.

I parked the car in the covered parking area and helped Mom get in the car, hoping that the rain would let up by the time we got to the Plaza, where we would be seeing the movie and having dinner. As we came out to the car, we had to pass a coroner's truck with a recently deceased person in a body bag waiting to be loaded up. I had noticed that someone might have died while going back and forth to Mom's room earlier.

We drove to the the Plaza and yes, the rain let up. But it was still cold as Hell.

First, I parked close to the theater and took Mom in to see "Doubt." A good film--but every few minutes, Mom would go "psssst" and ask me what had just happened. Now Mom couldn't hear very well, so, when I'd tell her what had just happened, I'd usually have to repeat it again. Louder. While other people tried to watch the movie.

After the film, we walked to the Mexican restaurant at the other end of the Plaza. The rain had stopped but a post-fog mist had settled around the shops and the cold bit at our faces. On our way, we ran into two teacher friends of mine, a couple, who were on their way to see a movie. I introduced them to Mom who told them what we had just seen and began critiquing the film for them , there in the freezing, foggy cold.

At dinner, I gave her her meds. And, as she often did, she began to zone out. Still, we had a pretty good talk.

My second gift to her was the gift of light. It was around 10 at night, and, as she always did, Mom began to dictate how we should get home. But I, as we drove down Arlington, turned down the first of the Wood streets and tuned to a radio station playing Christmas music.

"What are you doing?" she crabbed.

"I wanna show you something," I replied.

And there was the beginning of the Christmas lights. "Ooooh," she said.

And, except for the occasional "look at that house" or "those are pretty," we drove up and down the Wood streets, studying the light displays, filled with silent awe .

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