I try to get to the nursing home about five to six days a week and I always come at meal time. There is nothing to discuss besides food and how sleepy she is. She calls me a "Deah" and a "Dahlin" (this is Boston, after all) and some days I think she knows I'm her youngest daughter, but most days I think she thinks I'm a REALLY attentive aide. "Why are you so good to me?" she asks at least twice a week. "Because you're my Mama and I'm your baby girl!" I reply. The answer is usually, "Well, I'll be damned!"
Watching her fade away a little at a time is strange. I still have my mother, but I don't. There has to be a bubble of protection around me when I visit or the sadness will crush me like a bug. She had her hip repaired, but has been in a wheelchair since January of 2011 because she's too afraid of falling. She has gone from regular meals to ground food, to puree. I ask sweetly which lump she'd like to taste first, the green one, the beige one, or the white one? Sometimes there's gravy. None of it looks appealing. She takes a mouse-sized nibble of each and then announces that she's full. She has been on a gastric feeding tube overnight for a long time. The coughing is starting, even though I always remember to put the thickener in her coffee. She always wants her coffee. They tell me that once she forgets how to swallow (and it's coming) they will rely on the gastric tube for all her nutrition, and then eventually her body won't be able to process that either.
Knowing what to pray for is getting more difficult. I feel guilty if I want the end to come more quickly. Part of me really doesn't want to be an orphan, even if I am 60. But she doesn't participate in the music, or the "activities", because she is legally blind along with everything else. It doesn't seem fair to pray that she hang on for this life. The next one is bound to be an improvement and she deserves the rest. For the moment, I'm glad that she is not in pain, either physical or emotional, and that she has no clue that she is in a nursing home. Because if she ever figured it out it would kill us both.