The crying is more intense, yet shorter in duration. Once Mom recognizes me as me, she starts shaking and crying, sobbing, “My baby, my baby.” I hug her and hold her tight and murmur, “It’s okay, Mom, it’s okay.” This display of emotion lasts for about 30 seconds, and then she pulls back, her hazel eyes staring up into my brown ones, her gripping my shoulders, and very seriously she says, “Is it okay? Can we go?” I nod and she says, “Really? Really?” I nod again. Her whole demeanor changes when we’re getting ready to go out (which at this time of the year involves two layers of pants, three layers of tops, a heavy coat, scarf, hat, mittens and earmuffs). She is transformed from a zombie, wandering around aimlessly and staring into space, to an excited 81 year old lady. Conflicting emotions arise in me, all of which are true, all at once. I love seeing her happy, even if just for a brief moment. I wonder (again. Again, again, and again.) if I made the right decision to move her to a facility. Guilt, over the times I’m not there. Thankful for the time we can spend together.
It’s Christmas Eve and all of our regular restaurants are closed. We go to a hip restaurant downtown. As we sit down, I notice how busy it is and make the decision to order an easy appetizer, hummus, so that Mom has something to snack on while our sandwiches are being prepared. Mom is not patient. As soon as we get settled, and she wants to know where our food is. Thankfully, the hummus arrives quickly. The waitress places it in the middle of the table and gives each of us a share plate. Mom pushes the share plate to the side, pulls the hummus platter towards her, and asks me if I’m going to eat. I can only laugh. I tell her my food is coming as she snacks on celery and carrots and pita and hummus. The waitress eyes us quizzically as she sees the platter in front of Mom, but doesn’t say anything. Again, all the conflicting emotions are all true, all at once. Thankful that we are here together. Bemused that she’s forgotten the concept of sharing. Sad that I am now the caretaker and she is the care-ee. Anxious wondering how many more of these moments we’ll have together. And grateful, oh so grateful.