I spoke to my folks this afternoon. Speaking to them (and my sister) is a nearly daily occurrence. My mom sounded great.
For the past few years my mom’s health has deteriorated. Not only was she physically infirm, she began to check out mentally.
At her lowest point she was down to single word answers. She had retreated into her own shell.
“I love you mommy,” I’d say to end conversations. No response.
That was tough.
We are an emotional family. She’d lost all emotion. It was as if my mom had been hollowed out.
Last fall, just as the cold was settling into Milwaukee and South Florida’s humidity began to retreat, my parents moved north. My sister and her family live there. She found them an assisted living facility nearby.
It was not a happy move. They were leaving a place of comfort (and warmth) and moving to a strange land with winter!
Sometimes there are no good choices.
Moving to Milwaukee and assisted living meant they’d have to go downstairs a few times a day for meals. In Florida they seldom left their condo. That might have been the catalyst.
My mom began to communicate more. Not much, but you take what you can get.
At this weekend’s wedding my mom was as sharp and happy as I’d seen her in a very long time–maybe a few years. She smiled and laughed. She had extended conversations. I got her a glass of wine with a straw.
Today my niece Jessie stopped by to visit. She brought Judah and Gabby, their great-grandchildren.
When I called that was all my folks could talk about. The visit was short. The impact is great. Jessie understands that. She made a mitzvah¹.
On the phone my mom was stronger and happier than even this weekend! It usually doesn’t move in that direction in your mid-80s.
Don’t get me wrong, my mom is in a wheelchair. She is taking physical therapy and using her walker within the apartment–sometimes. I think she sees positive results from the PT and wants more, but she’s a long way from being mobile.
My mom is not as sharp as she once was. Sometimes she forgets things. But year-to-year the improvement is nothing less than miraculous.
None of us expected this turn. Our family is very happy. We never gave up.
This is our reward.
¹ in Hebrew, “mitzvah” means a commandment of the Jewish law or meritorious or charitable act. It’s commonly used when someone selflessly does a good deed.