So I went back to the nursing home on Wednesday. I dropped by Starbucks and bought a bunch of $10 cards and handwrote some thank you notes for the caregivers. Just the ones who were there for her the longest. It’s funny, I had no idea of how ingrained a pattern it was to go to that one door and know she was there. She was usually facing the window and her head would turn at the sound of my voice and as she turned her head I could see her eyes widening as she recognized my face.
I managed to have a short conversation with one staff person in particular that I was really fond of. She did understand how hard it was for me to come back. I did tear up a bit. I managed to show her pictures from my mum’s memorial site. It was nice and we had a nice chat. I came back again on Friday (of course, I had forgotten to write a note to one particularly thoughtful care aide ) but I brought a gift basket and gave it to the same leisure staff member to share. She told me of a story where a care aide had tried to comfort my mum who was crying. She told her to repeat “Viakru” (not sure I think it was a Hindi word,it was something like that) and mum went down the long hallway yelling “Viagra! Viagra, Viagra!”. It was great to share a laugh. It was so nice to share that time with people who had cared for her. I don’t know how they do it, but one woman just told she prayed a lot because it was all she could do.
I think next spring I will donate a rose bush to be planted in her name in the garden.
My sister is taking Mum’s keepsake to see her father-in-law in New Orleans. I guess Mum’s funeral made her husband want to go see his aging dad. Mum always wanted to go to the French Quarter. Mum was never shy about meeting strangers, she’d talk to anybody, she’d sing at the drop of a hat. I asked my sister to send me the recording of my mum singing as soon as she could. I really miss her voice. I think it’s starting to really hit me now. Heheh, just as 8 people are about to descend on my house for Christmas…oh boy.
I haven’t been back to speak to anyone at the nursing home since Mum died. I dropped off a letter regarding donating her wheelchair and a notice of her funeral but I didn’t personally invite anyone (no one came anyway, but I suppose if they went to every funeral of all the residents who died, they’d be busy every weekend). That’s not like me. But I was moving at the speed of light and frankly I haven’t really stopped to consider much until now. I guess cause it’s not like I can go to her room and just sit there. Someone else is there. It’s not a great place to visit. My place there was to be with her. She was on a locked floor where you had to key in a code to get off on that floor. It’s not like the residents on that floor knew my name. They shuffle about like zombies, the new ones trying to get off the floor or they think you’re staff. Just thinking about it makes me hyperventilate a bit.
I think I’ll go back today. But the staff know me, they’ve grown attached to my son. I actually do care about them. I just feel out of place there without Mum. I have no idea of how to thank the care staff who took care of her for so many years. A note? A Starbucks card? It seems so insufficient. Any suggestions?
People have told me stories about their loved ones leaving them a sign after they pass. Even my sister sent me a picture that she took of an flooding kitchen sink (in the middle of the night) that contained an image reflected in the faucet. One of her taking the picture and right beside her a figure that she says is Mum. I saw it, and uh, well, I could understand why she said that.
So where was my sign? In my eulogy, I talked about how Mum would send me care packages in the mail when I moved away. She’d send lemons, potatoes, dried cod fish, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, a half bag of rice, little dairy creamers that inevitably leaked all over the potatoes and created a soggy, leaky mess that I had to retrieve from the post office. Also she would include change for laundry, maybe $5 or so. I never asked her money, but somehow she always knew when I really needed it. Well, about a week after Mum died, I discovered that she left me a rather large amount of money as the beneficiary of her life insurance. I sent in her death certificate, figuring it would take weeks and weeks for it to arrive. In the meanwhile, I was owed a huge cheque from a client whose business suddenly disappeared, I typed rush jobs until 3am, I got a small gig, but hubby’s work was drying up for the month and we were wondering how we would get through the next couple of months never mind Christmas.
The cheque arrived last week. Now it’s not enough to get us out of debt or even close to it, but let’s just say, it’s going to be a very, merry Christmas.