Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Getting On With Life

Friday we stayed in bed until almost nine. Mom ate a normal breakfast in the kitchen in her wheelchair and was sponge-bathed by the home health aide. I enjoyed getting out by myself for a few hours to shop for supplies while Saul caught up with computer work and Mom napped. I spent hundreds of dollars putting in supplies for the long haul as my freedom to go shopping at the drop of a hat will probably be limited in the future. My siege mentality always kicks in at times like these and I have to say that usually I make pretty good choices.

When I returned home, Jamie had stopped in for a visit and lunch, having been in the neighborhood earlier to see her holistic doctor, Susan D. Yatsky. I enjoyed spending the afternoon preparing Shabbat dinner and we were visited by Rabbi Tsurah August from the hospice service just as I was completing my challah dough. She made a comment about needing to say a shehecheyanu because it was the first time she had visited a home on Friday afternoon where a challah was being made. How sad! We wheeled Mom to the kitchen table and sat with Rabbi Tsurah to describe the circumstances that had brought us to this point. Then, we all held hands around the kitchen table while the Rabbi said a mishaberach. She was warm and friendly and extremely poised. There was not one awkward moment in the half-hour she spent with us, no small feat under the circumstances. Jessica arrived with Izzy in time for her to shape her own small round challah and paint the other four small rounds with egg and sugar glaze. For the first time in many years, we forgot to sprinkle them with sesame seeds and Beth commented that she liked the glaze better that way. Shabbat dinner was homemade chicken soup with homemade kreplach and matzoh balls, chicken paprikash, kasha and bow tie noodles, steamed cauliflower, sauteed portabello and maitaki mushrooms, Israeli salad, and peaches and strawberries dipped in individual bowls of warm chocolate for dessert.
Mom joined us for dinner. I was so exhausted after dinner that, after putting Izzy to bed, I excused myself from Jessica and Beth, who had cleaned up the kitchen, and went right to sleep.

Saturday morning, Izzy knocked on our bedroom door at 6:15 a.m., but Saul sent her off to her mother's room to watch cartoons in bed for a while. Having gone to bed early, I was up and making Izzy breakfast by 7:30 a.m. At 8:30, I woke everyone else to see if they were going to synagogue. Saul and Jess decided to go, but Izzy wanted to stay home and play. The novelty of having everything to herself (including me) without her sister around was irresistible. Ken and Randi stopped over with a container of cubed watermelon heart from Wegman's for Mom. He, Mom and Izzy took turns sharing them before they had to leave to prepare for some afternoon company and babysit Haley and Erik's new puppy, Ziggy. Ari arrived just after Saul and Jess returned home and, along with Beth, we all had leftovers for lunch. Earlier in the morning, Adele had agreed to come and stay with Mom for the afternoon, so I was able to accompany Saul, Jess, Ari and Izzy on their visit to Lion's Gate to visit Saul's Mom. We were caught in a huge traffic jam on the way there and the journey took two hours. G.G. Sima again was delighted to see us and seemed to know who we all were this time. We commented that her nails were beautifully manicured. Jessica had noticed that the artificial silk orchid plant right outside her room had been watered with a bottle of Deer Park that was sitting next to it. When we mentioned it to the aide as we were leaving, she nodded and said that Sima gets up in the wee hours, looks for things to do and is very helpful to all the aides. She used to get up at 4:00 a.m. every morning to manage a bakery for most of her adult life. She was always a terrific cook. I learned how to cook and bake from her. She kept a number of houseplants and helped Saul's father with the garden in the summer. I fear that most of the activities that once made her feel useful have vanished from her sheltered life at Lion's Gate. My fervent wish for my own life is that I am always the one to care for others rather than be cared for myself. On the way home, which was again clogged with traffic, we stopped at King Buffet in Plymouth Meeting Mall for dinner to have miso soup and sushi. I left Ari and Jessica watching television to go off to bed early again. I worked on the Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle before falling asleep and found it to be a particularly difficult one having to do with puns.

Sunday morning I arose early again, gave Izzy breakfast, cleaned up the messes from the previous day, and finished the crossword puzzle with some help from Saul and Ari. Saul, Jess and Ari also had awakened reasonably early. Ari and Jess went out to the garage to clean up and load our full-size freezer into her SUV. I haven't used it since our Passover seders have moved to Jess and Alex's home in Baltimore two years ago. Then, Jess prepared herself to go to a wedding shower for local friends and left. About two hours later, Ari left with Izzy to babysit for Jess and Alex in Baltimore for the evening. Saul and I reached Beth's currently-unemployed friend, Candi, and much to our delight, she agreed to stay with Mom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. so that we can go out together. She also agreed to stay with Mom this weekend so that we can visit the kids in Baltimore/Washington. I hope this arrangement works out well because it will provide needed income for Candi while she searches for employment and will also give us the leeway to get away together for periods of time and occasional brief vacations.

Mom seems to be growing a bit stronger now each day, although there are still some daily rocky periods and she is sleeping for many hours. At least the horrible swift downward spiral she was experiencing seems to have abated. Yesterday, I wheeled her from her bedroom out onto the deck and we sat quietly for two hours enjoying the beautiful blue sky and temperate weather until Saul returned from school at 4:00 p.m. I asked for the return of the physical therapist and she will be here today. Mom seems willing to push herself more for Sue than she does for us. Like caring for a baby, we worry about whether we are spoiling her, or whether we should push her harder to care for herself. In the meantime, I am awaiting Candi's arrival at 3:00 p.m. and looking forward to my afternoon out with Saul.

1 comment:

Ari said...

I think you were having an issue finding a link for מי שברך because you phonetic spelling is off. It's pronounced more "she" or "sheh" than it is "sha," which is a prefix for "that." I think the literal translation would be something like "That who blessed."

In any case, I ran a search this morning and found a pretty good summary here: