Thanksgiving at the Nursing Home

Jordyn, Ally, Lauren, me and Mom

Yesterday it was time for the Thanksgiving dinner at mom’s nursing home.  Invitations had gone out almost a month ago and I had RSVPed for Lauren, Ally, Jordyn, Kendyll and myself.  I had been telling mom about it for the last week.  However, last week she was convinced she was still in her condo in Denver and couldn’t understand how she was going to have room for all of us to come to dinner.  Then she worried about getting all the food made.  I would remind her each day that the dinner was coming up.  Each night as we went to dinner I would tell her and show her that this dining room would be where the Family Thanksgiving dinner would be.  Each day we would discuss it again.

Yesterday dawned clear and with the perfect weather that reminds you why you actually live in Texas.  Ally wanted to come down early and get some more of her riding for physical fitness done.  She rode Mickey, English this time, and did a great job.  It has been a long time since she rode the flat saddle but she was remembering and doing well.  She and Mickey even took a couple of small jumps.  (My secret goal is to get her back in the show ring so we will see how I do with that!)  Lauren was on Feather putting in a good ride.  Jordyn had done a couple of times around on Mickey but then I had bribed her to go pick rocks out of the new stall that Bruno would be moving into this week.  I told her I would give her a penny a rock.  Quickly, she told me she had 300 rocks.  I pointed out she could not count to 300.  She said ok, to just give her $5.  What a negotiator!

We got in from the riding and got ready for the dinner.  We got there early and found mom presiding over her own table in the nicely decorated dining hall.  Lots of families were coming in and it was great to see my favorite residents teamed up with their families.  It was sad that some of the residents  had no family to come be with them. I know that I am a new convert to the nursing home world.  I have not been at my mom’s side all those days in Denver when she was alone.  I guess I felt Jim was there but I know now it was not near enough.  One of the ladies who has always been so kind to Jordyn didn’t have anyone sitting at her table.  We asked her to join us.  She asked if we were sure it was not too crowded.  She had tears in her eyes as she joined us.  Ally looked at me and told me I was a better person for this experience with Nanny.  I told her there had been a lot of room for improvement. 

The student council from Boling High School was there to serve the food and took care of things courteously and promptly.  I thought the food was pretty good. Lauren thought they had emptied a truckload of Hungry Man turkey dinners and scooped them out on plates. But Mom was just so happy.  She kept looking around the table amazed to see us all there eating with her.  She said, “This is what you kept trying to tell me about, but I just couldn’t picture it.”  I reminded her that all of us will go to Ally’s on Thursday.  I think it will be a big day for her. 

We got back to my house in time to watch most of the Texan’s game especially because I swear it was the longest football game ever.  I could just hear my daddy saying, “If you want to be a Super Bowl Team, you gotta come ready to play every team, every time!”   What an emotional game with all the ups and downs.  By the final minutes, Ally and I were screaming and yelling with no regard to her sleeping baby or anything else. Nice win, Texans-don’t ever put us through that again!

The SATs and my mom

Momma today.

I remember wondering about this when I took the SATs (and yes, they had them way back when I was a student).  I also remember thinking about it when Amber was doing her SAT reviews.  You know, there are so many things we question the value of when we are learning.  Like those silly story problems in math, I found out those things do come up in real life,  Well, maybe not about two trains passing or whatever it was, but other things.

One of the things I remember well was the whole reading comprehension exercise.  I routinely scored well in this area.  I am sure there are several of you taking the SATs or ACTs and wondering what is the point of the little stories and the questions to follow.  Do you remember this?  Often you were given a quick story about a subject you knew nothing about and then were asked questions about it.  It was hard to follow the questions, often you wouldn’t even remember reading about that.  Likewise, what you might have thought was the subject of the exercise was not really the subject at all.

Here is my point.  Each day, I go to visit my mom.  She launches off on some story that I do not understand, that I do not follow nor does it seem to make any sense.  But thankfully, from my experiences in standardized testing, I am able to start with bare minimum facts and see a story emerge.  I look for little hints in the story to comprehend what we are talking about.  Yesterday, her story was all about going to dinner with some people.  I was able to listen for the little clues.  I picked up the words “Betty and Getty” who are her stepson and his wife in Denver.  Therefore, I knew she thought we were in Denver and that she anticipated going out for a nice dinner.  There is no point in telling her we are not in Denver or that Betty and Getty were not taking her out to dinner.  That just seems to confuse and confound her more.  Sometimes, she just flat does not believe me (obviously, I must be confused about where we are because clearly we are in Denver).  So, the best plan is just to tell her, no, not tonight momma.  Tonight we will eat here at this place.  This does not assure that she will accept this answer but after I repeat it multiple times, she goes along.

Next, she launched into asking what she should do.  Should she just wait and see what happens or do I have any suggestions for her?  I was not sure what she was referring to, but once again with my superior comprehension skills, I listened and waited for more information.  She asked, “Well, at our age, if we have a chance to be happy, shouldn’t we just go for it?”  I realized then that she was on the “Jim and I should get married track”.  Again, no point in explaining that she has been married for 15 years.  No point at all.  I told her (again) that Jim and Jay were coming to visit after Thanksgiving and she would see them then.  “Well”, she decided, “we will just see how that goes and make a decision later”.  Okay, I could go with that. 

Each day is a new opportunity to use those skills I learned years ago.  Each time I follow her story or her reasoning makes it easier for her to think I am following and supporting her thinking.  And we just thought all that test stuff was worthless.


Happy Halloween from Lexi, Amber, Ryan and Riley-all superheros to me!

Hope everyone had a great Halloween!  I love the new traditions of the neighborhoods (at least in the south) having impromptu parties, meeting up in the cul-de-sacs with food and drinks and just having family fun.  The area where Amber and Ryan live always seem to have a great combination of the traditional trick-n-treating along with getting to know new neighbors while re-affirming friendships with others.  I heard  many stories this morning of friends and families joining up  for safe and fun times.  I really believe this is one holiday that has gotten better over time. 

We did not really celebrate Halloween and did not get any trick or treaters out in the country where we live.  We were happy to be done with the hay, showered and in for the night.  This morning was warm and foggy with a heavy mist over the pastures and hay fields.  I didn’t spot any evidence of the dog pack and was THRILLED to see my Matt Cat and Boots (the neutered male {wouldn’t you want to be known as the ‘neutered male’?}) both back home this morning no worse for the time gone.  Matt had been gone several days but other than being hungry, seemed fine.  He is a totally black cat and was a nice post-Halloween surprise!

I didn’t see mom last night due to the hay gathering and she never does well when I miss a day.  She got the nursing home to call me multiple times today when I was work.  She told me that I had to get there to get her out of that place.  She was thinking she was still in Denver and had not moved yet.  When I got there she knew me immediately but was still thinking she was in Denver.  Mom was so glad I had come so far to see her and kept asking where Lauren was.  I told her Lauren had taken her boyfriend Blake to the doctor and hadn’t been able to come.  She was confused about that (if Lauren was with me in Denver then how did she get her boyfriend to the doctor?). 

One of her favorite nieces, Suzy, called while I was there.  It was great to see her face light up when I told her Suzy was on the phone.  Mom clearly remembered her.  But Suzy got a little confused when mom told her she was moving soon to be near me.  I will take mom knowing me and the family and being unsure about where she is-that is way better than knowing where she is and not knowing us.

The weather is good, the animals are safe, the hay is in for the winter and all is well in south Texas.  Thank you for riding along!