Thursday, August 4, 2016

Because You Had No Way Of Knowing What She Was REALLY Like

Dear Nursing Home Staff:

Let me start out right now by saying how grateful I am for the tender, attentive care you gave my mother during the four weeks she spent with you before peacefully passing away on July 10. I know it can't be easy to deal with the very personal needs of strangers, but you always did it in the most dignified way, usually cheerfully, always professionally.

My mom came to you after about a year and a half of failing health, exacerbated with a fall in October, and ending with two falls within twelve hours in June. The patients you tend daily are not at the prime of their lives, and my mother was no exception. And that is unfortunate, because you would have really enjoyed knowing my mom the way she really was. Here's some of the reasons why:

My mom was an excellent story teller. She told my brother and me stories from the time we were small. We loved hearing about life during the end of the depression and during the War. We learned about rationing. About how tires were impossible to get, so flat tires happened with frequency, and everyone had a patch kit in the trunk. How IF you were lucky enough to get chewing gum, you saved that gum and chewed it for days, weeks, months. She told us about radio programs they enjoyed, about her father using work horses to farm, about going to the movies every Saturday. So. Many. Stories.

My mom had a great sense of humor. She found the funny in every day situations, even when those situations weren't intended to be humorous. For example, once when I was in college and home for the weekend, I (never a morning person) was coming down the (fortunately carpeted) stairs, slipped on the second step, and fell all the way down the stairs, bumping down each step on my backside and gaining quite a bit of momentum by the time I reached the bottom. In fact, I was going so quickly at that point that, when I hit the tiled entry hall floor at the foot of the stairs, I skidded across it and crashed into the front door just as my mom opened her bedroom door, which was adjacent to the entry hall. As my body came to rest in a moaning heap on the floor, she was laughing so hard so she could barely ask if I was all right (I was NOT - my tailbone has never been the same to this day). So, yes, thanks to my mom, everyone in our family tends to laugh first, check the person's well being second. (It's really not as cruel as it sounds, plus we tend to keep it within the family.)



My mom made the best vegetable soup you'll ever eat. 

My mom always noticed if you lost weight and complimented you on it. Conversely, she never, ever mentioned it when you gained weight, although she obviously noticed that as well.



My mom usually wore comfortable twill pants of some kind and a knit shirt of some kind, but some of these clothes she considered were for home use only, and even if she were only going to run up to the grocery store, she would change the "home" clothes for ones she thought more acceptable for going out of the house. 


My mom loved to shop. She was never extravagant. Her clothes were not elegant, but they were attractive and her outfits accessorized. She shopped sale racks and haunted the outlet mall. She loved Belk, Macy's, Dress Barn, and Bon Worth. She got furious with JCPenney a few years ago when they declined her store credit card for a purchase because it said "Mrs. Robert Vinyard" on it, and the clerk said it had to be imprinted with her own name. She was still spitting mad when she told me the story a few days later ("I've had this card for over forty years and this is how Penneys issued it to me! And it worked just fine LAST WEEK!"). 




My mother was a good friend to many. She even kept up with friends she knew from her childhood.  She listened. She offered advice only when asked and only after careful thought. She encouraged. She loved having coffee and visiting with friends. When I was a child, she did so around a kitchen table, either ours or another neighbors, as they were all car-less stay at home moms. For the past 30 years or so, since moving to Nevada (the town, not the state), she had a weekly coffee group that met on Thursday mornings. There could be anywhere from two to ten women there, drinking coffee, talking and laughing, at whichever venue was the current coffee spot (they went through several over the years, going from a local place that closed to Hardee's to McDonalds then back to Hardee's and then to a new local place). 

My mom loved to play games. She grew up playing games with her family, and she would play pretty much any game with us except for Monopoly and Chutes & Ladders, both of which she hated because they never ended. My mom and I played countless rounds of Yahtzee, Aggravation, Memory, Go Fish and Crazy 8s. In the late 1960s, she and some of her friends would bowl one morning a week, followed by an afternoon of bridge. My dad could play bridge, although he didn't care much for games EXCEPT Monopoly, and they would play once a month with other couple friends whose kids were MY friends. Those evenings were lots of fun, because there was always junk food and dip. She was in a couple of different bridge groups in Nevada (still the town), and she played up until last summer.

My mom loved cats. We had a cat in the house while I was growing up, and my parents inherited a cat of mine that I had in college and couldn't keep. He lived with them for about ten years, at which time they decided they were content with having grand cats instead of having one of their own. She loved having a cat in her lap, though, and when we talked on the phone, she always asked about the kitties. She spoiled my cats, too, buying them toys and letting them sit on the kitchen table and look out the window at the lake house, a HUGE no-no at our house, but what happens at Grandma's house....



There's so much more I could tell you, like how she always took care to make sure her hair and make up looked nice, even after she lost so much of her hair in her last few years. How she had a sweet tooth and always had candy and cookies stashed in different kitchen cabinets. How she enjoyed traveling, even after breaking her leg while on an Alaskan cruise with my dad before the ship had even left the dock and then hobbling around on it for two weeks before she got home and got treatment for it. And how she loved to sit on the deck at the lake house and drink coffee while watching boats go by. 



We wanted to keep her here with us at least a little longer, but Heaven needed her more. It seems there were cats needing a lap to curl up in and children needing a story and some ladies needing a fourth for bridge and someone was wanting a bowl of really good vegetable soup, so she left us for now, and we must now be content knowing we'll see her again some day.


So thank you again, Nursing Home Staff. You took great care of a great lady.





22 comments:

  1. Oh, Dyanne, this is just perfect! I enjoyed getting to know your mom through this post. I agree that it is sad that those who are so intimately acquainted with their patients don't actually know the real people inside. I am so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Kristi! It was cathartic to write it.

      Delete
  2. Loved learning about your mom, Dyanne. Such a wonderful tribute. Nursing staff do amazing things for those we love, and no amount of money can repay the love and care they provide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kate. Yes, I believe the staff of a nursing home has to be some of the most underpaid and probably underappreciated people around. Hard, hard work, physically and emotionally.

      Delete
  3. It's amazing the similarities between us growing up in the '60's.Life was so much simpler then.Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your late mother.

    ReplyDelete
  4. i saw this last night and wanted to read it because i knew how beautifully written this post would be ...my imagination did not do any justice -

    an eloquent tribute for an amazing woman - although i did not know her - getting to know you in this space and reading about her life i do feel I do know this woman known to me as "your mom"

    what a wonderful legacy she left you her stories, her love; and her humor

    Beautiful post Dyanne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Marisa. She was a great mom and a great person. You would have liked her a lot.

      Delete
  5. What a wonderful tribute Dyanne. I hope it was helpful to let others know how cool your Mom was. I still want someone to say "she was a good sport." Like you
    Did in the newspaper....such a complement!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Zoe. I promise I will tell everyone you were a good sport, mkay?

      Delete
  6. Perfect!! Our moms were very much alike. We were lucky; and so was the nursing home.

    ReplyDelete
  7. A wonderful tribute to someone who was so obviously a wonderful mom to you and friend to others, thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is a beautiful, gorgeous tribute to a Very Great Lady, who I am delighted I got to meet In Real. I thought she was absolutely WONDERFUL, and I loved our evening sat on the lake-house porch, all swinging and listening to the banjo, and swatting at mosquitoes. I remember her being so kind and gracious and just LOVELY! Bit like you, really <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She really enjoyed it when you came to visit. And wasn't that a picture-perfect evening spent on the back porch? We probably seemed like such hillbillies to you!

      Delete
  9. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing your mom with us. ❤

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a wonderful eulogy to a wonderful lady, Dyanne - I'm so very sorry for your loss :(
    I'm facing the same thing myself, and am making the most of the time I have left with my Mum, especially as we lost Dad fairly recently.
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories with us all :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Katy. It has been a difficult time, but we'll make the best of it.

      Delete
  11. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing it. What wonderful memories to cherish, until you meet again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Diana. We created a lot of wonderful memories together.

      Delete