My mother, on the other hand, has had a fair amount of experience with nursing homes, especially during her parents' last years. She moves through that environment seemingly unfazed with the extent of illness that's present there. But I know that she is not unfazed with those surroundings. No one could possibly be. And it is now a new routine for her, and for all of our family members. Just like millions of others. After being "on call" at home literally 24/7 with Dad's care, she must adjust her schedule, plans, and mindset to this new phase of life. It's a blessing that in her early 80's she looks, thinks and moves as if she were in her early 60's.
From a distance I can listen, and give advice, for what that's worth. And I'd wager it isn't worth much. We can only breathe with some relief that Dad is in a relatively "stable" period with Parkinson's. No one can predict how long that will continue.
So during my increasingly frequent trips back to Texas I'll listen, watch, and learn.
Awkward though it may be.
my knees were pained
on the concrete floor
he was pained in his mind and body
with each wheel chair roll
I never dreamed of breaking
a Milky Way bar into pieces and
feeding him sweet bit by bits or
having to hold a Coke bottle
to his lips
for a brief retreat
was all he could say
and my knees felt
Essay and Poem © 2010 by R. Burnett Baker