I assumed that she looked forward to my visits with keen anticipation. I am, after all, her daughter. Surely, I hold a place of importance in her life.
It took me a long time to realize that I am only a tiny, tiny part of it. Far more important are her neighbors Phyllis and Kathleen, her wonderful nurses and care-givers, the 2nd Floor Assisted Living community, her cousin Frank and sister Louise. (At 93 and 92, they live on the 3rd floor.)
I see her three times a week. She knows me—though I suspect she isn’t quite sure why. She’s always happy to see me and we have a wonderful time together.
But I used to treat my visits as our private time. We walked, talked, sang and played Scrabble but only the two of us. Only gradually did I open my eyes to see the world in which she really lives. Lucky for her, she has a new family. Lucky for me, they are willing to welcome me as a member.
There is shy Phyllis, who once rarely spoke but who now greets me with beaming recognition and hugs that never stop. Kathleen—essentially serious and definite about what she will and will not do but ready for conversation and eager to talk about her husband (who is quite present in her life though not in her room). Gloria—with her gorgeous smile and gregarious nature; Muriel and Jane—women I am just beginning to know.
All of them love to talk and are particularly proud to introduce me to everyone in their circle. “Do you know her name?” they asked, pointing to a lovely woman seated in a wheelchair. “Her name is Flora.” “Laura?” I say. ‘No, Flora…the flower,” they respond—patient with my lack of comprehension.
The next day, as Mom and I marched down the hall, Flora appeared. “Do you remember me?” She was quite pleased when I greeted her by name.
So once again, thanks to Mom, my world has changed for the better. I have six new Moms—vibrant, funny, curious and loving.