If your mother is no longer with you—or far away—consider the women in a supported living facility who find themselves far away from their children. You may be able to help one another…
What follows was written in 2015 a few months after Mom’s death.
When I find myself stressed from work—beset by too many deadlines, too many emails all pressing for an immediate response—I head to Supported Living to visit my adopted mothers.
The moment I arrive, time shifts. Stress disappears. There is only the moment and I surrender to each restful, rewarding minute.
Their small community is gathering in the dining room, ready for lunch. I am greeted with smiles.
I greet them each by name and the smiles get bigger.
First Evelyn, also known as the duchess. She is approaching her 104th birthday and is still completely animated and engaged with life. I’m becoming something of a project for Evelyn. “A little makeup wouldn’t hurt,” she advises. “And some jewelry…and a little more blush.” I comply and she is pleased…so much better.” In return I treated her to a facial, her first in 104 years. She loved it. “I have never been so pampered.” About time.
Next to her is Ruby, she of the sardonic southern drawl. She and Evelyn consider my cookies to be the key to a long life. “Get in the kitchen and start cooking!” commands Ruby.
I begin with gentle neck massages—always asking permission. (Ruby hates them.)
“Ciao, Bella!” I call to Flora and give her a quick kiss on the forehead.
“Heaven has arrived,” beams Jane. “You have such happy hands.”
“Do you tuck your wings in a handkerchief when you’re not here?” asks Gloria as she snuggles contentedly into her chair. (Hands down the best compliment I have ever received.)
“You have good hands. Are you a professional?” asks Sue. “Thank you.”
I greet Joyce and her companion, Gus, a little stuffed animal. “Woof,” I say. “Gus is looking very happy today.” Joyce agrees, pleased.
I give Phyllis a head hug. In all the years I have known her, I have never heard her voice in conversation—instead coos and murmurs. But when we sing, her voice is loud and clear and she sways to the music and laughs.
And around the table I go, their happiness increased by the smiles on each other’s faces,
What wonderful women they are. In the company of such joy, who wouldn’t feel rested and revitalized?
After an hour I am recharged and calm—ready for the head winds of a busy life and thankful for the safe harbor of my mothers in Supported Living.
Back to the present. Last Monday I was at Supported Living. Gloria, Jane, Sue and Joyce are still with us but Kathleen has moved to the remotes of Memory Care and Evelyn, Ruby and Flora have passed. New faces have taken their place and, I am happy to say, all are eager for neck massages.
And so it goes.