Thursday, October 29, 2009


I visited my MIL yesterday at her assisted living facility. She was incredibly glad to see me. She's improved greatly since her fall and broken finger. We talked about her bruises, the rain and then I talked about what I've been doing at home. I can see the unsureness in here eyes because she doesn't relate to my stories but I continue on anyway knowing she needs the attention and conversation.

On the way out, I walk her to the dining room because it was dinner time. Actually, I pushed her on her walker (it has a spot where you can sit down.) She was trying to weasel out of going down there saying her hip hurt but I know she just didn't know that it was so close and that she could walk fine.

As everyone comes in, you can hear parts of conversation here and there. I knew someone had died because of the words out of context like "pneumonia" and "he lived a good long life."

As you walk into the open dining room, there are tables all over and the people usually sit in the same spot every time. The lady who sits behind my MIL is wheelchair bound and you can tell she has had a stroke. She can't use her left hand and her right side of her mouth doesn't move much. She always sits alone at a table for two and puts on a large bib to protect her clothing. She rolled over and asked if I were MILs daughter. I said yes (and said that I was her daughter-in-law.) She said her name was Noo-Noo and that she always tries to get MIL to eat more. She said MIL likes to sit and drink her coffee instead of eating. I laughed as I know she does that all the time too. By this time, MIL wanted to sit at Noo-Noo's table but was politely told no. Noo-Noo said that she saves that other chair for her daughter (who lives an hour away and will come to visit and sit there every other week or so.) I have never seen the daughter so I'm not sure if the timeframe is correct but it is nice that she keeps it unoccupied, just in case.

Then Noo-Noo explained that Mr. Ray had died that morning. He had been in the hospital with pneumonia and had quit eating (they put in a tube etc) and eventually died. She then pointed out where he normally sits and I knew exactly who it was.

He sat with his wife (who he shared a room with at that facility) and pushed her in her wheelchair all the time. We always passed him because their table was on the side of the room where we walk to get to MILs table. He normally would stop and talk to the boys and would hi-five them. I immediately pictured his cap (it had some military patches on it) and it saddened me that we would never get that opportunity to talk to him again. How really sad his wife must now be (as he took care of her there as she'll be alone.)

Noo-Noo said...This is passing-away place. It makes me so sad. (I could see her tearing up.) And then she said, I gotta get out of here. ....I know she won't ever leave, not the way she wants to anyway.

And MIL is oblivious to the conversation taking place or what had happened. Because she tends to get sad and whiny when I leave, I let MIL know that I'd be back the day after tomorrow and that I had a surprise for her. She smiled big! I have a bright purple pair of house shoes for her (she loves that style and purple is her favorite color!)


K said...

you are just a marvelous person

Rachel said...

Truly touching. It's hard not to be realistic and a bit sad when you visit nursing homes, but it is also a place where you can see the enormous wealth of this country in its citizens.

Our family has been involved in nursing home ministry for years (independent of a church - just visiting and bringing special things to patients). One day I actually chatted with a woman who had danced at the Bolshoi Ballet.

It always brought tears to my eyes to see elderly blind men struggle out of their wheelchairs to stand during the Star Spangled Banner.

Really makes you take a look at what will last from your lifetime, no?

I am sure your MIL will be thrilled with her purple treat :)

Anonymous said...

How sad....but how nice that you visit your MIL and that she can look forward to your visits!