Thursday, July 21, 2011


Windows. I see windows in my mother's days. I find a small open window and see how long I can keep it open. I grow sad when I see it closing.

Our day yesterday was pretty normal on the outside. Another tandem shower (normal maybe by Japanese standards), a trip to the doctors then a trip to K-mart. An afternoon nap (book reading for me), a trip to the library. A treat at Jamba Juice, a shopping spree. It was a great day yesterday!

The windows come in because so much of what we do is determined by whether my mother is willing (and able) to do things.

"Grandma, do you want to take a shower with me again?"


What? Okay, quick! A window is open! The other day Grandma said the same thing but 5 minutes later when I was stripping her down she suddenly did NOT want to take a shower and she made a lot of fuss about it despite the tickling feet episode. Not that she fights us... just a lot of sighs and pouting and mumbling.

So when my mother is willing I take all the opportunities I can get! A nice mother-daughter shower that she said "feels good!" and we were ready for a visit to the doctors.

If nothing else, my mother is a pretty cheerful old lady. Her favorite comment when she meets anyone, whether for the first time or in the morning is

"That is such a pretty shirt."

and she will finger the material like she's discovered gold. If a man is wearing a tie she will make the same comment about his tie. Marcy says to Grandma,

"Come on, Grandma we've got to go to Dr. J's office today and see what tie he's wearing."

And even Dr. J, when Grandma oohed and aahed about his tie yesterday, said

"I will know when something is really wrong with you when you stop commenting about my ties." (He was wearing a pink and purple paisley tie yesterday.)

After the doctor's visit it was off to K-Mart to buy Grandma her $5 shoes (she won't wear anything else). Since they were on sale we bought her 4 pairs (I'm afraid they get "soiled" easily...)

"I don't need 4 pairs of shoes! (yes you do, since everyday two pairs go in the wash) I'll be dead before I ever wear out 4 pairs of shoes!"

At age 90 that could be true...

And I have to remember that my mother is almost 90. How could that be? She shuffles along with her walker... Slowly trying to maneuver it through the aisles... stopping to finger things but forgetting what we are doing in the store anyway. Why is the dang shoe department so far away! And don't these stores have wheelchairs for people (almost all stores do in Japan.... even supermarkets!) Or a bench so that a person can take a rest?

"I'm tired." "I'm dizzy." "Let's go home." and my mother rests her head on her forearms leaning against her walker. Shopping is too much for her... The window has closed and she looks ancient and ready to be carted away right there and then.

Once back home I offer her food but she only takes a bite of anything. I am surprised at how little she eats. Take up a Grandma diet and I would be slim and trim in 5 days!

But in the afternoon, Grandma opened a window again.

"Mother, I'm going to the library. Do you want anything?" Grandma used to be a great reader. Nowadays she keeps a book by her side but will no longer open it.

"Library? I haven't been to the library in ages. Maybe I'll pick out a book too!"

Window open! Grandma wants to go to the library! I grab her purse and my purse and yell out the window in the direction of the main house that we are going to the library. I need to get Grandma out before she closes that window on me!

We picked out books (she from afar while sitting at a table). As we were getting back in the car I suggested going to get something cold to drink and Grandma was game! Off to Jamba Juice.

With anything edible, it is a waste of food and money to buy Grandma anything. She takes three sips through her straw and says she's done. This is true with meals too. She'll accept a plate but will only eat a tiny bit. The first three days here that would annoy me. Why does she order anything if she isn't going to try to eat it? But I realized yesterday that I am paying for a few minutes of mother-daughter time... a few minutes of normal California life... a few minutes of how days of yesteryear were... not a Jamba Juice. We enjoyed ourselves out under the sun umbrella, watching people and cars go by, reveling in the cool breeze and the icy paper cup...

"Mother, we are right here by the mall. Do you want to look at clothes?"

This is pushing it a bit. How long will this window stay open?

"No. You'll have more fun shopping with Marcy. You go later."

"Okay... but if I go with you, then I know that YOU'LL pay for it!"

This brought gales of laughter from her.

"Then let's go... If it doesn't get too extensive."

"Extensive or expensive?"

"Both!" more laughter from both of us. What a lovely time together.

We found a shirt for Grandma. We found a shirt for me. The wonderful summer breeze flowed through the window all evening.

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