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The Midlife Sage Says: Water the Artificial Flowers

This week I visited Mom at her care facility, and we enjoyed a bland, soft-food lunch in the pleasant dining room.

During the meal she dumped her water glass into the vase of plastic flowers on the table, explaining that the blossoms lasted longer that way. I nodded in agreement.

I’ve finally learned to accept such actions. Over the past few years, it’s been a struggle for me to acknowledge her mental deterioration.

There has been a cadre of physical therapists to keep her active, various puzzles and workbooks to challenge her brain, and regular family activities with the grandchildren and their children.

Despite our best efforts, she is slipping away.

I reached acceptance one day as I was trying to teach her how to use the television remote control.

Finally she burst into tears. “I can’t do it!” she cried.

Not even her love of the Lawrence Welk Show could motivate her to remember how to push the power button and then the correct channel button. So I stopped trying, and we’re both happier. The patient, loving staff now assist her on Saturday nights at 7:00 pm to turn on the television. She still wonders why Mr. Welk never seems to age.

Her small but tidy room is covered with family photographs, but now the pictures have name tags because she can’t always remember who they are. I often find her staring out the window, lost in some memory. She’ll look at me with confusion until she recalls I’m her daughter. I know there will come a time when I’m just another nice person who comes to visit.

My unspoken fear is that I may duplicate the scene with my children, and that thought brings me to tears. For now, I’ll make the journey to Wendell, back to the hometown, to make small talk with my mother. And, we will continue to water the artificial flowers.

Read more posts by Elaine Ambrose, award winning author. Elaine is a blogger for JenningsWire.