Songs of the shrinking blind lady

Help me get up in the air
right away
right away

Dad endured the long visit from the hospice chaplain today.  The minister did not try to play hymns or jazz for Dad.  That was good.  Good, too, that the visit kept Dad up in his wheelchair all afternoon.  When he naps he is crabby... more crabby.

I want something substantial
right now

Help me

I can't get up

Wednesday I was worn out from extreme hot glueing and staff dramas at school.  I had no chitchat in me.  Dad's crabbiness was the last straw in the day.  I was worried, also, to hear from Dad's nurse that his retirement wristwatch had gone missing.

Please get me something to eat
right away

Come and help me
Those of you with wings

Like coffee, a wristwatch is a lifelong habit.  We feel out of kilter without either one.  When I went for a month without a watch, I continued to push up my sleeve and peer at my wrist several times per hour.  Dad's obsession with clocks and time over the past couple years increased as his dementia grew and his ability to make sense of numbers faded. 
I want some bell pepper salad
right now

right away

The nursing home literature suggests the decision-maker family member take away valuables like rings and watches when the resident is admitted.  Dad's watch and wedding ring are most valuable by giving him a sense of normalcy, so I left them with him. 
Bell pepper

right away 

With wrists so skinny, the watch probably slid off when Dad's shirt was changed.  It could be in his bedding, or in the laundry.  Sometimes Dad was angry it was gone.  Other times he forgot it was missing.  We skirted the possibility of theft.  "A watch like that is never lost," Dad proclaimed.  "It is always mislaid."  Hmmm?

all cut into little squares

The hospice bath aide knew what to do when I called her this morning.  She would go down to the laundry and talk to them.  She had assumed I took the watch to my house.  By noon the watch was back on the wrist under the sleeve of Dad's heavy sweater in the eighty-two degree room.
not mushed

I don't have wings and I can't get up

Dad was not crabby this afternoon.  He endured my prattle about peculiar preschoolers as he had endured the chaplain.  Once upon a time he might have called himself "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," a phrase that originated in 1585 or 1933 depending on your source.  He was alert and not annoyed when I wrote my grocery list.

right now

Help me get up in the air

Melva, the blind lady, arrived at the skilled care facility about the same time as my father.  They were also admitted to hospice care the same week.  Since New Year's I've watched her shrink and withdraw.  She pulls her head down into collar and folds her arms across her torso.  It is sad to find her sitting in her wheelchair in the hall in her nice blue cardigan waiting for her attentive son, pleading or praying incessantly like Salinger's Franny.  She may not know her son on any given day, just as Dad my not know me.
I don't eat mush

right away

The blind lady has two voices.  Most of the time she pleads and demands in a loud, raspy monotone.  On days when the hospice chaplain visits, she sings her own hymn.  As I cannot find the lyrics anywhere, I suspect it is Melva's creation from her deep longing.

I won't eat mush

right away

We try to put our affairs in order, neatly in good kilter, but then we sit out in the hall pleading for square-cut peppers and wings with nothing but time to kill.   Dad doesn't wear a kilt.  He does not wear wings.  Most of the time he wears a hospital gown.  He gets out of that when he is going to leave his room in the wheelchair.

kilter - in working order; "out of kilter"; "in good kilter"
orderliness, order - a condition of regular or proper arrangement; "he put his desk in order"; "the machine is now in working order"

This link is to my neglected Mama Collages blog showing textile works as they progressed, including the sphinx moths/honeysuckle piece in Wednesday's post.  I wish I had more time for visual art. On the other hand, being employed is a good thing!

© 2011 Nancy L. Ruder

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Sigh...so glad the watch is back on the wrist.

Also glad to have the link to textile collages, and your art site. I have passed this along to art editor at Escape Into Life!


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