It was snowing like crazy, and mom was all bundled up and ready to rock ‘n’ roll (that’s what cars and wheelchairs do in the snow) to Circle Center Adult Day Care, aka heaven on earth!
On the way out the door, I asked Carolyn, our caregiver extraordinaire, where mom’s glasses were.
“They just keep falling off, Tom. She just can’t keep them on … and (long pause) … she really can’t see much anymore. Her eyes are closed most of the time now, even when she eats. I just don’t think she needs them anymore.”
Looking back on it now, I realize I was only halfway listening to Carolyn. I think I was focused more on how I was going to conquer the snow and get from Point A to Point B without losing two of my most favorite people on this planet … mom and me!
It wasn’t until I had safely made it to Circle Center and was lifting mom from the car into her wheelchair, that I noticed her again without her glasses. I took a picture of her and then just stood there, my eyes fixated on her face, crying.
The snow was falling in slow motion, in unison with my tears.
It was the first time in my life … my entire life … that I had seen my mom start her day without her glasses.
When I first started caring for her, it was a struggle to even get her to take them off at bedtime. And, often, she’d have them on again before getting out of bed in the morning. Maybe she needed them to see her dreams. Who knows? All I know is I never knew.
I wiped my eyes on my coat sleeve and wheeled mom into the lobby. It was as warm as the welcome from the receptionist. “Good morning, Tom! Pretty rough going out there this morning. Glad to see you and your mom made it safe and sound.”
Then she turned to mom. “Hey, Helen! Don’t you look great in that red coat of yours. (Pause) Helen … where are your glasses?”
I basically gave her the same explanation Carolyn gave me. They’re always falling off. Mom keeps her eyes closed most of the time now. And, even when they’re open, I’m not really sure she sees much of anything anyway.
Then the receptionist asked if I was OK. I don’t know whether my eyes were giving it away, but I started tearing up again. “I’m OK. It’s just that … I have never seen my mom without her glasses on … my entire life … never.”
“For all I know, she was born with her glasses on … little tiny baby glasses that must have grown up with her.”
I tried to pull a smile out of my hat, but it wasn’t working.
I bent over to kiss mom’s cheek and say goodbye. Her eyes were closed.
I whispered, “I love you mom … I’ll see you later.”
I went back out into the cold wondering if my mom would ever see me again.