Category Archives: aging parent

You Get the Picture

Who needs a thousand words when it comes to mom?

There is no denying mom’s talking less and less, but when she says something, you listen and long for every word.

I had just dropped her off at Circle Center Adult Day Care. She was in her wheelchair, eyes closed, when I kissed her cheek and whispered, “Bye, mom, I love you … I’ll see you later, OK?”

Surprisingly she answered, “You’re not going to leave me here are you?”

“No mam. I will never, ever leave you. I have to go to work, but I’ll be back later to get you, OK?”

“OK.”

I gave her one last hug, and as I headed for the door, I heard her say loud and clear, “Good luck to you and your lover. (PAUSE) Ain’t that nice?!”

I looked back and her eyes were still closed, her head was slowly nodding up and down, and I swear she was smiling.

It looked to me like she was totally pleased with herself for, well, being so nice.

I don’t know where it came from, but I still can’t get this picture out of my mind, and I don’t even know what it looks like.

 

 

A Look I’d Never Seen

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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.”

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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.

Christmas Baby is 96

Gray hairs seem to my fancy like the soft light of the moon, silvering over the evening of life.- Jean Paul 

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Mom was born on Christmas day, 1919.
Today she’s celebrating her 96th birthday!
That translates to 35,064 days and 35,064 nights on this planet.
There have been exactly 1,187 full moons since she was born.

How many of them have you seen?

As fate would have it, mom will have a full moon shining over her on her birthday! The last Christmas full moon was in 1977. The next one will be in 2034.

Happy birthday, mom!

Here’s to many more full moons coming your way!

Hysterical Historical Holiday Solution

Guest blog by my wife, Melissa

Kenzie & Helen

Kenzie & Helen

Every year, we celebrate Christmas with Tom’s daughters (Tovi & Lissi), their husbands (Ty & Chris) and the six grandchildren (Thomas, Patrick, Fisher, Livi, Kenzie & Tyli) between Christmas and New Year’s.  Tom and I really get into the planning and have created some fun traditions for “Christmas RVA” that we know are on the kiddos “must do” list each year.

Every morning starts off with a hidden clue as to the magic the day will hold.  And, once all the kids are awake, they look for the clue, decipher it and announce the day’s plans (ex: outdoor ice-skating downtown, hot chocolate at the Jefferson Hotel, The Tacky Light Tours, etc.)  And, each year, in honor of Helen, the kids help plan a birthday party for her and decorate the cake.  She’ll be 95 this year! As of last year, we had to stop using individual candles as we were awfully close to a fire hazard at the 93rd celebration!

And, each year, we try to continue Helen’s legacy and love of history by sharing some of the experiences we know she would create for her great grandchildren if she could.  Last year, we visited Mount Vernon and the year prior, Monticello.  This year, we were considering Williamsburg (Note: For those of you who know Helen, you can rest assured we haven’t waited this long to share her love of all things colonial …  we all know and love Williamsburg dearly, but not everyone has seen it casting its candlelight spell during the holidays.)

Last year, the stars aligned and we were able to celebrate together for 6 days.  This year, we’ll have to condense our plans into 3 days which we anticipate to be quite the challenge.  So, this past weekend, we drove down to Wilmington to celebrate Lissi’s birthday and help with Tovi’s move, so we decided to do a little research with the kids.  Which activities would make the cut?  Ice skating and opening presents tied for first.  The “historical” trip ranked low (although they all said yes to Williamsburg if we had more time).

On our last night, as we were gathered around a fire at the Heffron’s and were revealing the results of the kids’ poll with Tovi & Lissi, we shared our dilemma.  Tom and I would have to find a way to fit in the historical experience because we knew we had to make Helen proud.

As everyone considered possible solutions, Kenzie (age 9) piped up with a straight face, “Helen’s historical.”

All eleven of us looked over at her and busted out laughing in unison … problem solved!

My Vote’s for Topnotch and Mom

Mom’s a lifelong flag waver

Mom’s showing her true colors and at almost 93, still bleeds red, white and blue.

It is amazing when you think that she has voted in 17 general elections and her first vote was for Franklin D. Roosevelt to serve a third term. Her last vote was for Obama four years ago, and when I say last, I mean her last, because she will be sitting this one out.

Even so, I asked her who she would be voting for and she said, without really knowing the candidates’ names, “I am voting for topnotch, whoever that is.”

Mom’s a voter’s voter.

I pulled a postcard addressed to mom out of the mailbox a couple of days ago and proudly showed it to everyone I could. It compares mom’s voting record in the last five general elections with others in her neighborhood, and you can see she received the highest mark.

I wish the organization that sent the postcard would have gone back in the public records far enough to add the other 12 general elections mom voted in. She might have won a trip to Disney World!

So, today, I will be casting my vote in mom’s honor as well as to all of you who consistently exercise your right to vote. As long as you vote, and vote for topnotch, whoever that is, the red, white and blue will continue to fly above all others, it’s a gift of freedom to honor, cherish, protect and behold.

A Side Note: Mom’s home was built in 1796 which means it has been on this earth for every general election since our second president, John Adams! No telling how many votes have been cast from folks who lived in this home. I know mom, dad and my sister, Nel, sure did cast their fair share. 

What’s HIS Name?

Quick, illuminating exchange with mom this morning.

Me: Mom, what’s the name of Jesus’s father?

Mom: Mr. Christ.

The Great Challenge: Win by a Nose

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Great granddaughter, Livi, has issued her great grandmother, Helen, The Great Challenge.

Livi lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, and has challenged mom, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, to balance a spoon on her nose, no super glue or other adhesives allowed.

The challenge was issued with the following image attached.

Well, maybe it was just the picture that was sent, but I am making it into a challenge.

There is  no question that Livi looks like and has the confidence of a champion.

What Livi doesn’t know is that mom has been practicing balancing a spoon on her nose for some time now and though her practice sessions are always done undercover, I have never underestimated her winning ways.

From the looks of things, mom seems mighty happy with what just happened.

In fact, judging from the two pictures, it is just too close for me to call!

So, I am calling on you to comment and tell me your choice of who should Win by a Nose. Votes will be closed at midnight on June 25th and the winner will be announced the next morning. So shoot your comments my way.

Who is the champion?

Is it Livi?

Is it Helen?

God only nose!

My Mom is 92!

As of Christmas Day, my 91 year old mom is 92!

My wife (Melissa), daughters (Tovi and Lissi), son-in-laws (Chris & Ty), grandkids (Thomas, Patrick, Fisher, Livi, Kenzie and Tyli), and I all celebrated her birthday in grand style.

Five of the grand kids each stuck 15 candles into a homemade chocolate cake (mom’s favorite) and one got to finish it off with 17.

When we lit the cake to present it to mom, not only did the room light up like a fireworks finale on the Fourth of July, the temperature in the entire house heated up at least ten degrees! I thought Smokey the Bear would appear any minute and say, “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”

And, let me tell you, mom blew those candles out like nobody’s business. After 91 years of blowing out an ever increasing number of candles, today would be a piece of cake. This lady was on a mission! Practice made perfect.

Those 92 candles made quite an impression on all of us, especially the kids. They now know what 92 looks and feels like. It looks like a humongous bright, shining light, and makes you feel warm all over. It is so very special.

And, the taste? Delicious as a homemade chocolate cake! A taste none of us will ever forget.

We asked mom how old she was and she said, “I don’t know, how old am I?”

When we shouted 92 in unison, she shot back, “I am not. I am no such thing.”

And … one thing we all knew, no matter what age we were … never challenge a lady about her age … especially this one!

With all the commotion going on, we didn’t have time to ask mom what her wish was when she blew out the candles. Besides, her wish was already coming true right before our eyes.

Both of her little hands were grabbing hold of that chocolate cake before we could even take what was left of the smoking candles from the forest fire out, cut and serve it. Chocolate was all over her mouth, but it didn’t stop her from asking for more! All she could say between bites was, ” This is the best cake I have ever tasted in the whole wide world … and that’s it.”

As for our blog being called My 91 Year Old Mom,  it will remain the same until I can figure out how to change the domain name (which was my original idea) and not confuse mom’s ever growing universe of followers.

Just know my mom is now officially 92, no matter what she or the blog title says.

And, I for one will never challenge what she says except in the safe place this blog has become … and that’s  it!

Stay connected, there is sure to be a whole lot more I’ll share with you on my mom’s and my ever unfolding journey of a lifetime.

It’s My Party …

A Special Visitor on Mom's Birthday

It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to

Cry if I want to, cry if I want to

You would cry too, if it happened to you

Me: Mom, you are 92 years old, today! What does it feel like to be born on Christmas Day?

Mom:  I cried. Every Christmas I cried.

Me: Why mom?
Mom: Because everybody got presents on my birthday, and I never got presents on theirs.
PostScript: Well, our family can’t wipe away 91 years worth of tears, but we sure do know how to throw a party-without-tears.
Join the fun at My Mom is 92!


Mom’s Short Takes

Mom’s Short Takes are an ever changing collection of mom’s take on life, precisely as she sees it on any given day or moment.  You’ll find them on the right side bar of the blog.

They are quick reads and you’ll discover they are often worth sharing!

Here’s Mom’s Short Take from this morning when I was walking her to the car. She was loving the day, the sun, the clouds and the cacophony of sounds the birds always bring her way.

I stopped and pointed to a huge old oak tree and said, “That’s a giant tree isn’t it, mom? And it’s been around just going and growing a whole lot longer than either of us have.”

She looked at it, covering her eyes from the glare of the sun and said in an almost spiritual way, “It surely has, son.” And as she looked all the way to the top she added, “I wonder what can go all the way up there? I mean all the way to the top of that big old tree!”

For whatever reason, I said, “Monkeys!”

She didn’t laugh or crack a smile (like I was doing). She just nodded and said, “You’re right on that one. Monkeys could do it.”

Later, as I was driving mom to her adult daycare (that I call Mom’s Magic Kingdom), mom said, out of the blue, “You know what I want for Christmas?”

“Nope,” I responded, only half listening.

“Monkeys. That’s all I want. Monkeys.”

Stay tuned! There are always more Mom’s Short Takes where this one came from. 

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