Monday, April 12, 2004

If I had ever visited a nursing home before Mother entered one, then I don't remember it. Now it is a big part of my life. Visiting gives me a lot of satisfaction and a little bit of frustration.

I usually visit only four times a week, but the Easter parade was Friday and I did not want to miss that.

But I was late. When I got there, they had just started the parade. As I walked down the row of wheelchairs searching for Mother, I saw the smiling faces of the old women and realized I loved them.

This was a revelation to me. It has always struck me as unfortunate how we love helpless babies but not helpless old people. I myself felt that way.

But now that I know these women, I feel differently. They are a lot of trouble. They never remember me or the way to their room. They don't know where they are, what is happening, or who most people are.

But most of them are pleasant and grateful and loving. For example, one day last week one of the women asked for a cup of coffee. After getting it, she decided to go to her room to drink it. I knew that coffee would never make it so I carried the cup for her. When I had gotten her to her room and settled her in her chair, she thanked me and gave me a hug. Who would not respond to that.

I found Mother toward the back of the line. Peggy, an old basketball-playing friend of my sister June, was pushing her. She let me push Mother and went to help someone else.

For the parade, the women wear brightly colored hats with flowers on the brim. Staff, family, and volunteers push them around the home and loop around outside while Irving Berlin's Easter Parade plays on the loud speakers. I myself wore a turqoise shirt and Mother's turquoise First Sunday in May hat.

Those who can't participate sit in their doorways or watch from their beds. We wave at them and they wave at us as we go by. It's really fun.

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