Mother’s Day

Sunflower

May

“Excuse me,” says a voice I’ve never heard before in my life. “Can you tell me where my mom’s room is?”
I stare at the man in silence for a moment, before finally answering: “Sure. If you can tell me your mom’s name.”

Mother’s Day in a nursing home is rather like Mother’s Day in church: people come out of the woodwork, there’s lots of flowers and then the crowd disappears again.
It’s how I wish every Sunday would be for my residents: full of treats and families, phone calls and cards. Maybe it’s how I wish everyday would be for them. Even those with severe dementia can tell when they are being neglected by their families…whether or not they are able to put that feeling into complete words and coherent sentences. So many families will appear on Mother’s Day, bearing chocolate (that Mom can’t even eat sometimes) and flowers, only to disappear until Christmas.

I think this might actually be my least favorite part of my job. We’re a throw-away society and, unfortunately, that extends to how we treat our elderly. I just hate seeing this upclose; I hate dealing with the aftermath.

I show him the way to her room, smile and go back to my work. That is, until I’m once again stopped–this time by a voice I know quite well.
“Happy Mother’s Day, May!” a frequent visitor sings out, thrusting a candy bar into my hands. “I know you’re not a mom yet, but here’s for taking care of my mom.”

The world’s not all bad, I remind myself.
These people deserve more credit than they will ever get, the all-year faithful. Those families that take the time, not only for my residents, but also for me.
To all the family members who are there all year round, your mom might not be able to say it so take it from me: Thank You.

2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day

  1. minstrel

    I hope that son got the irony of your question, May! Your comparison to churchgoing on holidays is very apt. Maybe every Sunday (or Saturday) the preacher should ask attendees “And this week, after church will you visit your Mother/Dad/Grandad who is living in a nursing home?” Some residents have families who really become part of the unit, they are there so often and interact with everyone. What a difference it makes. As for the others, we are the only real family they have now. Yesterday I visited a LTC resident who is on hospice; the chaplain came in and showed me a pile of greeting cards the resident has; every week one of the aides sends her a card (at her own expense), just so the resident will have mail to open. PS the resident has Down’s syndrome and dementia, but this aide knows she is still a person capable of feeling and hasn’t consigned her to life’s trash bin. What a great practice.

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