Today was a rough one. Got out to the nursing home this morning to find Mimi in one of the group rooms, playing a game of ring toss with about ten other
inmates residents. Some of them looked like they were sort of having fun, but for the rest, including Mimi, it was clearly just one more damn thing to get through in the day. She said she had felt feverish all morning, and she did feel hot, though when the nurse came and took her temp a couple of hours later it registered normal. I don’t know if it was a fever or just the knowledge that we were leaving today, but she was the weakest and most confused I’ve seen her. Couldn’t string a thought together, couldn’t remember names or places or times, didn’t understand what you were talking about when you tried to help her, wouldn’t eat a thing, bit your head off when you tried to get her to eat, and so on, and so on, and so on. It was tough, y’all. We took a break for lunch, and when we came back she was passed-out asleep on her bed. (Peculia was asleep, too, but she looked kind of like she’d just fallen sideways across her bed and decided, what the hell, I’ll just take a nap.) We hated to wake her, but knew she’d want to see us before we had to leave. She was even more disoriented in the afternoon than she had been in the morning, but we tried to chat, and I rubbed her legs and feet, which she loves. Just before we had to go, she told Dad to put his head down next to her so she could “scritch” it. Dad will do just about anything to get his head scritched (like scratching your back, only on the scalp), so he bent over and let her do it, and then afterwards she made him go get her comb so she could get his hair back in order. It’s an image that will stay with me for the rest of my life: this emaciated, sickly, confused old woman so tenderly caressing her son, taking a little care of him after he’d been taking such great care of her.
We told her we had to go, and she said she’d be brave and not let us see her cry. She told us to come back as soon as ever we could and we promised we would. Somehow we made it out of the place without completely breaking down, though I still feel like I could start bawling if someone looked at me cross-eyed. I sure am glad I’ll be home tonight.