Rise Up Singing
I am learning that it is often best not to delay or challenge Mom’s instincts when she’s in a bad mood. The sticky, humid heat is getting to her. We spent the morning wandering in town and having coffee before my dad left us for one of his meetings. By the time we walked back to their apartment, Mom complained of being soaked through. All she wanted to do was lie down.
I tried to get her to paint with me. I took out the water colors, covered the table with newspaper, and positioned a cup of water nearby. I showed her how to dip the brush into the vivid colors. I painted swirls and lines, flowers, clouds. Mom finally took up her brush, dipped it into the red paint, and wrote, “I am here.” Then she abruptly left the table and headed for her bed.
Mom is in touch with how she feels. She can still decide—in the moment—what she wants. That’s not to say she is always right. She overheard me talking with Daddy about a friend who had recently been sick. She barged into our conversation and accused us of spreading lies about her.
“I don’t make people sick,” she yelled. “You want to kill me. Everyone wants to kill me!”
I don’t know what fuels this paranoia. Perhaps it stems from the fact that she cannot navigate her surroundings without assistance. If she feels that one of her key caregivers is turning on her, she panics.
Mom can still be a good judge of what her body needs. This is the lesson I must learn. That no matter how I try to assist, I must pay attention to and take into consideration Mom’s instinctive gestures. I must read her body language. It makes life a lot easier when I do.
Mom ate lunch after her short rest. Then, we sat on the couch and sang our hearts out. It was just what we needed. I’m glad no one was listening, as I really can’t carry a tune. But no matter. With our book, Rise Up Singing,* we sang song after song, each one embedded in Mom’s memory with such clarity.
It didn’t matter that Mom had been angry, or that she’d had to be reminded about how to eat a sandwich, or that she referred to me as a friend. What did matter was the fun we had in the moment. I’ll be back next week for some more fun.
I think of summer as a wonderful time to eat cold salads. Here’s a sweet carrot salad that incorporates one of my favorite summer fruits—grapes.
Sweet Carrot Salad
3 carrots, grated
25 grapes, sliced in half
1 Tbsp toasted pecans, chopped
1 Tbsp craisins
Juice of one orange (or ¼ cup)
1 tsp cinnamon
Place grated carrots into a mixing bowl. Toss in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
*Blood, Peter and Annie Patterson, eds., USA: Sing Out!, 1988.