Wednesday, February 11, 2009

mom goes to college (♪ ♫ a 5 hour cruise...)

(yesterday) we started loading the bus at 10 a.m. and left on our outing at 11. yep, it took a full hour to get twelve alzheimer's residents, 5 wheel chairs, 4 walkers, three adult children of said residents, 2 staff members and one driver on board.

i'm here to tell you, it was worth every second and then some.

i suppose i need to practice my over-the-head-and-behind blind camera shots. this is the best one of the lot, but i think you get the's hardly a spring break college crowd. but there's more personality packed into those old ladies than there is on an entire spring break beach.

our motley crew arrived at richland college, home of the mighty thunderducks!, with plenty of time to spare for our picnic lunch before the concert we came to see. (it only took about an hour to unload, wheel and wobble our way to this choice campus spot.)

pat and marjorie.

these two ladies are as different as night and day. pat, on the left, is wry and brash. marjorie is inquisitive and gentle. both are remarkably intelligent human beans.

pat: "what's your name?"
mom: "mary anne."
(they eat 3 meals a day at the same table. we say their names and converse together daily.)
pat: "your 1st name is mary? that's my 1st name, too."

me: "so your name is mary patricia?"
pat: "no, my name is mary winnifred."
me: "how'd you get pat out of mary winnifred?"

pat: "when i was a child people called me winnie and whiney and weanie. i didn't like that, so i fixed them. i changed my name to pat."

mom: "hahahahaha."
pat (to mom, again): "what's your name?"

lest i give the wrong impression, pat is very smart. she knows my name, a remarkable feat at her stage of dementia. she remembers my dog's name even when he is not there and asks about him often, which is not something my own mom is capable of. pat can paint in oils and was once an art restoration specialist. she may have lost more cognitive abilities than i've ever been graced with. i'd love to know 1/2 of what pat still knows somewhere in the recesses of her being.

and marjorie? marjorie is grace and wit personified.

the box lunches were ham and cheese sandwiches with a separate baggie of lettuce and tomato. when i put it all together for her, i was concerned it was too big and unwieldy to get in her dainty mouth. she misunderstood and insisted i take it.  after convincing her i had my own, she carefully took the sandwich apart piece by piece and ate each part separately. when she saw me watching her do this, she gave a knowing wink and offerred me a cookie from her box, which i took gratefully. then she said, "i can break that cookie up for you if you'd like." and we laughed and laughed.

marjorie is at about the stage mom was a year ago.

and then there's helen...
when we loaded the picnic lunches on the bus helen asked what was in the boxes. told what they were, she said she sure hoped beer was included. at one point on the ride over she told mom there was wine in them thar boxes, which delighted mom no end. i said, "no, i'm real sorry, but there's no wine. it's just sandwiches and stuff." 

and helen said, in her gravelly voice, "what kind of stuff? i hope it's scotch." (oh lordy. spring break, look we come!)


not a very flattering picture of mom on the right, (but just look at how well her face is healing, lynn anne!) helen in the center, and on the far left, marjorie.

this is my favorite picture of the day. unless i fucked something up (likely), you should be able to click on it, or any other picture, for a closeup.
l-r: henry, diane (henry's daughter) and bill. i love how the gender segregation happens so naturally. kinda like in grade school. ("go over there and ask one of those girls to square dance, you little twit!")

come on guys! it's spring break. party time! the girls are waitin'!!!!

ok, this post is going on too long for most of you, but i'm not just ramblin' on for no reason((max butler)). there are a few people who might want to know that we did finally make it to the concert. (like my kids and sister. ie: the reason for this blog.)

the concert is about to begin. mom is seated 4th from the right side.

(bus driver john, on the left, is one of my minor heroes...)

and the concert was very, very cool.

every tuesday, the richland college orchestra class puts on a little concert. the last time we went, they were performing. this time, though, it was 4 members of the dallas symphony orchestra playing as a string quartet so the students could see, hear and interact with how it's really supposed to be done.

i'm very unsophisticated when it comes to classical music. the 1st number was a mozart piece and all i could think of while listening was of old-timey cartoons of spoons and plates and such dancing on black and white tv.
the beethoven opus-something-or-other conjured up vivid images of old silent movies.
the bartok piece blew me away with its sublime dissonance and whisked me off to some old, scary, mystery movie. hitchcock maybe...but what do i know?

afterwards, bill said, "i never appreciated the fiddle before. i never knew it could make so much music. i sure am glad we went."

and i am, too. and for more than one reason. (12 reasons to be exact.)


rainbowheart said...

Thank you so much for the pictures and the post of the trip with the Alz. patients. I bet it was a trip of a lifetime. I have to say....I smiled more today than I have smiled in the past few days. Thanks again...

cornbread hell said...

my pleasure.

in more ways than one.

Annie said...

Perfect. Just...perfect. Thank you.

cornbread hell said...

annie, i just reread it and it doesn't nearly do them justice. they are so much more.

but thanks.

rilera said...

I've got to get back to CB for a visit. This post made me miss them all, and especially Mom, so much. Thanks for sharing this Rick.

BTW Your Mom's face does look better. I hope she's still doing OK.

You are a good son.

cornbread hell said...

rilera, she really is doing ok. she's an amazing old broad.

it would be nice if you went back to cb. if it wouldn't tear you up too much, i'm sure they'd appreciate the visit. even if it is only for the moment.

ah. what else do they have but the moment? (or we, for that matter.)

¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

I love this post. You have such a beautiful spirit and sense of humor.

Looks like everyone had fun, including you. Those days are priceless for everyone involved. I know it meant something to them for you to be there sharing that with them. And the feeling was mutual.

Your mom is healing up quite well. She looks like she is having a fabulous time with her buds:)

cornbread hell said...

can i tell you a secret? they free up my spirit and sense of humor. it's really a very selfish thing i do, hanging out with them.)))

mom's way past having a *fabulous time.* but she's healthy. and that feels like such a bonus.

bulletholes said...

What a trip! Brings back memories of my Dad at the VA Hospital. We would take him cigars. He couldn't smoke 'em, but he enjoyed having them just the same. And when a PA would ask if he needed anything he would always ask for a Scotch and Soda. Dad didn't get any outings.
Sounds like you have a good deal going there.

Joanne said...

That trip sounded wonderful, Rick. I'm so glad you're able to enjoy these things with your mom. ((hugs))

Stitchwhiz said...

Way to go, Rick thanks for the great report about Mary Anne and the other old broads. Breaks my heart but makes me want to help preserve memories of who they were before Alz.