My mother is in Assisted Living. She is also under hospice care. She is bed bound so she never leaves her small bedroom. She is extremely hard of hearing so she is unable to make any sense of a phone call. She is still smart as a whip like you remember her, although at times forgetful. She spends most of her time watching CNN and waiting for visitors to drop in. Up until last week I tried to go every day – perhaps more for my benefit than hers.
Yesterday was her 94th birthday. Her facility has been closed to all non-health care personnel for over a week. I wrestled with the fact that she is spending what may be her last birthday without family and without visitors. The grandkids and greats sent her cards and I asked Deborah, her daily caretaker, to please retrieve them from her locked mailbox downstairs. I knew she was receiving them because DeeDee, her favorite in house caretaker FaceTimed us so I could see her admiring the cards the little boys had drawn. And still I felt great sadness. It seems so cruel to live to 94 and have no family to celebrate the milestone with you.
Late Friday afternoon DeeDee FaceTimed again. She and Deborah were throwing a birthday party. They had bought balloons, and cupcakes and a tiara. There sat my mother, in her bed, in her prettiest nightgown, wearing a tiara and eating cake and ice cream while DeeDee and Deborah sang her Happy Birthday! She looked as happy as I can remember. I blew her a kiss.
In this strange and unsettling time we may be offered gifts that we never expect or look for. DeeDee and Deborah have made a new family for my mother and brought her joy. They have brought me joy and peace. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” I am sure he already knew DeeDee and Deborah and was talking about them. I pray that God will extend the mercy of continued good health to them as they open their arms and hearts to the most vulnerable among us.
Written by Mary Coxe