As I drive the five minutes from my house to hers, I wonder to myself:
“Will today be the day she no longer recognizes me?”
I greet Kim at the front desk and linger a little too long chatting about my haircut and my decision to let it go gray, and then turn left, peeking down the familiar hallway.
Today I spot her sitting in her wheelchair in the lounge area. The TV is on, and she’s sitting about a foot away from it, staring, but not really watching.
“Hi, Mom,” I whisper as I come close to her left side.
“JODEE!” She looks surprised, but grateful to see me. And I breathe a sigh of relief.
It’s not today. She still knows me.
“How did you find me?” She thinks she’s so elusive.
“I walked right down the hall and here you are!”
I wheel her over next to a comfy chair and we settle in for a conversation about something that doesn’t involve choices or decisions. Those are difficult for her, and really good for me as I learn to be a better decision-maker.
“We are coming here for Thanksgiving,” I tell her instead of asking whether she’d like to come to my house instead.
“That will be nice. Will your sister be here?”
She’s having a good day. We chat about our Thanksgiving plans, the weather, the Bison and Viking football teams, and my upcoming travel plans.
The nurse aides stop to chat and give hugs. They have become like family. I am more grateful for them than I know how to express, so smiles and hugs will have to do.
On another day we might explore the hallways or, if it’s nice, venture outside.
But today, we just chat. I show her pictures on Facebook of her friends and relatives. She still hasn’t gotten the hang of my smartphone as she tries to touch the screen, making the photo go away.
“Don’t worry, you didn’t break it.” She’s always worried about that.
A couple of months ago my sister brought some old (really old) photo albums of Mom’s that were in storage. I decide to go get one and see if she remembers anyone.
Mom spent her entire career as an elementary teacher, and her first job was in a one-room rural school. This particular album appears to be from that time.
Thankfully she was really organized and detail-oriented, and she has written the names of these students on the front of the black and white photos.
“Who is this, Mom?”
“Oh, that’s Colleen. And this is her brother. Oh and that’s my first car, the Green Hornet.”
She remembers everything, and I learn details I’ve never heard before about the car she bought and then loaned to her friend who was also teaching in a one-room school.
The CNAs are as fascinated as I that Mom remembers these kids, many of whose own kids and grandkids Mom probably also taught during her nearly 40-year-career.
I can tell she’s getting tired. Her eyes give her away when she’s tired.
I wheel her back to her room and let the aide know she’s sleepy.
“Mom, I’m teaching a class tonight, so I’ve got to go and get ready.”
“Yes, you better go.”
I lean down to hug her and always end up squishing her face as she is saying “I love you, Jodee” and we laugh about it.
“Good night and God bless you.”
She’s said that to me since I was a baby, and it’s comforting to know she still does.
I leave her in the capable hands of whoever is on duty tonight, knowing that my Sheyenne Crossings family will take good care of her.
And I walk down the hall, stopping to greet Kim on the way out.
Today was a good day.
Jodee Bock is a certified Life Purpose and Career Coach and the author or co-author of seven books. She is the founder of her own company, Bock’s Office Transformational Consulting, and is also the Dean of LifeWorks University, an online learning portal that uses the principles of Think and Grow Rich as the foundation for creating the life of your dreams.
When she’s not writing, coaching or speaking, you can find Jodee singing with the City of Lakes Chorus, an award-winning barbershop chorus, keeping busy as the head scorekeeper for the North Dakota State University men’s and women’s basketball teams.
Her mom, Maurene Bock, is a resident of Sheyenne Crossings in West Fargo.