Friday, November 6, 2009

Just a visit

Today I visited my mother in Hattiesburg. It was just a visit, no doctors’ appointments, emergency room visits, hospital stays, consultations with home health care or dealing with a flurry of medication changes.

We had shared a lot of “just visits” since she made the decision to move to a studio apartment at the Provisions Living retirement community in Hattiesburg in April. She celebrated her 90th birthday with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in June at our home in Ocean Springs. 

With other Provisions residents who have June birthdays, she celebrated again at a cake and ice cream party at Provisions.

But my favorite visits were just hanging out, laughing, reminiscing, talking about the books we were reading, sharing Scripture that was on our minds, and playing Scrabble, Skip Bo or Rummicube – which she occasionally let me win.

That had changed by August when a series of falls and major physical and mental declines turned our visits into that unrelenting medical scramble of two steps forward and three steps back.  One of the blessings of retirement is that I could be with her and work closely with all medical and Provisions personnel without trying to balance both a demanding job and her needs. Even during less-than-coherent weeks, her sly sense of humor cropped up along with her typical concern for, appreciation of and interest in everyone around her. The extreme low sodium that accelerated her condition is now closer to normal and Mother is feeling more herself.

When I arrived at Provisions yesterday she was just finishing breakfast with friends. From the left, clockwise, are her long-time friend and fellow retired teacher Dot Kelly, new friends Wayne and Cleone Utterback, and my mother, Annette Carpenter.

Our morning flew by with a little furniture rearranging, replacing a defective power strip, sharing a prayer for family members and playing Skip Bo. 

Then we joined more than 20 other Provisions residents for a bus ride to the grand opening of GattiTown. The new pizza eatery treated the residents to the lunch buffet and an opportunity to sample the challenges of the game room.

Maggie Youngblood, right, serves Provision resident A. G. Welch at GattiTown. Youngblood, a New Orleans native, and Larry Keeton of Butler, AL, are completing a practicum at Provisions as part of their degree program in recreational therapy at the University of Southern Mississippi. The two students joined the Provisions resident assistants in supplying a little extra cheerful help at GattiTown. 

Wyona Cress, Provisions resident, is the proud mama of the GattiTown principal owner, Gary Cress. Mrs. Cress is one of a number of residents who are members of Main Street Baptist Church and who were an integral part of my growing up years in that church. A real benefit of Mother’s choice of living arrangements is that she knows so many people there. Every visit includes seeing someone who enriched my childhood.

After lunch Mother and I played a couple more hands of Skip Bo, and it was time to say goodbye. Next week we will be making a followup doctor’s appointment. But for today, it was just a visit. What a blessing.

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