My birthday is today, but I celebrated yesterday. I dragged my husband and kids, plus my daughter’s bff, out to see “The Hunger Games.” This was followed by an ambitious plan to spring my mother from the nursing home for a couple of hours to go eat at IHOP.
I was excited to get to spend my birthday with her. I can’t remember the last time that happened. She seemed excited to be able to go out with us. Yet, I had a lot of fear, too. Unhelpful thoughts presented themselves again and again: “What if she falls? What if, while I’m responsible for her, I accidentally let her fall? What if she can’t get into our van? What if she can get in, but not out?” It’s like learning how to handle a baby. “What if I drop it?”
We took a step-stool, since it is a big step up into the van. This was useless. We eventually figured out the best way for Mom to get up into the seat was to turn around with her back to it, and kind of scooch up with my help. At one point, she did think she was going to fall, and called out. But I had her. It was a relief to realize I really had her and I was capable of making sure she didn’t fall in the process of getting seated. I kept a continual body check going during the entire process. For the second time, I found myself glad that I’ve put on a few pounds. (The first time was when I read that women who gain weight in their forties have lower rates of osteoporosis.) Even if my Mom had started to tilt out, she’d only fall against me, and she wouldn’t budge me. At this point, she weighs a slight 110 pounds or so. And I weigh…more than that.
So, it all worked. We got Mom into the van, out of the van, into the restaurant, and we had a birthday dinner – three generations of us. My kids came through, carrying my tote bag for me while I helped their grandma, stepping ahead to hold doors open, and other little helpful things.
By the time Mom was back to her room, I could tell she was pretty worn out. But she seemed very please, too, as was I. We did it! And she didn’t fall.