All of the Bells, But Not All at Once

A sampling of the bells


One thing you don’t get in a skilled nursing facility is a lot of space. My mom’s shared room reminds me of my dorm in college, including the bathroom that’s also used by the residents in the next bedroom over. Mom has the bottom half of a two-tiered wardrobe for hanging clothes plus whatever can sit on the shelf below them. She also has three dresser drawers, some counter space, her bed, of course, a recliner, a two-drawer nightstand and a high shelf attached to the wall. We provided her a footstool that doubles as a storage bin.

Mom has very few of her possessions actually with her. Many are at my house, and others are with my oldest sister. Since I’m nearest geographically now, I got custody of Mom’s cherished bells.

She’s collected bells for years. You never had to think too hard on gift-giving occasions. If you couldn’t come up with anything else, she’d always love another bell.  Some are glass, some porcelain, some pewter. Some commemorate places or events. I think she owns around 100 altogether. She and I decided she had room for three on her shelf. This is not only an issue of space; it’s also an issue of keeping track of things in a setting where all sorts of people are coming and going and the door to her room remains unlocked. I’ve used permanent marker to put her name inside each bell. If one does wander away somehow and then turn up later, we’ll know it’s hers because it’s labeled.

When we were first getting Mom settled and discussing what she could/should have with her in the room, my sister was the one who pointed out to us that Mom could still have all of her bells, just not all at once. It could be a rotating collection. Brilliant! I work in a library. I’m familiar with this concept.

Every couple of weeks I dig into the boxes in my spare bedroom and bring Mom a different bell, then take one from her room back to my house. This gives us something to talk about, too. She can tell me what she remembers about where she got each one, or who gave it to her. We’ve taken some nice strolls down memory lane, prompted by a starting bell.



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