Conversations with Mama: You never know what she will say and more… #47
April 5, 2018: I told Mama about Grace and her boots today, and how she hates to wear socks. She tried to sneak her rain boots on and thought I didn’t notice she had no socks on. After she clumped up the stairs in the boots and finished brushing her teeth, I told her to march in her room and put on socks and take the boots off, as she wasn’t wearing them to school today. She gave me a look, but went to her room and put on socks. Mama said… “I can only imagine what she said under her breath.” LOL, “but I didn’t hear it!”
“We had a cloud come in today, but it was gone soon. It came off a hurricane, up from Florida. Boo came on the bed, he knows when there is a storm. Whenever he hears a storm coming, you’re not going to find him… he usually hides. I went to the center today and let myself be seen. LOL”
Somehow I mentioned making a drink, and… “It was fun being a bartender. The guys always said, “if you don’t want Angel to know something, you better not say it… she reads all lips.”
April 6, 2018: When I asked her what she did for her birthday, she said… “I took the day off and laid in the bed… that’s how I celebrated. It’s just another day… it’s going to be a long time before I have another birthday. I didn’t go to the center today, but I went yesterday, so that’s enough for the week.”
I mentioned how Grace was running around today with no socks on… “My feet used to be tough but now I can’t even walk outside like that now. Even when we went to school, most of us would take our shoes off when we got there and put them under our desk.”
“Mr. Burke was my favorite teacher… I was a tomboy and he’d call me ET after my father… especially if he was mad at me; he was friends with my daddy. He taught me Algebra, and if it hadn’t been for him being my teacher, I’d never have learned. He taught in Siloam and Greensboro, but he had been the principal in Siloam.”
As mama talked about her classmates in school, she said… “I’d love to go to another class reunion and see who is still living. I’d also like to see Kendrick Lewis again, we grew up together, more like brother and sister.”
“I remember how Mr. Burke would get us all together to play baseball or basketball in the lower grades. He always knew I’d play – as I was a tomboy. I liked to play more with the boys than the girls. Mr. Burke lived just up the hill behind the schoolhouse in a yellow house. He always liked me, and I was often accused of being the teacher’s pet.”
Mama mentioned her mother and siblings how they were all so different and said… “My mother was stubborn, she wouldn’t budge on anything; Liza would cuss you out in a quick minute; Lewis was my favorite uncle, I loved when he came and spent the night as he took up time with me… they called him “kid” as a nickname; Christine would be with anyone who buttered her bread… if you fed her, she was your friend; Rolph was easy going and quiet, he often came and spent time with us; Mary was autistic, but she’d cuss you out quickly.”
In mentioning the Navy, mama said… “Some of the boys that were with your father at Millington Naval Base, just outside of Memphis, were the same boys that had been out on the ship with him at Bikini Atoll… I wish I’d thought to ask them about what happened there. He never talked about being out on the ships.”
Mama then asked me what Steve was doing… “he’s down in the cellar hammering and sawing… fixing that old Coca-Cola cooler he brought home from your house. He’s restoring it because that’s what he enjoys doing.” Mama said, “I think I had flowers planted in it at one time.”
April 8, 2018: I told mama about McKinley’s tooth incident… the tooth had been loose for several days and Melissa was worried so she took her to the dentist. He put a cotton ball around it and wiggled… and out it came. McKinley was so excited to put it under her pillow… receiving a one dollar bill the next morning, but… the day before the nurse at school had given her a special box to put her tooth in. Well, she had put the box under her pillow with the tooth inside… and was upset the next morning as the tooth fairy took her box… she had wanted it. Melissa told her to talk to the tooth fairy when she went to bed, and she could probably return it… she didn’t know you had wanted it. So that’s what McKinley did, and the box was returned, but she was still upset as the tooth fairy had not taken the special bracelet she had made her at the YMCA… another dilemma! Melissa told her again to talk to the tooth fairy and tell her about the bracelet and then she’d come for it. So I guess problems were eventually solved. Mama said… “who knew it was so difficult nowadays to deal with the tooth fairy, I never even knew about a tooth fairy when I was a kid. You lost a tooth…. And that was it, you got nothing!”
In talking about cats, I told mama about the 5 solid black cats I saw today sitting on someone’s front porch steps at the end of my street… I’d never seen them before. Mama said, “Well, then they will have good luck. Boo needs one, bring him a female black cat. After hearing his name said, he jumped up and I heard him talking. Usually, whenever she says his name, he jumps up on the bed and meows… loudly.”
April 10, 2018: I called mama, and no sooner than she answered… I yawned, and then she yawned. “That just doesn’t make sense to me, that you’re so far away yawning and you make me do it over the phone.”
“I don’t know what the kids would do today if they had to live on a farm. When my daddy told me what he wanted me to do, I had better do it or he’d have told me to get a hickory switch. When he said to do something, I better do it, or else! Kids today are out of control, that’s why too many young boys are locked up at the local jails. This world is getting to be a mess! It’s getting to be nothing but a big stinkpot.”
I mentioned that someone had gone on a cruise… “I don’t think they had cruises with gambling like they do now. If they had, your daddy would have gone. He always won when he gambled, he was a pretty good gambler.”
April 15, 2018: We were en-route to Mama’s house to spend a week with her when I received a phone call from the neighbor that an ambulance was in front of her house. She was going to run over and call me back. This was not the call I was expecting… and we were at least 5 hours away and driving in pouring rain. June called back, only knowing that she had shortness of breath and they were taking her to the local hospital… EKG had shown no heart attack. We finally arrived at the hospital to find that Mama had broken 2 ribs… and wanted to go home. LOL… They were going to transport her over to the Athens hospital so doctors could look at the cat scan of her head to further determine if they saw anything… which they didn’t. The only thing she could tell me was… “I had gone out to pay Johnny for cutting the grass and when I came back in, I stumbled going into the bedroom and fell. I crawled to the bed, hoping I’d feel better in the morning, but then I didn’t so I called 911.” So it seems, this happened on Saturday, and by Sunday morning she was short-winded because of the broken ribs.
April 17, 2018: It was not a good two-day stay in the hospital and she constantly told them she wanted to go home. They must have mentioned re-hab to her and she refused… and they didn’t tell me! I think she was already developing or already had a UTI and it was making her delirious somewhat, to the point of getting out of bed and I’m not quite sure what she did, but they called security to her room. I arrived to find she had removed her IV and bleeding… she was released to go home with no instructions other than to see her doctor. I brought her home, but it was a nightmare as she became more delirious and incontinent.
April 21, 2018: After a few days, I called the ambulance as I couldn’t even get her up, she was very disoriented on this Saturday morning. There was no way we could take her to the hospital ourselves. The doctors back in Athens now told me she had a UTI and pneumonia… the droplet catchy kind. We had to wear masks while in her room; very uncomfortable to wear for a long period of time. She became very combatant with them on the 4th floor that they called to tell me they had to restrain her. After a few days, they moved her to the cardiology floor, and that was all dissolved… as she was more agreeable, but still wanting to go home still!
April 26, 2018: Mama was sleeping when I arrived, but after occupational therapy came, she became more awake. She sat up in her chair and when lunch arrived she seemed to be hungry. She ate a little, I brushed her hair and she talked about her hair and what a mess it was, and told me… “When I get well, I want to go down to the farm and see how the people have remodeled the old farmhouse where I grew up.” They’ve been giving her sleeping aids as this UTI and pneumonia seem to make her delusional at night, although it didn’t every night. One Dr. called it “sundowning”… meaning that some people had issues with the nighttime and would become agitated. I think she had had more compassionate nurses on the orthopedic floor and this all started when she was moved to the medical and later the cardiology floor. They finally moved her down to a room directly across from the nursing station, so they could remove the restraints and be able to see into her room. Once there, she changed and the nurses there were better with her, although there were a couple on day 1 that didn’t sit well with me… they never came into her room again. That was good as I hadn’t been happy with the way they came in and answered my questions… I wondered why they were even a nurse? It takes special people to be a nurse… and they definitely didn’t fall into that category!
April 30, 2018: While visiting with Mama today, I mentioned meat boycotts after reading something on a blog… mama said, “I didn’t really cook much back then when that was happening. I was waitressing at The Nathanial Greene Restaurant and Mr. Caldwell always had the kitchen fix me a plate to take home to my father every night. I lived with him back on the farm then. Half the time he hardly ate much of it, he never had an appetite, just like me. When growing up on a farm, you can always find something to eat.” I thought Mama was going home today, but I arrived to find she had a 102 temp overnight, but really no fever now. She had eaten no breakfast and ate very little lunch of the mashed potatoes, meatloaf, and turnip greens; turned her nose up at it, and picked at it like a bird. One thing she did like was the sweet tea and had two glasses. Then I got her a chocolate Ensure… naturally, she downed it! “I’m so stuffed now, that sweet tea sure tasted good.”
In talking about my father she said… “your father was a daredevil in the Navy. He didn’t listen to them at the Bikini Atoll bomb blasts and jumped in the radioactive ocean water anyway. That’s what caused him to lose his teeth while in the service. One time my father showed him his double-barrel shotgun when he acted up. Daddy didn’t take any shenanigans. My father worked hard for his farm and for what he had… he loved that farm!”
“I wish I could go home as a young girl again and play basketball… I was Mr. Burke’s favorite on the basketball team. That was because I’d do whatever he asked of me and play whatever spot on the team he asked me to. I loved to shoot, but I didn’t always get that spot, but I could have if he’d have let me. He knew my father very well – he’d always sit with daddy at the filling station on Saturdays.”
May 1, 2018: While back at the hospital with mama this morning, I brought her strawberries. “Oh Boy, those look good. I remember one time when I was at Aunt Annie’s (Askew-McKinley), and I ate all the strawberries out of her patch; I bet she was mad when she found out later. I planted some in my flower garden, not sure if they’re going to come up this year.” Mama ate only one!
May 2, 2018: While sitting with Mama today, we watched Pickers on TV… “Daddy had all that stuff up in his barns. Those wooden boxes there on TV, he had those… they fit under the plows and the seeds dropped through them as he plowed. There were plows, hay rakes and all kind of farm machinery up there. It was all probably worth a fortune, but who thought to even sell it back then. After I rented the farmhouse and lived with Allan in Monroe, someone came in and stole it all. I hadn’t even thought about you taking it when you took the other things home, sure wish I had.”
When Mike on Picker’s was buying arrowheads, Mama said… “Daddy used to dig up so many, even solid black ones. All those arrowheads were probably worth a fortune, but I never thought about them being worth anything. When I was a kid, I’d go back on the back-forty and pick up all I wanted. When daddy plowed, I could just walk behind him and pick them up… his land was loaded with them… there were so many that he didn’t even pay any attention to them and just left them to lay in the fields. You had a box of them, but they slowly disappeared through the years.” I think I have one left out of all I once had!
As Mike was looking at an old T-model… “Daddy had one of those when he courted Mama. When I was a little girl, he bought an A Model. Later on, he bought one of the first Fords out with a rounded top. My brother and I used to play in the old T-Model when it was parked after he didn’t use it anymore.
In sitting in Mama’s room here in the hospital and listening to the many who came in and out of her room… and saying “well bless your heart”…. I hadn’t heard that said in a long time. And while they’ve been giving her diuretics to keep the fluid build-up out of her lungs, I’ve never heard someone say so much… “I have to pee.” LOL
May 4, 2018: The past couple of days, Mama was supposed to have left the hospital for rehab… she’s finally relented, after much persuasion… but not happy! The Dr. has finally given the OK for her to leave after the last cat scan and x-rays have given good results. She will be going to Park Place, a local rehab and nursing facility in her hometown… much easier for me and hopefully her friends will visit once I return home for a few weeks.
We arrived about the same time the ambulance did with Mama… I’m hoping she will settle in and not fight her therapy. She wasn’t happy as she watched me unpack clothes and mark them… “you think I’m staying here for forever, I don’t need all those clothes?”
May 6, 2018: While visiting today with Mama I told her that I just learned from June (neighbor) that the new Nancy Drew movie was being filmed in her hometown later this month into late June. Nancy Drew books debuted 22 days after Mama was born… if only grandmamma had bought one and saved it, it’d be worth over $10,000. “My mama probably didn’t even know what a Nancy Drew was back then.”
June 7, 2018: I arrived to find Mama en-route to physical therapy this morning, so I followed to see how it would go; it was more of an evaluation session, but they did have her walk out into the hallway with a walker. She was pooped after that session. If she only had an appetite, then she’d have more strength, but she basically turns her nose up at all the foods they bring her… she never turns her nose up at a chocolate Ensure though! I don’t understand the loss of appetite thing, but she drinks enough of those energy drinks a day. I called the doctor about trying a pill to attempt to bring back her appetite so the sight of food interests her more. He did prescribe one, so hopefully, we will see soon if it works.
June 8, 2018: In knowing what time therapy would be, I arrived to find her already there and beginning to work out… she made a face at me when I came! She did good in all they asked of her, and I think she’ll do better as she gets more comfortable with them and being there. She chatted them up, making them laugh. She walked about halfway back to her room before sitting down in the wheelchair… pooped. Even after that workout, she wanted no lunch, drank an Ensure and took a nap. I told her we’d be back after her nap to say goodbye as we were leaving for home the next day. “I’m going to really miss you,” she said.
We came back that evening to say goodbye and bring Mama an early Mother’s Day present… brought her some goodies of candy and cokes for her room and a fluffy velour pillow that said Happy Mother’s Day! Her eyes lit up… “I love it, it’s so soft.” “I hate that you have to go home, I’m going to really miss you guys… and I know Boo will be missing you too!”
June 9, 2018: I called mama when we stopped for the night in VA… the nurses have phones they bring to their room when you call, but whether she was groggy or the phone had a bad connection, she wasn’t hearing me too well. She did tell me… “I’m doing my therapy, I’ll do whatever they tell me to do, I just want to get out of her. How much longer do I have to stay here?”
June 13, 2018: I called mama around dinner time to wish her a Happy Mother’s Day and asked if she had received anything today. “I don’t think so, but I might not remember. When I asked about how therapy was going… “Yes, I like the therapy, I can walk pretty good. I just hope I’m not here much longer as I want to go home and see Boo and sleep in my own bed. I feel stronger. They cut my hair the other day if you can call this a haircut… she chopped it! That woman shouldn’t be allowed to even hold a scissor in her hands… she wasn’t friendly, had a mean face. I won’t let her ever cut my hair here again.” (I messaged Donna to check out her hair when she goes this week and let me know) I called back to the nurse’s station and they said yes the chocolate covered strawberries that Melissa had sent, arrived. They took it to her and read the card, but in trying one, she said it was too cold so they took it back to put in the fridge. I asked them if they could take her back one so it could warm up a bit and she’d eat it later.
Like to read more… click on Conversations with Mama and more
© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved