I love visiting Meems during nap time. She takes a morning nap and an afternoon nap. She has dinner at 5:00, and then, back to bed she goes. So, "nap time" visits are the norm. A couple of weeks ago, I tiptoed into her room and gently lowered the bedrail on one side of her bed before nestling up beside her. Somehow, she sensed my presence because she slowly opened one eye and stared at me for a minute. "Are you Carolyn?" she asked. "Yup," I answered. Slowly, her sweet pink face blossomed into a one-eyed sweet smile.
"So, how are you doing today, Mom?"
From somewhere in the galaxy that exists between awake and asleep she softly replied, "Good."
"Last night I wasn't good," she whispered.
"Why weren't you good last night?"
"I thought that I was dying."
Freeze frame right there. Whut? You thought you were dying? My mind bounced from one random thought to another. Why did no one call to tell me that Mom was teetering on the precipice of the Great Beyond? Surely someone from Hospice would have sent up a flair or something. Had a bereavement team been contacted? Is there such a thing as a bereavement team?
Then, I came to my senses.
"What made you think you were dying?"
"I didn't have enough to eat."
Hmm. "So, you were dying of starvation last night?"
"Did you not eat a good supper?"
"They forgot to feed us."
Meems eats three square meals every day. Two of those meals include dessert. Many of her thoughts tend to be food-centric, so it makes sense that death by starvation is at the forefront her wispy, twirling thoughts. "I went to a family reunion yesterday. They didn't serve breakfast because none of them like breakfast." Along with the three square meals she also has a hearty amount of Hershey's chocolate every day because at the ripe old age of ninety-two, she can eat whatever she pleases. Hershey's chocolate is very, very pleasing to her.
I grew up going to church twice on Sundays and every Wednesday night. If the doors of the church were even cracked open a tiny bit, Meems and "the girls" (my sister and me) were there. The woman has studied the Bible from top to bottom and front to back. Hearing her mention that she thought she was dying made me wonder what her opinion was about the possibly-dying-situation. It occurred to me that she might have seen an angel standing at the foot of her bed beckoning her to follow the light or something. I decided to "go there."
"Well, how did you feel when you thought you were dying?"
I fully expected a response that reflected her reassurance of salvation or anticipation of meeting God, Jesus 'n' them at the pearly gates. I wondered if she would mention the joy that she would feel being reunited with my sister, my brother and her beloved three brothers.
I anxiously waited to hear her sweet words extolling the glories that await her in Heaven.
I repeated the question more slowly enunciating each syllable with a little added volume.
"Mom? How did you feel when you thought you were dying?"
Her response got me kind of tickled. I guess no matter how old you are, the thought of your own demise is not a "good" thought.
Then, it gave me pause. Has dementia deleted from her mind everything she learned from the Bible? Has she lost all of those years of sitting in pews taking notes and singing anthems in the choir? The lyrics to "When We All Get to Heaven" are long gone. Sadly, she doesn't remember most of her loved ones - on earth or in heaven.
At first, I felt sad. Then, I laughed again.
Won't she be shocked when she opens her eyes in Heaven!? Heck, I get pretty excited if I find a long forgotten five dollar bill in the pocket of an old winter coat. I envision the pearly gates opening wide before her revealing all of her long forgotten loved ones jumping up and down shouting "SURPRISE!" This will be the bonanza of all possible surprises because she will be able to see their faces (no more macular degeneration) AND remember they are, indeed, her people. I wonder if like me finding a ragged five dollar bill, she will exclaim, "I forgot that I had you!"
Meems, I reckon when the time comes for you to "starve" to death, it will be a good day. A very, very good day. And, I promise you this: You will slip off into eternity with Hershey's Chocolate breath. I GAR-un-tee that the first words out of Kathy's mouth after she shouts "SURPRISE!" will be "Mom! Have you been eating chocolate?!"
Yes, oh, yes. What a glorious day it will be.