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  • by Carolyn Lackey

What a Day of Rejoicing it Will Be


Many of you have asked how Meems is doing and whether or not I've been able to visit her. She spends each day in a state of suspended animation. Her voice is soft and raspy. Sometimes I can understand her quiet words. Sometimes I just nod my head reply "I know" to whatever garbled thought has come out of her mind and mouth. Her body is rigid. Her biggest accomplishment on any given day is slowly lifting her plastic sippy cup to her lips and guiding the straw into her mouth for a sip of lemonade.

As far as visitation goes.

She lives in a small, homelike setting with five other women of various ages and stages. They are all vulnerable to the ominous virus that is settling like a dense fog across our nation.

There is a sign on the front door of her "home" that lists all of the reasons a person should think twice before entering. If your conscience and health status are clear, you ring the doorbell and wait for the caregiver to let you in. Once in the entryway, a form must be filled out every time you visit.

Fever?

Cough?

Headache?

Been out of the country?

You know the drill.

Then, the caregiver lightly touches your forehead with a digital thermometer. If you pass through all of these checkpoints, you must go straight into the bathroom in the hall and scrub your hands like a surgeon. Visitors are no longer allowed in the common areas of the home. Starting Monday, I decided to no longer kiss Meems' sweet, gaunt cheeks or touch her skin. I simply stand near the foot of her bed and gently pat her frail, boney legs through her blankets while singing out, "Mom! I'm your daughter, Carolyn! You're my mom! We're best friends." It is rare that she acknowledges me with even a trace of awareness. To pass the time, "we" watch a TCM movie or a Dr. Phil rerun together. I sit on her yellow floral loveseat with a crossword puzzle book balanced on my legs and bask in the sweet peace of her environment for an hour or so.

This situation is bound to change in the next few days now that three Lubbock people have tested positive for COVID-19. The state will surely mandate a "no visitor" policy soon and very soon. That will be very, very difficult for this momma's girl.

One thing that has weighed heavy on my heart (Alan would call it "borrowing trouble") is the troubling thought of losing her during this time of quarantine. Meems loved her a good funeral especially if there was a meal involved. She loved honoring the lives of her friends and family. "It was so beautiful! Did you know that when she was young she taught herself how drive a car?" Long ago, Mom made a list of songs for her funeral. We had many candid conversations about her "celebration of life." "Don't call it a funeral, that sounds sad. It shouldn't be sad because I'll be in Heaven." "There won't be anyone there because so many of my friends are already gone. Can you round up some paid mourners?" I'd chuckle, but I think she was serious.

I've kept these slips of paper with the mysterious hole punches for going on 20 years. (click on image to start "slide show")

Come on, Meems! Hold on 'til the fog lifts! I'm looking forward to gathering with family and friends to celebrate you. We'll feast on chicken spaghetti and mysterious potluck salads. Once we're back to our normal routines, people will be attending every everything in droves. I'll do my very best to celebrate you in an uplifting, light-hearted, fun fashion.

I already know what the postlude will be. It's not on the list. It's so you. So, fun and upbeat. You'd be strutting down the aisle leading the "band." I'll do you proud.

Now I'm making myself cry. Goodbye.


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