Wednesday, December 26, 2012

At the nursing home and back in the kitchen on Christmas Eve

As simple as it was, this year made for quite a memorable Christmas Eve for me.   For the first time since Mom's been there - nearly 3 years now - we all gathered to spend Christmas Eve with her.  At Mom's request, my sister-in-law and my niece made stew and we all met at the nursing home to share a simple supper with mom.  We thought we arrived early enough to get a nice spot near the fireplace in the "living room" but we were too late.  We asked an aide for help finding some place private - mainly because we're loud not because we didn't want to be with others - the only place free and large enough was the rehab kitchen.  It's a large room with a big table and all the basic stuff  you find in any home - range, fridge, sink, microwave....  We were a little frustrated not to find a better spot but we aren't complainers so we settled in to eat and talked and gave each other a hard time.  It was quite relaxing and soon 2 hours had slipped away.

About then I looked at Mom and she was smiling with tears running down her cheeks, she said, "It's just like home, Christmas Eve in the kitchen...", we all got quiet for a minute and laughed.  You see, my parents home was small but their kitchen was huge - it really dominated the house.  The table was oak, sturdy and probably five feet in diameter. At the holiday's we'd cook, family would bring extra food and we'd lay it out on the cabinets, the sink, the appliances -  every flat spot - for a buffet; then we squeezed around each other to fill plate and down to eat at that big table. It made no difference to us what it looked like as long as everyone got plenty to eat. 

By arriving a little late Fate and that aide put us in just the right spot to make mom feel more at home than she has in 3 years.  It's a simple thing, to feel "at home" but when someone is in an institution like a nursing home, it's huge. For her it felt "normal" again; she'll remember that feeling for what's left of the rest of her life.  It might be enough to sustain her mood, help her feel content and loved.  At this point, it's the greatest gift we can give to her.  
Christmas in Idaho, Mom's last christmas.