I can honestly say that today was the best day at Atria. Ever.
We had Brain Gymnasium at 10 a.m. She really didn't want to go, but went and brought the folder I'd given to her. Everyone seems to bring their "home play" to class in folders and I have all these folders left over from the information they give me when I review a play. I chose the Wizard of Oz folder for me and the Les Miserables for her, since I told her she looks so miserable when I try to take her to the activity!
I couldn't find my folder, though, and thought I'd left it in the car, so I sent her on to find the class on her own (which she did!). Turns out I left the folder at the front desk. The class had sort of started when I got there and Michael was trying to get my mother to remember the date (she and I had gone over that before we left her apartment, but she had forgotten).
My mother was doing what she always does when she finds herself stumped. She made jokes, and laughed about being "95," but this is week 3 and Michael is on to her now and, though kind, gentle, and understanding, would not let her get away with it this time. For one thing I said that she was 93, not 95, and for another one of the participants in another class is 100 and "sharp as a tack," so he said he's not letting her get away with claiming she's too old to think.
Amazingly, by answering his questions ("was the holiday this month a long time ago or a short time ago?" etc.), she actually got the date right! We all cheered. The next question concerned figuring out a date based on knowing what today is. Once again, she started joking and he wouldn't let her and by God she eventually got THAT answer right too.
We did a couple of geography games and though she struggled, she didn't make any more mistakes or struggle any harder than everyone else in the class--including me. Michael also made it fun by having us pass around a rubber chicken and if you were left holding the rubber chicken when the timer went off, you lost 27,000 points (I asked him how many you would have left and he said nobody had ever asked him that before).
Anyway, it was fun and she seemed to like it and she actually seemed to be working. Michael said he could see that she was starting to get it. No guarantee that this will continue, but I was optimistic for the first time today.
By the time we leave on our vacation next week, when I will be gone for 3 of these classes, I hope to find someone in the class who will volunteer to pick her up for class each week, so she doesn't give up.
I hadn't intended to stay for lunch, but it was Mexican day and lunch sounded good, so I decided to stay. I'm thinking that eating with her once a week would be nice, not too expensive for her and she knows that she has someone to talk with when I come.
We sat down at a table, which she told me is "her" table (go figure!) because she tries to sit there all the time. In short order we were joined by Loretta, 83, who said she had just come in from a shopping trip and was exhausted. She is an artist, a former singer, and seems to be a very nice lady. She and my mother both decided to have wine with their lunch (I stuck to water).
The longer they lunch went on, the giddier they got and the whole thing was just really fun for all of us. I hope we see more of Loretta, since she seems to be a person who might turn out to be a real friend for her (though maybe I'm being premature about that).
Before we left, my friend Peg stopped by. She had been eating in a small group on the other side of the dining room. Apparently Loretta is in her Brain Gymnasium class. She asked my mother if she had this week's "home play." My mother didn't know, but I said that she did. She asked if she could borrow it, and was going to stop by my mother's apartment to get it. This would be the first resident to come and visit and I hope that it went well.
These are all such tiny little things, but given what I've been observing over the past month and a half, this was such a "normal" day, with my mother participating, fitting in, and making friends. I am breathing so much easier tonight!
Walt set up a little dining room table for her yesterday. It is a drop-leaf table that we found in his mother's storage unit. It nicely fills the only "blank" place in the apartment and she feels that it feels like home and no longer a motel.
In fact, it feels so much like home to her that she sat in her chair today, with me in the other chair and she looked around and said "Bev, what are you going to do with all this crap when I die?"