Mom was a nursing home resident and due to COVID19, we could visit her outside, until it got too cold. It was difficult, at best, seeing as we had to remain masked and six feet apart. She is deaf and her hearing aids got lost in the shuffle several years ago. It seemed as if she felt muzzled, like a dog, with her mask on. She just didn’t move with it in place. It was difficult to engage her with her hearing deficit. Instead, I wrote questions and statements on a white board assuming, that at 96, she could still read, in spite of her dementia.
My next visit was a window visit. We didn’t have to wear our masks, since I was outside and she was inside. It was still difficult to communicate. Again, I brought the white board and markers. I would write a message. The nurse, who was sitting with her, would gently jiggle her shoulder to awaken her, “Shirlee, you’ve got a new message!” Mom would open her eyes, read the board and shrug or nod to answer. A one-sided conversation is exhausting, but it’s all we could do, with the Pandemic restrictions.
It was heart-wrenching, frustrating, and incredibly sad to experience. I tried not to think back to my last in-person visit in early March. it seemed that the only way to get through this was to realize it was all out of my control. Everything. All of it. And somehow, thankfully, those words gave me peace and freedom from pain. There are just some things that dictate our lives and this was one of them. And I learned to peacefully live with it.