Yesterday marked Mother’s third Monday morning at the Dietert Center’s Take Five Club. The Thursday before her first visit, the program director came by the house to introduce herself so that Mother would be able to see at least one familiar face upon arrival. When I told Mother about the visit that evening, she asked why.
“To talk to you about the Take Five Club.”
“I’m really not interested in going.”
“Mom, you need to give it a try. It’s hard on me being your only social contact! I need you to at least give it a shot!”
“Well, is the bathroom nearby? I’m worried about sometimes making it to the bathroom in time.”
“I’m sure they have a bathroom right there.”
“Will you stay with me?”
“I can’t stay with you every time, but yes, I could stay the first time or two.”
Mary arrived shortly and was so warm and friendly that Mother was soon agreeing that Take Five sounded like fun. When Mom mentioned that I would be staying, Mary said, “Oh, no, she’ll just go on to work and pick you up at the end.”
Mother then gave me “the look” which was my cue to speak up and say that I had already promised to stay that first time. I amended that I wouldn’t be staying in the same room, because that might disrupt the program, but that I would bring a book and be nearby. That seemed to satisfy her, and Mary eventually left, telling Mother that she would see her the following Monday morning.
As we stood in the kitchen, watching Mary’s car pull out of the driveway, I asked, “So, does it really sound like fun, or were you just being polite?”
“No, it does sound like it might be fun.”
“Oh, good. I’m glad.”
By Sunday night, however:
“Well, I wish I didn’t have to go to that old place tomorrow.”
“Well, Mom, I wish you were looking forward to it more.”
We arrived at the Center the next morning, promptly at 10 a.m., and found ourselves the first to arrive. Mary offered to take Mother’s coat and purse to hang on the wall hooks, but Mother declined. We were then ushered into the sitting area, consisting of comfy looking couches, recliners, and end tables with happy-looking house plants. Mother sat with her purse beside her leg and her jacket pulled close around her, legs crossed and arms folded, giving Mary short, polite answers to conversational inquiries.
Others began arriving, and I stayed until the activities started, then excused myself to an adjoining room. I perused the lending bookshelves, made a couple of phone calls, and read a magazine until about an hour had passed. Then I peeked around the corner to find Mother’s body language completely changed. He arms were relaxed into her lap, she had a smile on her face, and she seemed quite engaged by what the director was saying.
I took that as my opportunity, and stepped in the room to tell her that I had some errands to run. She confirmed that I would be returning right afterward, and I agreed. She smiled and said, “ok”, and turned back to what was happening with the group. I went back to work, and when I returned to pick her up at 2 p.m., she was surprised that it was already time to go.
When we got to the car, I asked her about her morning, and she told me about singing songs, having lunch, and getting to pet Bennie the Bunny, a therapeutic pet visiting for the day. I was afraid to ask her if she was going back the next week and hear her knee-jerk “no” that usually comes to new ideas. I figured I would have plenty of time to broach the subject before Monday rolled around again.
And so I did: my niece came to visit and I asked Mom to tell us about her first experience with the Take Five Club. She seemed happy to do so, and I picked up the Dietert Center lunch menu to show to Vickie. I then pointed to the following Monday and said, “Mom, look. You’ll be having spaghetti for lunch when you go back next Monday.”
“Am I going back?”
“Well, of course! You had a good time, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. You’re sure it’s not too much trouble for you to leave work to take me and pick me up?”
“Mom, it’s more troublesome to me worrying about you being at the house all day, every day, with nothing to do and no one to talk to.”
“Well, ok, then.”
The following Monday, when we pulled up to the Center, Mother said, “Oh, this is it? We’re here already? Ok, see you at 2 o’clock!”
And she hopped out of the car and went right in without a backward glance.