My mom’s entire day is shaped by the first few moments after she wakes. Sometimes she is playful and funny as a five year old. She doesn’t want to get up if it’s chilly and she’ll goof around with the blankets to distract me from launching the first steps of her daily routine.
We can laugh for a while when she’s in these moods. But I know that if I can’t move her out of the comedy routine and into the shower, she will be very stressed out when her bus pulls into the driveway and she isn’t ready. Stress activates the tremor in her right arm and, if that happens, it will be much harder to get her jacket on. This will cast a shadow over the rest of her morning and she will strain to recover some equilibrium.
This morning I could tell that she was disoriented. Her eyes were already open when I walked in the room. She looked at me for a minute and then asked, “Are you Jill?” (That’s my sister.) I told her I was not Jill — Jill had gone home the night before.
Then she looked at me a little harder and asked, “Am I okay?”
I told her she was. It’s not exactly true but how else can you answer someone in need of reassurance about the value of their own life.
She waited another minute and said, “So you’re sure I’m okay?”
I practically guaranteed her that she was. And somehow this persuaded her to get out of bed with a smile. After that, the rest of the morning was a piece of cake.