I'm on death watch with Used to Be Mother. She's not aware of my presence. Time crawls along as her breathing becomes more shallow and laboured. She's comfortable but restless at times. Periodic tremors shake the bed. As her body shuts down, emissions push their way out and it makes for a very unpleasant experience.
After a few hours, I go for a walk earlier. A sweet Italian woman named Angela joins me. She is eighty-seven. Her husband, Rudy, now 93 has been a resident here for two years. She tells me her knees hurt but she says with conviction: "I still gotta my mind." She has a bee in her bonnet today.
"That woman keeps coming into my husband's room." I know who she is talking about. I thought Rudy and the woman holding the stuffed bear were husband and wife. They would sit together in the dining room. Each time I come to see Mom they are together - well until just recently. Angena tells me she has complained to the nursing staff about how inappropriate this is. She is disgusted they won't do anything about it.
"They tell me Rudy and that woman are companions and good for one another. How can they be friends when he can't even talk?"
Angelina tells me she confronted the woman some months ago and the docile woman with the stuffed bear apparently hit her across the face.
"It's a terrible thing to be separated from your husband."
She lives alone in their home they bought sixty years ago. She tries to come as often as she can but she has to take a taxi or rely on a neighbour to bring her.
Angela isn't blaming Rudy. Good job because the guy, with his oxygen tank and wheel chair, doesn't look much like a Don Juan to me. But the woman with the stuffed teddy bear doesn't look like a seducer neither.
As we round the corner into the main lobby, we see June and Dennis. They have their arms around one another and whispering in that way young lovers do. I'm told they are not husband and wife. Veronica, the Irish woman, jumps up to meet Wayne who staggers towards the lobby area. Veronica is coming onto Wayne as only an eighty-five year old woman with dementia can. Wayne grins wildly at whatever she is saying to him. Donna, toothless and dependent on her walker, asks me where her husband is.
I leave Angela and head back to my mother. On the way, Vera greets me with her persistent request:" Are Bruce and Bonnie coming to see me today?" I assure her they are. She tells me they are going to put her in a nursing home because she forgets everything.
Though I understand how difficult this is for Angela, I know too how Rudy and the Stuffed Toy Seducer and Veronica and Wayne and June and Dennis all want to love and be loved.