Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Lobby

The lobby has recently been remodeled. The revolving glass doors open up into a room with high ceilings and more than ample light. Upon entering, on the left there is the counter for the doormen.  2 men stand, idly chatting.  As I walk in, I am greeted warmly by both of them. Even though I do not live here, mine is a face they recognize and a story they know only too well.

It is in this lobby that I find my mother. She is sitting, at a rather odd angle in her wheelchair. There is a pillow resting behind the small of her back, to help try to alleviate some of the discomfort. She seems to be sliding downward a little. There is a band-aid over the bridge of her nose. It was not there yesterday.

Mary sits on the couch next to my mother. "What happened"? She tells me that my mom was with the woman from hospice yesterday when she fell forward out of the wheelchair.

I touch my mom's nose gently. "What are you doing?" she asks rather brusquely. "Mom, you fell earlier and banged your nose a little. I just wanted to make sure you were ok". She relaxes, taking my words as assurance of my intent.

The lobby is my mom's de facto living room. It is from here that she can sense, if not quite see, everyone who scurries to and from their appointed rounds. There is activity and she wants to be a part of it, or at least near it.

She complains about her back pain. "Mom, do you want to go upstairs and lie down?".  "No" she replies, as I can tell that she is not ready to signal her retreat into isolation.  I wheel her up and down the lobby for several minutes.

There is a second couch, nearer to the entrance. A man, younger than my mom, sits here. He is clearly in the early stages of decline. I have seen him often as I hurry to the elevator. For him, like my mom, this area has added significance.

He engages us in conversation. "Do you want to see the pictures of my granddaughter?" I admire her great beauty, and he smiles broadly. I am sure I will not be the last today, or in future days, to view and comment on these same images.

I worry about my mom being an intruder in this space. I worry that others might voice objection that this is not a nursing home and that she should not be down here expanding the boundaries of her apartment. I worry that her sudden cries, looking for her mother, or shouting for Mary, who is right beside her, will not always be tolerated.  I worry what some will think about her habit of removing her dentures.

Soon, fatigue and aches overcome her. I wheel my mom into the elevator and back up to her apartment. Shortly she will be back in bed, separated from the rest of society in so many ways.

Despite my reservations, I hope that tomorrow  my mom and I spend more time in the lobby. It is, after all, to her and therefore to me, a window into life.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Beautiful piece, dad.