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Lions Roar : January 2019
Mom’s mailbox with oversized cards featuring the Queen or tourist shots of double-decker buses and Big Ben. I taped them up on every free surface in Mom’s room, and she would laugh and point gleefully at them. Our relationship was no longer about me and my tastes, comfort levels, or expectations of her. It was far from easy. It was exhausting, in fact, to pay such attention, but with no other family there, it was necessary and indeed worth it. To my surprise, I gradually grew fonder and fonder of her and who she was at heart. When I slowed down to be fully with Mom, I also saw more depth in the nursing home experience than I had expected. People who live in nursing homes are full of life. Beneath the restrictions of their diminishing physicality and cognition, their spirit is often strong; I know my mother’s was. And the more I visited her, the stronger and more loving she became. She would break out in a joyful grin whenever she saw me walk down the corridor, a far cry from the critical look up and down or remark about my unruly hair that I was used to from her. Her fellow residents began to show me who they were too. Rather than rush by them, speeding to get to my mother’s room and its relative safety, I started to actually see them. I began to greet each one. I learned their names and something about them so we could converse regularly. We made jokes with each other. I would often find myself with a smile on my face looking across the dining room as I helped Mom eat, the complete opposite of the look of horror I first wore when sitting in that room. REPRINTEDWITHPERMISSIONFROMTHECHRONICLEHERALD Dinnertime Susan MacLeod draws St. Vincent’s Nursing Home resident Jean Storey. Drawing the residents helped MacLeod see their life, humor, and spirit within the realities of their physical condition. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 71