Saturday, April 07, 2007

Easter Vigil

Liz and I went to the Easter Vigil at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue. Years ago, Liz’s brother taught at Saint Thomas Choir School, and three of Liz’s nephews went to the school. But that’s not why we went. We went because for us Holy Week was completely wacko and the vigil at St. Thomas started at 5:30 so we would have a relatively early evening.

Last week I wrote “I have no idea how my Holy Week will play out. I don’t want to miss Tenebrae, the Thursday night vigil, or the Good Friday service at St. Mary’s, but what will be will be.” As it happened I missed them all. Liz did get to Tenebrae on Wednesday, but for us the rest was a wash out.

The first half of Holy Week was spent getting my mother into the nursing home. Because she was not coming from the hospital, the procedures were unfamiliar to everyone. When I got to Binghamton late Monday afternoon, I found out that the nursing home had a place for my mother – some papers had to picked up for the doctor to fill out, and then she could be admitted.

Tuesday morning I asked my uncle to pick up the papers and then I delivered them to the doctor’s office. Around noon that day I was told they would not be ready until the next morning. That afternoon I took my mother for a drive. We went to Heart Lake, about thirty miles from her home, where our family has been going since the 1920's. When we got to Binghamton I drove her past the house where she was a teenager and where her grandparents also lived. Then we went past the house where her father grew up and where her grandmother and aunts lived when she was young. She really enjoyed it and said so even the next day.
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On Wednesday, I arranged for a medivan to take mother to the nursing home and I went to get the papers at the doctor’s office. After a slight delay caused by a flat tire, I got the papers to the nursing home, only to discover that they were not correctly filled out and that the doctor would have to see her. So we went home for lunch, and then to the doctor’s office, and finally back to the nursing home. That was three more medivan rides for my mother. But finally she was admitted mid-afternoon on Wednesday. It was too late for me to drive home safely Wednesday. I went back to the nursing home after her supper and then returned to her apartment and that was when the magnitude of the step we ware taking hit me. Although she is there ostensibly for short term rehab, it seems very unlikely that anyone will consider that it is safe for her to return home.
Tenebrae for me was experiencing the shadows of my mother’s decline.

Thursday morning I left early and returned to New York, getting here shortly after ten in the morning. Liz had an important telephone call at 2 PM and as soon as that was over we got in the car and drove back to Binghamton and went direct to the nursing home. My mother was in good spirits and we did an assessment of what we needed to bring to increase her comfort. We got back to her apartment and made a supper of some leftovers.
That was our Maundy Thursday.

Friday morning Liz put together some things to brighten mother’s room – a picture of her and my father, a couple of plants, some dresser scarves, and a large numeral digital clock.among other things. When we got to the nursing home, we were pleased that she was having lunch in the main dining room rather than on her floor. Liz had the idea of interchanging the bed and a bedside dresser in her room and we set up the things we had brought, and then joined mother for the end of her lunch. When we got her back to the room, she was pleased with the changes. We left her just before two and drove back to New York, getting here about 5 PM. I bought the makings of a very un-Good Friday supper, not a crawfish boil but spaghetti with a meat sauce including sausages. We enjoyed the supper and tumbled into bed fairly early.
That was our Good Friday.

Today we caught up at home. I thought a little about going to the noon service at St. Mary’s today, but I didn’t manage to make that happen. So we went to the Vigil at Saint Thomas which was something of a disappointment. Perhaps it’s just us, but both Liz and I found it strangely unsatisfying. It seemed to be form without substance. If I get a chance, I may say more about that at another time.

I’m going to rush and post this, so I can go to bed (it’s 11 PM) and get up in time to go to the 6 AM service at St. Maty’s.

1 comment:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Allen, I've been there and done that, including the papers filled out wrong by the doctor's office. What can I say but that it's heart-wrenching to place a parent in a nursing home, even if only "temporarily". My mother never made her way out.

When we visit New York, we stay at a hotel within walking distance of St. Thomas, St. Mary, and St. Bart's I've only been to a service at St. Bart's, and I was not all that impressed. Still, it was the same Eucharist. That's what's important.

God bless you and Liz as you care for your mother. I pray that your mother will be reasonably contented in her new abode.