Jen and I loaded both our vehicles up with a new La-Z-Boy, six people worth of presents, one pie and two quiches, a dozen banana nut muffins, the coffeemaker, a gallon of homemade stuffing, and her brother sans luggage after his flight arrived late at Reagan National. We got into Pax River at about 9pm.
Mrs. Lockard is installed in the family room, in a portable hospital bed. She is pretty much immobile. Her sleeping, feeding, and waking are controlled by a pharmacy’s worth of medications, administered dutifully by the family, and recorded in a book. She’s mostly awake for a short while in the mornings, and then more pain medication is administered so that she can be moved from one side to the other. Moving her is a three-person operation, which involves arranging her legs, which she can’t control, her torso, which she can’t move, and her head. There is very little dignity. A specific method is used to arrange her feet, legs, and back, so that she can spend eight to twelve hours laying in one position. Mercifully, there is a catheter, so moving her to the portable commode is not necessary anymore. She spends most of the day in a twilight sleep on one side (laying flat is impossible now), drifting in and out as people sit with her. This morning, she did not remember opening any of her presents, nor did she remember anything else about Christmas day. We showed her all her gifts again, and she talked with her sister for a few minutes on the phone before tiring out. When I left this afternoon, she was drifting, but she made me promise to come back again so I could see her.
The rest of Christmas was as normal as we could make it: presents under a real tree, carols, a six-course Christmas ham, a shipping container’s worth of cookies, pastry, pie, and homemade 180-proof bourbon balls. I’m hoping my wife will bust out the gaulette iron this week and whomp up a batch. I’m going to have to bring a bottle of Four Roses whisky back down with me next weekend. I also may have to pick this up now that Christmas has passed…
At the risk of getting sappy here, I’m just going to ask everybody to keep a kind thought in your heart for Jen’s mother and her family. Gather your loved ones around you this holiday season, keep them warm and safe, and hold them close.