And So They Live On

I had the chance to visit Mom today at the nursing home. It’s been over a week since I was able to go there because I’ve been fighting a cold and didn’t want to take the chance of giving it to her. Between my last visit and now, the staff had informed me that her roommate had passed away and that she had a new roommate. So I was anxious to meet her new roommate and also to see how Mom was handling the loss of her friend.

I found Mom in the lounge having her nails manicured. We spent a pleasant few minutes catching up on family news while I waited for the manicure to be done. When it was over, I took her on down to her room to get a sweater for her since she said she was cold.

Her new roommate was sitting in a wheelchair and had some sort of headphone/radio on. It must have had the speaker turned on because I could hear it from Mom’s side of the room. I wanted to introduce myself but she seemed to be dozing. As I rummaged through Mom’s closet, her roommate started carrying on a conversation but when I turned to see if she was speaking to me, it still looked like she was asleep.

“Why don’t I take you to the library, Mom?” I suggested. “We can read some more of your book together.”

“Sounds good,” said Mom. “As long as I can spend time with you, I’m happy.”

So off we went and soon we were settled in the cozy little library. I read her some emails that her friend, Ruthie had sent and we had a good laugh over them. Then I grabbed the book we were reading and turned to the spot where we had last left off. But first I thought I’d better say something about Mom’s roommate.

“I was sorry to hear about Rhoda, Mom,” I said, tentatively.

“Who?” asked Mom.

“Rhoda, your roommate,” I continued.

“Why, what’s wrong with her,” she asked.

I was a little confused. Her nurse had told me that Mom had been told and that they were monitoring her to see how she was taking the news. “Um, well, Rhoda passed away, Mom,” I told her. “I was sorry to hear that.”

“She DID?”, replied Mom, increduously.

“Didn’t you notice that you have a new roommate,” I asked.

“Good grief, no!” Mom looked me over. “I thought it was Rhoda.”

“Well, no-o-o! It’s a new roommate. So I guess you’ll have to introduce yourself,” I said brightly all the while kicking myself that I had said anything. If I had just kept my mouth shut, she might have gone on for another year still thinking that Rhoda was in the next bed.

Then again, by the time Mom got back to her room after lunch, she probably had forgotten all about the new roommate. And so it’s true that a person’s memory lives on in the minds of others. And that’s a good thing, I think.


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