by Ann Rickard
MY MOTHER, a few months away from the grand age of 99, took up residence in a care facility only a year ago. Until then she had lived alone in an old house.
Hers is a good care facility and she is happy. Indeed, it's so comfortable whenever I visit I sometimes (briefly I admit) have the notion to swap places with her.
She will never again be too hot or too cold. Her facility is climate-controlled year-round with a perfect temperature no matter what is going on outside. This has never been the case her entire life. She was either freezing in the winter or wilting in the summer.
She has a very pleasant room looking out over green lawns and leafy trees and flourishing foliage. And her bed...goodness knows what it cost. It is super high-tech and can be adjusted to what height or laid-back position she wants just by the pressing of a button.
She has company now, where before she did not. Now there is always someone around to lasso into a game of Scrabble or for a sit and chat.
Along with the other residents she has people who come in weekly to entertain her. Musicians and magicians and the like. Singalongs are popular. I found myself joining in during one visit, singing so lustily to Fernando's Hideaway all the residents stopped singing to stare at me. I like to think, in appreciation.
A menu arrives each day telling her what to expect for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
I have watched the afternoon tea trolley come around laden with fresh fruit, home made cakes, cookies and sandwiches. If she wants to, she can invite a guest (or two) to come in for a Ritz-like afternoon tea, where a tiered plate of cucumber sandwiches, scones, jam and cream, and cakes is served with a pot of proper, freshly brewed tea. A gold coin donation is all that is required for this festive tea party held in a light-filled communal room. Needless to say, I enjoyed the scones with their pile of cream and jam so much I left many gold coins in appreciation.
There is but one thing the mother is not quite happy about. The hairdressing situation. A hairdresser comes in and attends to the needs of anyone who wants her services. Convenient, but the said hairdresser gives everyone the same haircut whether they be male or female, long or short of hair, probably even bald. After cutting she then puts what is left of the hair in rollers (remember them?) and then backcombs it and 'sets' it.
Mother is not happy with a generic one-size-fits-all haircut.
So, on our last visit, we took mother to a hairdresser at the local mall. Getting a frail and small near 99-year-old out of her room, into a car, into a wheelchair and then into a shopping mall and to a hairdresser is quite the project but everyone was happy.
We wheeled the mother into the hairdresser, explained the situation to a young woman, said mother wanted 'something modern' and then wheeled her to the mirror and left her there for 30 minutes.
When we returned to pick up the newly coiffed mother and pay, the young hairdresser looked at us, and said in a genuine tone: "Is she a senior? We give discounts to seniors."
I know, I can hardly believe it myself. Admittedly the mother had gone in with a dud hair cut but still....?
My first response was: "No, she had her 21st birthday last week. She did a few hand stands to celebrate." But I refrained, paid the bill and received the senior's discount.
Life is always amusing.
Read more of Ann at www.annrickard.com.