After my mom became sick and we brought her to Pittsburgh, her health problems progressed. Some of them she weathered fairly well, like the kidney/bladder infection and persistent pneumonia, but her heart continued to fail and her breathing became more and more labored. Her lack of oxygen increased her confusion and she couldn’t walk more than a few steps as it taxed her breathing too much. She had resisted using her new red motor scooter and I know it was just pride – that and the fact that she couldn’t figure out how to turn it on and drive it. So my cousin Janet came to visit her and gave her a demonstration, a few good laughs, a lot of hugs and some kisses, and Mom was on her way on her new scooter.
She was calling me very frequently – sometimes hourly – because she was becoming very anxious and just needed to feel connected and reassured. One day, when there were an over abundance of phone calls from her, I suggested she hop on that shiny new red scooter and go downstairs to the main room at the Willows where there were people. She should socialize and make some friends. Maybe she could even go out on the front porch and enjoy the beautiful day.
I made the suggestion at about 3:30 and when I arrived for my daily visit at about 5:00, my mom and Mr. Vance Wittner were sitting on the sofa in the main living room reading the newspaper together. You could not slide a piece of onion skin paper between them.
Mr. Wittner and my mom were the only 2 people at the Willows with motor scooters, and they both had exactly the same one. Mr. Wittner’s was a larger version, but both were the same brand, same style, same red color, same everything. My mom, who only 2 hours earlier had been so concerned about how soon I would be coming over, telling me she was very upset and not well, now seemed totally uninterested in me as she sat so close to Mr. Wittner. Now, there was no sign of the anxiety or distress of earlier in the day. She was very focused on him and even seemed to have a glow about her. I managed to squeeze in a sentence or two and told her that if she felt ok we could go to lunch on Sunday. Instead of responding yea or nay, she turned to Mr. Wittner and asked him if he’d like to go to lunch with her family. He said he’d love it. With his agreement, my mother turned to me and said they’d love to join us for lunch. She said I should gather up Scott and Kathy and her family. We’d need to take two cars since there would be a lot of people and there would be two walkers, my mom’s and Mr. Wittner’s. Mr. Wittner said he loved Applebee’s® so he asked how would that be for the rest of us? I assured them both that we liked Applebee’s® just fine and I’d gather the family.
When it was time for me to leave and for them to go to dinner, Mom turned again to Mr. Wittner and said, “We can’t sit together, we have to sit at our regular tables.” This relationship seems to have developed over the course of an hour or so.
When I arrived the next day the staff at the Willows couldn’t wait to tell me how cute the new couple was as they sat on the sofa or on the front porch holding hands. I went up to her apartment and asked if she’d had a good day and what had she done. Instead of the usual putting her head in her hands and struggling to recall her activities, she told me she was busy all day because she had company. When I asked her who was there, she said she didn’t know who they were, but “it was those girls that come” (hospice) and “that man that you know.” I asked, “What man?” and she said, “My boyfriend! What is his name?”
So then I knew it was official. My mom had a boyfriend – Whats Hisname.