Wednesday, September 9, 2009

a better walk (and what happened after)

Today, Mom, Dad, and I enjoyed the beautiful afternoon weather as we strolled across the grass at Fort Hunt Park. Dad recommended having Mom walk a short distance, then rest at a picnic table, then continue on, so that's what we did, and it worked out fine for Mom. No falls to report today.

As we were strolling, Dad found a golf ball in the grass, so while Mom was seated at a picnic table under one of the park's several large wooden pavilions, she and I did some hand-eye coordination exercises. First, I formed my hands into goal posts and asked Mom to roll the ball across the rough wooden table and into the goal. She finally arrived at a method wherein she "flicked" the ball across with a powerful blow from her right index finger. Her goal-scoring average shot up once she had mastered her own technique. Next, I took advantage of the pavilion's concrete floor and asked Mom to catch the golf ball when I bounced it to her (for those who don't know: golf balls bounce well on hard surfaces like concrete). She was able to catch the ball a few times with her left hand, which was good to see.

We walked out to another picnic table and sat down... just in time to have a beautiful white-and-brown dog run up and sniff at us. "Chelsea!" yelled the dog's owner, obviously perturbed that one of his several dogs had slipped her leash. And "Chelsea!" was what we heard for the next three or four minutes as the poor owner struggled with the fact that his dog (I assume it was his dog) wasn't planning on coming straight back. The temptation of all that open space was probably too strong for Chelsea; from her canine perspective, the park was a whole new universe of scents and textures. I didn't know what breed Chelsea was, but she looked like the sort of dog that would enjoy spending all day tearing around a vast swath of pasture or forest. I pitied the owner, but was fairly certain that Chelsea would eventually calm down and return to him.

Dad and I talked about all this while Mom sat quietly with us, then we got up and headed back to the van. Mom was still too weak to get into the van without help, but Dad was able to assist her. The shadows were lengthening as we departed; the weather was cool and beautiful, so I left the windows open as we cruised slowly around the park's perimeter road and headed home.

When we got home, Mom had another surprise in store for me: she helped me prep dinner. I cooked a shrimp and bacon "crustless quiche," and Mom helped out by removing the shrimps' tails. That saved me a lot of time, and the resultant dish was quite tasty-- shrimp, bacon, egg, milk, green onion, salt, pepper, garlic, cheddar, Swiss cheese, Gruyère, and very little else. I also made a red cabbage salad and brought out some leftover penne pasta for Dad and me (Dad normally tests Mom's blood sugar two hours after dinner, so we go easy on feeding her carbs after lunch), giving Mom a small bowl of yukgae-jang instead of pasta. We sat and watched Obama's health care speech together; I cringed when a Republican congressman shouted "You lie!" at Obama during the speech-- not exactly the way to demonstrate that your side is the more civil and rational one. Mom didn't react one way or another to Obama's speech or to the congressman's breach of etiquette; if anything, the speech served as a painful reminder of what Mom can no longer grasp. She might have been impressed by the president's presence and gravitas, but the content of his speech was lost on her.

This isn't to say that I didn't take pleasure in the simple things. Before Mom went to bed, I had her practice standing up from her "throne" on the couch. We did the same movement three times; Mom needed help every single time, as was to be expected, but she approached the task with determination. Each time she got up, she received a hug from me. And later, when she got up from the couch one final time to go to bed, it was Dad who hugged her and led her away.



kwandongbrian said...

From Boing-boing, I see that the opponent of the man yelling, "You lie" received around $70,000 in donations very soon thereafter.

Speaking as someone who has put on some weight this summer, I hope you have kept up some exercise of your own while helping your mother. I guess I really hope you and your father have time away from home to do your own things for a while now and again.

Kevin Kim said...

Alas, fitness is an area in which I am very, very remiss, and I have no real excuse. Mom wakes up very late in the day, so I actually have plenty of time in the morning to exercise, especially now that school has started up again and the bike paths are clear. But I've never been much of a morning person, so getting my ass moving is going to require a real effort of will.