The Signature Exercise
The best possible reminder that I am not OLD is a trip to Detroit, where we inevitably end up spending a lot of time with my 94-year-old mother-in-law, who lives in an assisted living facility.
We drove out to Motown yesterday, wanting to pay her a visit and to attend an old friend’s daughter’s wedding. It was my first big trip away from home after my January accident. Not exactly a Garden of Eden, but definitely a change of scenery.
Although my mother-in-law looks pretty good for her age, she can’t hear squat and has no short term memory, and actually not much memory at all. We must have already answered the question about what our children are doing at least 6 times, each time seeing her marvel at the fact that they are no longer in school and then asking if they are seeing someone. It’s sort of like an infinite loop tape.
We all took in an early Shabbat service, which was fairly short and authentic except for the fact that they served cranberry juice so the blessing was not borei p’ri hagafen but whatever the equivalent for cranberries is.
We hung out on the porch for a while on a beautiful warm summer day, with my mother-in-law repeatedly asking if it had started to rain yet. This family is preoccupied with the weather and even a threat of rain.
The only thing we really wanted to accomplish today was to get my husband’s name on his mother’s checking account, along with his sister who has power of attorney since she is local. He had been assured it was an easy transaction, not necessarily involving his mother.
But nothing is so easy. The good news is the Comerica bank is just next door to the assisted living facility. The bad news was after waiting 45 minutes he and his sister were told their mother must not only be present, but must also sign 10 forms.
So after lunch we proposed a field trip in her wheel chair. It was actually a pleasant walk to the nearby bank. But once inside it seemed like a daunting and unnecessary task to get her signature on 10 copies of the same document. The bank also sent my husband back to the assisted living facility to bring back proof of who his mother was since some record they had showed her as deceased -- go figure!
She was a good sport about all those signatures, going from “I can’t see” to “Make the first D for me” to just signing her name in what is still a very beautiful penmanship. It occurred to me that a good exercise for an older person might be signing his or her name 10 times a day at the spot marked with an “X”.
So I once again thank God I’m not yet old and ask that he not gradually take my mind away. Instead let me be like the 100-year-old woman who sat in the back at Shabbat service, heard and processed every word, and then politely wheeled herself (with her walker) back up to her room after the service was over.
The birds are still around, some of them undoubtedly having outlived residents who were there when we visited last November.