Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Lefse event at the Nursing Home

While at CrossFit yesterday morning, one of the young ladies I work out with told me that there was 'Lefse Making' at the home where my MIL is at, was I going to come?
Since it was snowing and blowing and most of my 'to do' list was complete, I said I'd go.

I woke Lenise up when I got to her room and sat with her while she slowly gained her senses.
She said she was tired, I replied that they were doing a Lefse making 'thing' down in the cafeteria and that I'd come special, just to spend the afternoon with her.

Success! I got her out of bed, slippers and glasses put on... and off we went. We wheeled into the cafeteria as the Lefse Ladies were starting to roll out the dough.

Lefse dough consists of pounds and pounds of potatoes peeled and cooked then run through a ricer. Hmm, easier to provide a link than it is to explain it since I am not a baking person.

Sons of Norway: Lefse Making

I parked Lenise so that she could see the ladies rolling out the dough and using the stick to transfer it to the grill thing. Pretty soon we had a table of four residents all trying to make conversation.

I passed out coffee to the ladies and tried to field questions.

Mary told everyone and anyone who was there that she liked the Packers and that she was from Green Bay and she was of German descent. Mabel was worried that she was at the wrong table and didn't know us. It seemed to bother her a lot.
Lorraine announced that she didn't recognize anyone and that was okay because she was pretty sure that we were okay.
Lenise told the girls that she lived in an apartment in town in Viroqua. Then said she had an apartment in Readstown. Minutes later she told them she had a room at the Home just like them.

I recently finished a very good book Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything by Sally Magnusson.
It is an incredible account of travelling through the world of her mom's dementia with a daughter and her family. I've been reading and doing a bit of research. It really has helped me understand and not fear visiting the home or being uncomfortable around those who do have different stages of dementia.

Mable [not her real name] was really quite put out at not being at her normal cafeteria table. I'd be busy listening to the others talk and I'd watch her out of the corner of my eye. She kept rearranging an empty spot on the table over and over. She reached over and picked up a napkin and asked me to read it to her.
I asked her to help me with it.
Mabel said, "It is signed Olga [something...I couldn't make out what she said]." She handed me the napkin and I studied it for a moment and said, "Yes it does!"
She nodded and put it back on the table.

Lorraine pulled on my arm and I squatted next to her. She asked who I was and I told her that I was Lenise's daughter in law.
Lorraine looked at me and asked, "Do you know my mother?"
I answered no.
She said, "My mother said she'd be here. I don't see her, will you watch for her?"
I said sure...

Mabel reached into the center of the table for a little white pumpkin decoration and picked it up. She oohed and ahhed over it for a moment and then announced it was a cupcake.
She shoved it to her mouth and tried to bite it. The other ladies told her 'No!' while I gently pried it from her and set it out of her reach.
"But I want that donut!" she said.

The table conversation was in fits and starts. Lenise would ask Mabel a question and Mabel would stare off into the distance. Lorraine would say something and Lenise would answer. Mary would jump in with her mantra regarding the Green Bay Packers.
Mabel suddenly pointed to an empty spot on the table and asked, "Do you see that? It is so bright and pretty!"
Her hands lifted and her eyes followed something up to the cafeteria ceiling.
"Look look," she kept saying, "it is so pretty! Do you see it?"

See here is where a bit of understanding comes into play. Arguing with Mabel wouldn't have done anyone any good. Lorraine looked up and then asked me if I'd seen her mother again.
Mary gazed off into the distance.
Lenise looked up and then said to Mabel, "Did you spill spaghetti on the floor?"

However Mabel was entranced by her vision of something beautiful and her face was absolutely at peace and full of joy.

Lorraine asked me for some more coffee. Mabel asked me who I was. Mary left. And so it went with snippets of conversation around watching the ladies make Lefse.

I finally asked Lenise if she'd like to go back to her room. I had a few things to get done in town and needed to get home for chores and supper. As far as I was concerned, Lenise had a very good day. She was pretty sharp. We tooled down the hallway and when I got to the end she pointed the way to her room.

I stopped to turn her into the doorway and she pointed to her name and room number.
"See!" she said, "there is my name and number. They keep moving my room and putting my name on so many doors!"
No use in correcting her.
I ask where she'd like to Park and she points.
"Is this the same room that you got me from?" she asks.
"Yes ma'am," I reply, "there is your afghan!" I reach out and straighten it out.
"Don't bother 'they' left it like that when they moved me," she says.

I think this may be her way of being a little upset when she knows I'm going to leave. I'm not sure. I sit on her bed and take her hand then tell her I'll come again.
Small consolation, I think to myself. I hug her and gather my coat and things.

I look over my shoulder as I leave her room and she is staring at the wall her hands in her lap.

I feel my heart squeezed a bit and... then turn to go brave the cold snowy world and return home to take care of Rich.

Molly the nurse stopped me outside in the hallway and asked if I 'get a break' from CareGiving. I smile and shake my head.

"You know how families can be," I reply, "I'm not bitter or angry. Just sad that the family is losing such precious moments like those I get to have."


  1. I hope they eventually got to taste some lefsa. I do not make it but Jen, Andy and the boys make short work of making it and we will have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My husband likes it better than I do.
    I visit dementia a couple of times a week...had to call in reinforcements this week as I was talking to a brick wall...
    I think you may deal with it better than I do...It just exhausts me.
    It is good of you to go visit when you can.
    Hope I get to escape the home:)

    1. I was tired after the visit as it was my first experience at dealing with more than one person at a time with rapid fire questions and sometimes things that didn't make sense. It made perfect sense to them and that is what I focused on.
      We talked about the nursing home subject after CrossFit yesterday. One of the fellows I work out with just retired from a management position at this nursing home.


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