I do my mother’s laundry while she sits and watches. We talk, but these days our talks are more of a Q and A session. It’s hard holding a conversation with an Alzheimer’s patient, but I try. When we’re together, we sit close, watch others, and smile.
However, there is one thing we enjoy: hot chocolate. The coffee dispenser at Mom’s Senior Living facility offers a selection of coffees, lattes, and hot chocolate. I was pleasantly surprised at how rich and chocolatey the hot chocolate was the first time we had it. Needless to say, it’s our go-to snack each time I visit, especially when we’re sitting in the laundry room, waiting. Is there anything better than hot chocolate? Why, yes. Yes, there is…
Last week Mom and I had a memorable visit. She felt good and was in good spirits. I eat lunch with her when I visit and then we do an activity. Most of the time our visit consists of sitting by the fireplace with the other residents. I’ve gotten to know several of the residents. It didn’t take long for me to realize that most of them are pleasantly confused in their own right. They tell me how they enjoy my mother’s company, and that they’re glad she’s there, and that she’s a lovely lady. I respond by saying that she’s an exceptional lady and that I’m proud to be her daughter. Mom smiles and pats my hand.
After a few minutes of fireplace chit chat, I ask Mom if she’d like to do her laundry. “We can,” she says. “Whatever you want to do.” I reach for her hand and walk with her back to her apartment. I gather her laundry and roll her laundry cart to the laundry room. While I load the washing machine, Mom watches. Afterward, I ask if she’d like for me to get us a hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is our drink of choice when we’re doing laundry. I don’t know what we’ll do when summer comes, and it’ll be too hot for hot chocolate. I guess I’ll figure that out when the time comes. But for now, it’s hot chocolate ala carte—
That is until the hot chocolate dispenser ran out! How does this happen, I mumbled under my breath. I stood at the table, 8-ounce styrofoam cup in hand, and stared at the machine. Perhaps I thought I could will more mix in the device if I looked at it long enough, who knows? Anyway, I promised Mom hot chocolate, and I had to return with something. She will be disappointed, and I don’t want that. I scanned the list of options. I’ve never really done that as I always choose hot chocolate. Shame on me for never giving any of the other choices a chance. I didn’t want regular or decaf coffee, that’s plain-old boring. Besides, the laundry room has that covered. I’ve often thought how nice it would be if the laundry room had a TV. Cappuccino is another choice that didn’t suit my fancy, and I didn’t’ think Mom would like it, either. With vanilla latte being my last resort, I ordered two and made my way back to the laundry room.
I was glad to see that we acquired no other patrons but felt a rush of sadness to see that Mom’s chin rested upon her chest. She was fast asleep. I didn’t make a big deal about her catnap; instead, I smiled at her when she lifted her head and handed her her drink.
“The hot chocolate was empty, so I got us a vanilla latte.”
“What’s that?” Mom asked.
“It’s kind of like hot chocolate. Taste it. It’s delicious.”
I took a sip, and so did Mom. A frothy mustache outlined her top lip. “Well, how do you like it? It’s pretty tasty, isn’t it?”
“I like this,” Mom said.
“I do, too. We’ll have to get this again.”
I sat down in the chair next to Mom and watched her enjoy her first vanilla latte. It wasn’t Starbucks, but she didn’t know the difference. No amount of money can buy this moment I thought to myself. One day I will look back and remember my mother’s childlike delight over a machine dispursed vanilla latte.
Mental note to self: When spring comes, I’ll take Mom to Starbucks for a real vanilla latte. We’ll sit outside, and people watch. I pray she can wait until then…