Mobility Matters to the Elderly
They need to connect too!
When I wrote my book, Mobility Matters, I had just overcome my fears and changed my outlook toward my incurable eye disease, Retinitis Pigmentosa. My biggest fear had been that I would be forced to stay at home because I couldn’t see to get around. But with mobility training, I overcame the understanding of what it meant to be blind.
I knew that mobility would matter to others as well–those wheelchair bound, anyone who suffered from chronic illness, those who lacked transport, others with temporary bone breaks and, of course, the elderly. But since that time, God has given me faces and friendships that go along with members of these other groups.
One of those faces is my mother. At age 86, she suffers from osteoporosis and is very delicate. She’s used a cane for more than ten years. Her fear of falling keeps her at home most of the time, so she lives a quiet life as a near shut-in.
My sister, Carolyn, used to find places for them both to go. She convinced Mom to attend the senior citizen’s center at her church every week. My mother enjoyed getting out among other people and often mentioned the speakers. I loved to hear the stories.
The outings dwindled as my mother grew older and my sister became ill with leukemia, a terrible disease that eventually robbed her of her life.
Carolyn’s passing symbolically passed on the torch to my brother and me. I don’t think we’ve been as successful in getting Mom to go out. As she aged and suffered two broken wrists in separate falls, her fears of leaving increased. It’s difficult to entrust your safety to a vision-impaired daughter who can’t see where she’s going.
But sometimes God sends along a special person who piques my mom’s interest and whose warmth melts the usual fears.
This week, we were blessed to have that happen.
Melissa, someone who grew up in our neighborhood but who has long since moved away, returned for a visit. She took time out to share memories of her family and that period in her life with Mom. In fact, this was their second visit. Mom recalled Melissa though she grew up at the far end of our street. “I don’t know how I remember her but I do. She seemed like a happy little girl.”
Twenty-five years later, Melissa and her husband now form a musical duo and perform their show to groups of senior citizens, those at RV parks and other recipients around the United States all year long. They have made it their goal to use their musical talents as a way to live out their dream job and travel while enriching the lives of others by using their musical talents. The singing duo live in an RV and book their own gigs.
During their chat, Melissa invited Mom to her show the following day. (“It doesn’t hurt to ask,” is her motto). As I expected, Mom politely turned her down but with a smile. Melissa invited her several times throughout their visit. She left with a sincere, “It would really make my day if you came to hear us sing.”
Guess what? Something changed in my mom’s demeanor. She said she would think about it. Her face softened. Her smile became girlish. The mobility issue suddenly seemed more do-able–and my heart soared!
But we faced another problem. We didn’t have a ride. Judie, who usually had the day off and took me around was out of town, and unfortunately, my brother had an appointment. My spirits fell. I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t think my timid mother would agree to going late. It looked like we were out of luck. Then Melissa messaged me. Maybe her friend, Judy, could pick us up.
That’s all it took. “I guess I’ll have to hurry!” Mom said with a lighter step. She cleaned off the breakfast table and sped through all her morning chores to take a shower. She even washed her hair! As it turned out, Melissa’s friend, Judy, had to work. But my brother took us a little late. Mom seemed okay with that.
We heard the strains of music outside the door to the Senior Center. I held it open for Mom to enter. Melissa danced her way over to us from the front of the room where she was performing, led us to a table in the front and headed back to continue her performance.
What individual and attentive service!
Mom smiled and tapped her feet; she especially liked the balloons they threw out for audience participation. I couldn’t see them until they floated past me but my mother caught one and tossed it out again.
During the last song, Melissa and Larry came out into the audience and sang “Put on a happy face!” Larry came over and shook Mom’s hand with a gigantic white glove. Mom followed his progress around the room for a bit before turning back to me. “I like him, too.”
After the show, Melissa and Larry came over to chat. Here you see Melissa with my mother. Look at those smiles!
My mother normally leaves as soon as an event finishes. But my brother didn’t come right away. So I hustled to get us some food. When I arrived back with two Styrofoam platefuls, one of the men nodded and said,”You can’t beat a two-dollar lunch.”
“Kitty, I live a big ol’ house on Fairplane.”
“We have some land near there. My son has a business that used to be his dad’s,” Mom explained, warming up.
I pulled my seat closer to the table and quietly scooped potatoes and gravy onto my spoon as the chatter continued around me.
Later Mom picked at her cake and whispered, “Go check the parking lot and see if your brother is waiting out there.”
No red Hyundai. While I looked around, I made a few phone calls to see if anyone could pick us up.
Ordinarily, being stranded would cause Mom great embarrassment.
But when I returned, another lady had made herself at home, though the other seats at our table had emptied. “Now, Kitty, you don’t be a stranger. You and your daughter come back anytime.”
The place was nearly cleared out when Kathy, our rescuer, pulled in the parking lot. My cell rang.
“Mom, he’s on his way. Sit down and talk to Kathy till he comes.”
I heard her say, “I’ll never go anyplace unless I know for sure I have a ride back.”
But when my brother arrived, she seemed to have calmed down and even talked about the people we met. So I wondered if God just wanted Mom to stay a little longer and enjoy more fellowship. She didn’t seem much worse for the wear and she had an adventure to share with her friends later on the phone.
That evening, Mom sat in her chair bathed in the lamplight. She switched off the TV and leaned forward. “They’re a fun couple. I think they really enjoy their lives together. ”
It was the tone of voice she used to use when she shared what happened at the Senior Center with my sister. She went on to say how much work she had done that morning before she left. It meant it was a good day. I was initially surprised that Melissa could get Mom to go at all, but like Melissa reminds me often, “It never hurts to ask.”
I caught my breath and let out a sigh. Mobility did matter.
That night, I got on my knees. “Thank you, God, for seeing to Mom’s heart’s desire and bringing all the details together in Your perfect timing. Thank you for friends who made a difference to her today. I’m so glad I could collect the food and take it to the table without tripping. Such a little thing but I did it. God, most of all, thank you for the lesson of reminding me to invite Mom out for special times all her own.”
Everyone needs to get out sometimes. People need to be refreshed to see their life and themselves in a new way, to know they count. People need to be mobile.
Once again, I realize that God gave me the perfect title for my book because it connects me so many others and reminds me to think beyond myself to the needs of others. God is teaching me compassion along with confidence. Little by little, I’m growing.
As I put out the light and covered myself up, I sang, “Put on a hap-py face!”
To learn more about Larry and Melissa Beahm or to book them for a gig at your location, check out their website, One More Time. You can also LIKE their band, One More Time, on Facebook and follow their progress as they travel and perform around the country.
You have just read, “Mobility Matters to the Elderly” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright August 26, 2015. Please like and share this post and don’t forget to leave a comment to let me know what you think!