It was about 11:30 in the morning on Mother’s Day when a volunteer entered Mother’s room in the Respite House.
I had arrived at about 9:30 and we spent the day so far enjoying quiet moments as we held hands. She was tired and I could not help but notice that talking had become uncomfortable for her.
The volunteer, now at Mother’s bedside took a long look at her.
Her face reflected that Mother appearance was that of someone gravely ill.
“I don’t suppose you’ll be wanting any lunch will you?”
Mother and I slowly and simultaneously shook our heads no.
“Is there anything else that you’d like?” she asked giving her best smile.
A milkshake would be nice, I thought to myself.
As if able to read my thoughts the volunteer then asked;
“Well then, how about I get you a nice milkshake?”
Both Mother and I beamed with approval.
“Great,” replied the volunteer.
“What flavour would you like?”
Here, we had a problem.
The obvious choices were chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry.
Had one of the choices included maple walnut, this would have been a no-brainer. Maple walnut is the only flavour ice cream that Mother would ever buy when I was a child.
I hated maple walnut.
That’s why I always enjoyed having my grandmother around. She would always make sure that the freezer was well stocked with Creamsicle’s, Popsicles, and sherbet ice cream.
But this was not the case today.
Mother looked at me anxiously. I could see in her eyes that she wanted me to get this right.
Chocolate was not an option.
I cannot ever remember Mother ever eating chocolate ice cream let alone drinking a chocolate milkshake.
The choice was between vanilla or strawberry.
I had to get this right.
There were no lifeline or phone a friend option.
Racking my brain, I tried to think back on what she would always order. However my mind had gone blank.
At least 10 seconds had now passed since the initial question had been asked.
The decision had to be made.
Then, I remembered the night before, how I rummaged through her freezer contents looking for her usual bottle of frozen Bailey’s.
Of course, there was no Baileys.
The closest I came to icy cold creamy goodness was a badly dented box of half finished gourmet vanilla ice cream.
…..I blurted out like some kind of crazed game show contestant.
Mother’s eyes gleamed back at me approvingly, telling me that I was a good girl.
We continued to hold hands as we silently waited.
When the vanilla milkshake was finally presented to Mother in a very pretty clear blue plastic cup, I held it up so she could take a sip.
The joyous look on her face said it all.
There was no trace of any pain or discomfort at all…
It took about three sips before I realized that she was having trouble swallowing.
This was yet another bad sign proving that she was quickly deteriorating.
It took about a half an hour for her to finish half of her milkshake.
It was then that a nurse entered the room and seeing that Mother had drank half the milkshake, she asked if she could take it away. The nurse then explained that she was concerned that Mother might become nauseous again like she had earlier that morning.
Contentedly, Mother agreed with a nod, leaned back into her pillow and closed her eyes.
I never saw her eat or drink anything ever again.
However, the joy we shared over that vanilla milkshake will stay with me always.
And that was just one of the happy moments we shared during that Mother’s Day.
She spent the day content, calm and very comfortable.
Of course, I think it’s going to be awhile before I can ever drink a vanilla shake again…
……Without breaking into tears.