Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Visiting Mom as the pandemic wanes July 12, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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My mom. Minnesota Prairie Roots photo.

EVERY VISIT WITH MY MOM in her care center proves emotional for me. I always leave in tears. I cry at the gratitude I feel for seeing her one more time. I cry at the thought that this may be the last time I see her this side of heaven. I cry at her declining health. I cry at the time lost with her during the COVID-19 pandemic when care centers shuttered, and rightly so.

This last visit on July 3 was different, though. Not because I didn’t cry upon departure. I did. But rather, I was able to remove my face mask once inside Mom’s room (since I’m fully-vaccinated) and then hug and kiss her for the first time in 16 months. To do that brought me joy almost beyond words. There’s such healing power in touching someone you love. I can only imagine how Mom felt.

The moment Mom saw me as staff wheeled her into her room, her face lit up. I could see the light in her eyes, the smile hidden by her face mask. For her to recognize me as her eldest daughter started our 9 AM visit in a joyful way.

With our masks removed, I moved a folding chair close, then reached under Mom’s fleece throw to grasp her right hand. Mom pulled back, my hand too cold. Then I leaned in, kissed her forehead, wrapped my arms around her, careful not to displace the oxygen tubes which enable her to breathe.

Those first minutes together felt overwhelmingly emotional in the way that only a mother and daughter can respond to one another. This is the woman who loved and nurtured me, who raised me in the faith, who taught me that kindness and compassion and serving others are more important than prestige and wealth. What a blessing to be raised by her. I shall be forever grateful.

As I settled in for our visit, I pulled a stash of vintage photos from a cloth bag. I’d emailed the care center social worker in advance, asking what I could bring that would make Mom happy. Jessie suggested old photos. She was spot on. Mom reacted in such a positive way to photos of herself at age four, of her parents in 1956, of Dad (“That’s my husband,” Mom said), of my oldest brother and me as preschoolers… Mom identified family in the photos and smiled and talked. Our visits aren’t ususally this engaging. Typically I’m the one talking with minimal response from Mom. Clearly her memories of long ago are much stronger than recent and short-term memories. I promised to bring more old family photos next visit.

All too soon, our time together ended and I was hugging Mom goodbye, tears edging my eyes well before I exited her room. I expect by afternoon, she’d forgotten that Randy and I stopped by. But that’s OK. This isn’t about me. Rather, this is about my 89-year-old mother, who is in hospice. This is about her and her needs, about bringing her joy and love on a Saturday morning through hugs and kisses and a clutch of old family photos.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Visiting Mom as the pandemic wanes”

  1. ❤ precious, precious moments…

  2. Brenda Boone Says:

    Happy tears for you! I’m so thankful you had your mom back in your arms and then such a wonderful connection during your visit, too! What a beautiful gift and thank you for sharing it with your many fans!

  3. This made me cry. I am so happy you had this time with her. Can not put a price on this visit, that is for sure.

  4. Norma Says:

    Audrey, I was in tears reading about your visit with your mom. She is such a pretty lady, and she looked so happy. I’m not confined as she is, but visits have been short and far between for me as well. However things have been so much better lately. She is only a couple of years older than I am, and I am noticing a decline happening in my memory. I remember so much more about the past than I remember about today. My mother died in 1982, and I still miss her. Both of my parents brought much happiness to my life. God Bless you, Audrey.

    • Norma, thank you for your sweet comment about my mom and about your parents. Your family is so precious to me. We enjoyed several days at the lake cabin with Marc, Amber, Isabelle and Isaac. Much love to you and Herb.

  5. Judy Says:

    This post was very touching to my heart. Thank you for posting your special time together.

  6. Kim Kendall Says:

    I’m so happy that you were finally able to see and hug your mom after such a long time! What a special day for both of you. I think your mom looks great! 🙏🙏🙏

  7. Valerie Says:

    So happy you had a meaningful time with your mom.

  8. Ruth Says:

    Isn’t it wonderful she responded so positively to the photos you took to share? Your post is powerful, I can feel it. A mother’s love. I’m sorry for what you are going through but happy to hear you could hug and kiss her.
    ❤️to you Audrey.

  9. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Such a beautiful visit…finally without masks. I’m so happy for both you and your mom Audrey, she looks so content, what a sweet face she has!

  10. lisasimons12 Says:

    Love this, Audrey.

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