My Scrambled Nest

An Almost-Empty Nest Journey of "Letting Go" With Laughter and Love, By Cathy Free

I’ll be catching up on work today after spending much of yesterday afternoon playing hooky at my mom’s care center, lounging on the spare bed in her room, sipping fizzy lemonade and popping M&Ms as we watched “Dial M for Murder” with Grace Kelly.

Our first official “Hitchcock Movie Club” get-together was so much fun that we now plan to hit replay at least once a week. I own a collection of 20 Alfred Hitchcock films, so if we’re lucky, we’ll have five months to see them all, and our routine will give my mother something to look forward to. I came up with the idea after noticing how my mom’s face lit up one afternoon when I was trying to figure out how to work the DVD player in her room. “To Catch a Thief” suddenly appeared on the Turner Classics movie channel, enchanting my mother, who until that moment, hadn’t wanted to watch television in months.

“Cary Grant and Grace Kelly — two beautiful people,” she said. “What’s not to love?”

I had to agree.

Thus far, my mother is doing far better than anyone expected in hospice care. Sometimes, I get the feeling that the hospital simply didn’t know what to do with her, so they decided to check “hospice” on the medical coding sheet and make her somebody else’s “problem.” Yes, the bedsore on her backside is as bad as it can be, and she is weak and prone to moments of confusion. But on other days, I get the feeling that she could climb into her wheelchair and roll up the street to IHOP for strawberry and banana pancakes if she really set her mind to it.

“Instead of just waiting around to die,” I told her a few weeks ago, “why not enjoy a little bit of living?”

Thus, my brother and I bundled her up and wheeled her outside in the sunshine one afternoon, and on my birthday last week, I showed up with a book about Paris, two slices of lemon cheesecake and a bottle of her favorite Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Spending a few hours each week with Hitchcock and Co., though, is definitely on track to becoming her favorite pastime.

Yesterday, we marveled at Grace Kelly’s red lace cocktail dress and simultaneously exclaimed, “Don’t do it!” when she climbed out of bed with immaculate hair to answer her husband’s phone call while a hired killer waited behind the curtains to strangle her.

“What a treat — I hadn’t seen that movie in years,” my mother told me when I kissed her goodbye. “Maybe we can watch two this week?

I probably don’t have to tell you that I’ll be playing hooky again on Wednesday for “North by Northwest.” : )

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