Mavis provided other distractions from grief during those three days. While a male friend of my sister’s appeared for a short, respectful visit, Mavis scooted into the room and announced the fact she couldn’t find a bra that morning. She proved her lack of underclothing by hiking up her sweater, pointing to her naked breasts and saying, “See? I’m not wearing one. I guess I’ll go check the laundry.” We all stifled laughter until Mavis had gone on her way. Mavis had, once again, provided a moment of levity as we moved through those sad days. We both knew that, given Mom’s well developed sense of humor, she would have found the situation hilarious. Perhaps on whatever level of consciousness she did have, she still did.
I’ve been told some people would have been angry with Mavis or the nursing home staff, but we understood that Mavis had lost her inhibitions. That’s typical of Alzheimer’s disease. We knew that the nursing home staff did their best. Short of placing a guard on Mavis, they kept her as occupied outside her room as anyone could. Mavis simply outwitted the busy staffers from time to time.
Often in life we have a choice. Laugh or cry. Laugh or get angry. Laugh or develop an ulcer. Of course, laughter isn’t always possible or even appropriate (some would say we were inappropriate to laugh with Mavis as Mom was dying). But if there is a ray of sunshine to be found in a situation, it’s often healthier for all of us to embrace it even while we acknowledge the seriousness of our overall journey.
For many things the saying that “attitude is everything” is true. Mavis offered us a bit of comic relief during those dark days of Mom’s death, and we chose to accept her gift. Thank you, Mavis. We won’t forget you.