I love to cat-nap.
I’m an okay sleeper during the night, but I am a great napper during the day. Mom is doing a lot of napping these days. When I’m home alone with her, I can crawl up in the chair beside her and catch a few lovely winks. If someone else is in the house, I usually visit with them, but I do love the time Mom and I nap side by side.
Although I’ve written about naps before (see here), there’s a new level of napping taking place at the Bunn house now. It’s been over a year since she broke her arm and become completely dependent on others for all of her mobility. During the last 13+ months, she’s slipped away little by little, day by day.
Catnaps are those short little naps, sweet little dozing moments that rejuvenate an afternoon slump. Fifteen to twenty minute naps are ideal for cats. Mom’s naps are more like “dog-naps.” (My sister coined that term.) For the pet owners out there, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Cats sleep light, dainty little naps, but they can be awake and alert in a heartbeat. Dogs crash; they collapse on the floor, exhausted. As long as their favorite person is in the room, dogs can curl up in a ball or flip on their backs and sleep for 22 hours a day.
It seems that Mom sleeps 22 hours a day now. Some mornings she doesn’t open her eyes at all during breakfast and her morning constitutional. It may be 1:30 or even 2:00 before she fully rouses. After lunch, she’ll doze off again until dinner time. She’ll usually stay awake for a bit, maybe an hour or two, before she slips away again.
For her caregivers, this sleeping makes life easier and harder. The days seem to pass much more slowly for us without an alert companion. When we try to read her a story or watch a video with her, she’ll snooze. Sometimes she’ll tap her toes or wad up her blanket with her hands. She’ll have her eyes closed but not be sleeping deeply. If she senses movement, she’ll peek out for a second or two to check out the action. It’s very difficult to help her move or eat.
Her best sleep happens when Dad is in the chair beside her. He doesn’t mind sitting there while working his Sudoku or reading the paper. I think Jean, Clara, and Laverne have an easier time staying close by than I do. I get restless so I’m grateful to have projects that allow me to be nearby.
With caregiving experience in my past, I can easily do the things she needs. The physicality of caregiving is no problem. The hard part is the remembering. I remember a strong, able woman who was a force to be reckoned with. When I look at her now, it’s hard to see her diminished and dependent. When I gaze deeply into those blue eyes, it’s still so painful to know that she doesn’t know me. She doesn’t remember who I am.
Napping is a blessing then. She’ll sometimes giggle or sing or talk, and I can close my eyes too and hear Mom as she used to be.