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Precious Days in New York

| August 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Ilene Hubbs

The trip to New York City was just going to be a solo getaway, four days on my own to soak up the theater and culture of one of my favorite cities in the world. I planned to see a play or two, get in as many museums as I could and window shop in all the great stores I couldn’t afford. That was the plan. But sometimes life gets in the way.

A close cousin, the daughter of my mother’s sister, wanted to join me for a day and night and she wanted to treat me to theater tickets in exchange for staying a night in my room. We had done that in the past and it was fun. I would still have some alone time and get to see my cousin as well. I agreed. As the trip grew closer, the plans kept changing. Her next suggestion was maybe I could take the bus ride back to the Jersey shore with her so I could visit her 92 year-old mother, my favorite aunt, and the last one left of that generation. I agreed. I did want to see her and she was so close, just a short bus ride away. How could I not?

So, after making sure my room had two beds and telling my cousin, she came up with yet another proposition, how about if she brings her mom with her, and they stay with me three out of my four day in New York. Hmmm, very little alone time, but yet again I agreed.

My aunt was always interesting and vaguely exotic to me. Summers of my youth I spent at my grandparents’ beach house with my siblings, all my cousins and this aunt. My parents both worked and came down on weekends, as did my aunt’s husband. To me it was glorious. I had grandparents who adored me, all those kids at the house, and an aunt who was beautiful and outgoing and treated me like a special niece, and, I was parent free all during the week. Those summers shine in my memory and set me up for a lifelong mutual admiration society with this beloved aunt.

I did find myself excited that I was going to be with her and the initial disappointment about not doing the trip my way quickly went away. I was anxious to see my cousin but even more so to be with this lively and positive thinking aunt. Unlike her brother and my mom, she did not have any illness to speak of. I’m sure we could do all kinds of things in the city.

Then they arrived. At first the only thing I noticed was how much smaller she was. My 5’6” aunt was now my 5’2”height and her formerly perfect posture had morphed into a slightly bent over little lady. As we walked into the hotel she took my arm and I was very much aware of how badly she walked. I also noticed how little attention my cousin gave to this. Almost immediately I realized we needed to change my agenda. Walking much was out of the question.

I had been through all of this with my mother and felt the need to help my younger cousin acknowledge that her mom has very real limitations and very specific needs. When my cousin grabbed her arm to help her walk, I showed her what I was taught, let her grab onto your arm so she feels more in control, When she doesn’t understand you, know that her aging mind is fine, she just needs a little more time to process before she answers. When she does not hear you because her hearing is failing, don’t yell the words a second time. Instead speak slowly and distinctly making sure she can see your lips. My mom’s audiologist told me to do this too.

The trip turned out to be one of the best visits I could imagine. I had the joy of spending time with two people I love, two people who transported me instantly to my days at that beach house, one person just learning the ropes of taking care of her elderly mother and the other enjoying three precious days in the twilight of her life with me, her favorite, her sister’s daughter.

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Category: Life Style, Local News