Remembering: The Last Newspaper

/ 14 April 2011

A year ago on April 13 I wrote:

It is a very rainy Tuesday in Vienna and Alex and I have been here for almost a week. Some days, or really, more accurately, nights, have been horrible. Other hours have passed in quiet peacefulness and rest.

The couple nights before Sunday were the worst this week. Oma was awake half the night and very demanding. “Eric!” I would here her cry out at midnight or 1am or 2am. I’d trundle down in my pajamas to find her shouting for water or comfort. I know, I’m here to help and Oma has always been awake nights, but you might be surprised at how quickly such demands get old. It would be even worse for Veronica, who works all day with Oma only to hear the same cry at night. Veronica told me that on these nights she didn’t get to bed until three or four in the morning.

Sunday was a bit of a turning point in the week. Oma had many visitors, virtually all arriving at the same time, late that morning.




Heinz and Helga arrived first, Helga bearing a pot of soup for us. Then Tante Trude (Mariella’s mom) dropped in with her daughter Crystal. Finally the incredibly talkative Sigrun joined us. It was an Oma party, everyone in Oma’s room! Oma had such a nice smile on her face, and spoke so nicely with her friends, they all said she was doing so much better than the week before, that she must get up next, move about a bit. Oma agreed. Of course, soon after they left, Oma was back asleep.


Since then, though, the days and nights have been more peaceful. Today, at breakfast, Oma even read the paper and asked for a pen so she could try the word-game a bit. I think this is a first since she left the house back in February. Alex has a few pictures of the past few days at Flicker, he sent the URL so you can take a look. He will keep adding to that site.

Still, all is not well. Oma’s muscles cramp up something fierce since she has been in bed without physical therapy or massage for weeks. This has to be fixed. Heinz and I are trying to get physical therapy started and a wheelchair in the house so that we can encourage Oma to get moving. I move and massage her feet and legs, exercises I have learned with Alex, but I am sure she needs more. Day by day.

Anna is now back. A big smile spread on Oma’s face when she saw her. On we go!

Oma and Anna

Only after Anna returned did it become clear what a disaster Veronica had been for Oma. She had a large bedsore on her bottom from not being turned enough, and her muscle cramps had become much worse. I had been cooking for Oma since my return, so at least she had been eating better.

I still think of this day often, when Oma held her newspaper and filled out a few words of the crossword puzzle. Oma was trying life back on this day. It was bright shiny spring and I imagined that if we could find the right therapists and get Oma out of bed, she would land back on her feet. This was a great day.


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