I'm applying for VA benefits and form 21-0966 requires that the applicant, my Mom, sign it. This form has my dad's service information, so the VA is checking to be sure the applicant is eligible for benefits. If all checks out, they return a short letter of approval and we have one year from that time to submit an application with all the supporting documentation they require. This is the second time I'm submitting this form for Mom. The first time upon receiving approval, I was working with my mother's facility to put together the formal application package. For 9 months, I gathered documents and every time I sent them in, they wanted more/different documents or letters of explanation. All was well, or so I thought, until I received a phone call that they were closing that department due to Covid and were no longer offering help in putting together the VA package. By the time I received the phone call, the one year had expired and I had to start all over.
I stopped by to visit Mom with the form, candy and coloring books along with an additional file folder that I didn't remember putting in the bag. I found Mom in the living room with her friends enjoying an old movie. She and I went into a side room where I explained the form and showed her where to sign. For some reason, the pen didn't work. The pen that I had just used to sign-in at the front desk (I use my own pen to avoid germs). I pulled out the file folder and out fell a copy of the VA form 21-0966 that she had signed the year before. Mom picked it up and said, "Should I sign my name like this?" pointing to her beautiful cursive signature. I said "Yes, but try the pen out here on this scrap paper first to see if it works." It was like she had a wooden hand. Her beautiful cursive was replaced with block lettering. Unbelievably, it looked quite similar to my son's clunky handwriting. Jake fell into one of the years when it was decided that the kids didn't need to learn cursive (curses to me for not attending board meetings where these decisions are made). I guess someone finally caught on that there is still a need for that "old fashioned" style of writing because I hear they're teaching it again.
Mom was frustrated, but determined, that she sign her name in her once beautiful cursive penmanship. She wrote it out about five times and then declared she was ready for the official signature on the form. Her signature wasn't quite as smooth. It had some jagged edges where she was pressing too hard and the pen stuck before a pointed change of direction, but I was proud of her and she was happy with her accomplishment. We celebrated with her eating a bag of Reese's Snack Mix.
Jake was home in on-line classes, so I texted him to call me during a break for a Facetime with Mom. She was so happy to talk with him and the dog. The dog had no idea what was happening; he just heard a familiar voice and was running in circles trying to find her. Mom and Jake found that amusing for an incredibly long 5 minutes before the dog gave up and flopped down on the floor. I watched them laughing together and thanked God that moments like this occur. And, that is what it comes down to - the thing that is most important. We're all still able to laugh together. When will her dementia progress to the point when that isn't possible? I don't know, but until then, I'm going to relish every moment...all these moments...that I can.