Tuesday night when I went to see Mom, I found her in the dining room sitting across from Essa, whose name I’m now told is actually Ressa.
No sign of Frank.
That’s disappointing since I was dressed all feminine and not looking tough. (See last week’s post, Being Frank with the Shot Put Queen)
When Mom spotted me coming in the door, she yelled, “There’s my daughter!”
It’s music to my ears.
She knows me, today.
All is well.
I sit down in an empty seat and survey Mom’s plate. There are 3 Unidentified Fried Objects of some sort, mashed potatoes and beans. Mom has not touched anything but one of the UFO’s. She’s taken a bite out of it. I still can’t make out what it is.
“Mom, what’s that on your plate there?”
“This?” she says holding one up with her fingers. (She’s not using her fork tonight.)
“Oh, it’s some kind of fudge cake.”
Ressa/Essa speaks in a disgusted voice.
Mom looks puzzled.
I feel queasy.
Mom shrugs and takes another bite.
In what I consider a smart move, Ressa/Essa pushes her plate away. She watches Mom with amusement and maybe a sense of awe.
Mom eats half of her little container of chocolate ice cream. She looks happy as she concentrates on each bite.
I say, “I bet that ‘fudge cake’ would be good with that ice cream!”
Mom takes another bite of liver.
Ressa/Essa excuses herself and rolls out of the room.
A man tries to get behind me in his wheelchair. I scoot up and Mom shouts “Don’t let him by!”
She is laughing.
He is grinning.
After he rolls away, I ask Mom who he is.
She doesn’t know him. She’s just flirting.
I take her back to her room and have a little fun with the wheelchair on the way, doing zigzags down the hall.
I ask her who came to visit earlier. She says no one has.
I remind her that someone has indeed visited today and that he is tall and handsome and visits each and every day.
She stares at me, searching for a name. Finally she comes up with “Oh, your husband!”
It’s hard for me to tell if she’s being funny or is serious.
“No,Mom, your husband. Do you remember his name?”
She rattles off his full name with ease.
Dementia fascinates me. Some things come to Mom so easily and some things are gone from her mind.
One person who is gone or blocked from her mind is my brother, John. She never mentions him, and if someone does she just gets that blank look on her face. His death 11 years ago was so traumatic. She still includes him in the ‘kid count’ but never calls him by name.
She talks about Alli and where she goes to college, and asks about a friend of hers. I think she’s got it together, then she asks where Alli came from.
I re-tell the story of our adoption and she looks confused.
I change the subject. I tell her about how Alli is enjoying being home for the summer and how her girlfriends came over one night and they seemed so much more mature. They sat around the living room to chat. By the end of the night, they were all sitting in the kitchen floor, gathered around watching a movie…like they did when they were pre-teens. It’s so neat to see them at this stage of in-between.
Mom, I can see is not getting my one-sided conversation, so I hold up Smiley the bear and ask his name. After thinking for a while, she comes up with the name of our old dog, Sugar Bear. So Sugar Bear it is, at least until next time someone asks. She pets Sugar Bear and talks about how soft he is.
I bring up Helen, my dear friend of over 20 years. She went to visit Mom last weekend. I go off talking about our friendship and what it means to me and what we have been through over the years and how she has been so supportive. I love that she spent time with Mom. I realize Mom is just staring at me while I chatter away. She’s not following me. Mom can’t remember Helen’s name this night, but on Saturday she told Helen all about her childhood.
How interesting it is to be in this place at this time. I think of my mother as a child again.
Seeing my mother as a child is not a sad thing, but a gift. I feel like I know her completely now. It’s like the time last summer when Larry, Alli and I caught lightning bugs together. For a good hour, we were simultaneously children.
Over the weekend, I had a re-run of childhood with Alli and my nephew’s son, Alexander. I call him Alexander the Great because he’s my great-nephew (and he’s great!) We blew bubbles, and at nightfall went out to catch lightning bugs. What a carefree activity. The neighbors joined us. None of us had an age. We were all kids. It was a timeless time. ☺
Dad called and told us that Mom was talking about “the little dog” as she calls Bella Bunny and she wanted to see her. So, of course we took her to visit. She lies next to Mom in bed and Mom just pets and pets her.
In other news, Alli has landed a great job. She will be working at a day school with children this summer. She’s so patient and gentle with little ones. I know this will be a good fit.
She is also house and dog sitting for a few weeks. She’s getting a good taste of living alone and even went to the store by herself last night and had to budget her groceries for the week.
Last night, she came home for dinner. We dined on the deck and visited into the night. She said it made her feel grown up. Larry asked how she felt about being alone while house-sitting. She said she wasn’t scared, and had Willy the dog to keep her company but she was used to having one of us around.
AH HA! She misses us.
Well, that’s my translation.
I could be off here. ☺
I’ll wrap this up with the laugh of the week:
I was helping Mom change for bedtime. And with the enthusiasm of a young mother when her toddler has stayed dry, I exclaimed, “Mom, you’re dry! Have you been dry all day?”
She said, “All night, all day” in a monotone voice.
She paused, and then said, “Marianne.”
It’s so random and yet, it seemed familiar to me…that combination of words. I look at her smiling face and she sings…”Down by the seaside, sifting sand.” Oh, my gosh it’s this old Calypso song she used to sing when I was little.
How in the world can she remember these lyrics, but mistake liver for fudge cake?
Have a great week, avoid UFO’s and sing in the potty.
P.S. The song, “Marianne” is by Hubert R. Charles and I’m thinking Marianne was not a respectable young lady, if you know what I mean.