Mom is getting more confused. It doesn’t show up all the time, but the occasions are funny-sad.
I call home to remind mom to take her lunch. My help, M, had taken a couple of days off, and mom can still be left alone at home for a few hours.
Hi mom! Have you taken your lunch?
No, not yet.
Well, it’s one o’clock, you can take it now. By the way, remember we will be going out tonight. I will buy dinner home, and after dinner, we will go out with B.
Oh… How do you know?
This is a little strange, but I just explained B and I had made plans earlier. She went on,
Where are you now?
I’m at work.
Oh, you are at work! Wah, you’re working so hard, eh?
Okay by this time, I realise she did not know who I was. All her questions were her way of trying to gather clues about my identity. So I said,
I’m Angie, Mom!
She laughed and I thought she understood. After reminding her again to take lunch, I rang off.
Later that night, my daughter spoke to me. She had come home to Grandma eating lunch, and she told my daughter someone had called to remind her to eat. She told my daughter that the person on the phone said she was “Angie’s mom”.
My mom had always had difficulty with names. She learned very few of my friends’ names when I was in school. Now she finds ways to avoid using names.
“My son” is used to refer to my brother. She sometimes uses “my son” to me and my children, when “your brother” and “your uncle” would be more appropriate.
Sometimes I wonder if there is confusion about identity. One day, I came home and my daughter had just gone out. She told me, “Angie just went out”. I said, “No, I’m Angie, and I’m back.” She pointed towards my daughter’s room, and said, “I mean her, she just went out”.
She resisted learning the name of my help, calling her “the servant”. To this, I have repeatedly and firmly told her not to do that, but to refer to her by name. I am happy to report she is learning, in a way. She cannot recall her name, but can recognise it, and remembers not to say “servant”.
The difficulty with names makes it difficult for her to initiate conversations about people. She cannot tell us who she is thinking about, and who called her during the day. So she doesn’t tell us about anything that happened.
But it is more than just names of people and things my mom has forgotten. It is the meaning and relationship and the stuff that goes with the names. I feel some things are held on to more strongly and some are not.
She is close to my brother and looks forwards to his visits. She brightens up when he calls, and has plenty of stories to tell him. She definitely knows he is her son.
As for me, I wonder if she remembers I am her daughter. Or maybe she does remember on one level, but the knowledge is not held onto so strongly. Hence:
- she fails to recognise her son is my brother
- she mixes up me and my daughter
- she doesn’t understand why I would call her “mom” (resulting in the phone call fiasco)
Some of this may be contributed by how she interpreted our culture. When I got married she told me I had officially left the family. On visits back “home” to see her, I would be a guest, and therefore must always bring a gift. Usually this is just fruit or some food item. For the record, I did not always comply, and she never minded when I didn’t.
So now she lives in my house as a guest, not as a matriarch.
It’s good. I’m okay.