She forgot herself, her old job, what she used to do.
Did I really work?
Did I do all that?
She forgot her relatives, confused her siblings with her children.
She forgot her in-laws, knowing they were still familiar.
She forgot her children, forgetting she is a mother.
She forgot her husband, perhaps not surprising, he’s been gone many years.
She forgot her grandchildren, doesn’t recognize them.
She remembers how to eat, how to go to bed, how to rise in the morning.
She remembers how to wash herself, though she confuses the shampoo with the body wash.
She remembers numbers, but just barely gets up to ten.
She remembers to smile and she smiles often, everyday.
Looking through old photographs of Mom, it becomes obvious to me how much Mom has changed. Many years ago when I was younger, she would hardly pose for photos, “I’m too busy,” she would say, “what do you want a picture for? I’m not dressed for it”. Her smile for the camera, if we could get her to pose, would be an intelligent one, sure of herself.
In more recent years, after the onset of dementia, she often seemed to be laughing and smiling very brightly. I remembered those occasions. When we dined out, she would only give a quick glance at the menu and say, “What are you having?” and then, “I’ll have that too”. Her indecision extended to other areas, especially dressing, and packing for travelling, “What shall I wear? What should I bring?”. And later on, the questions broadened into, “What do I do now?”
Sometimes I wondered at the overbright smiles, was she hiding her uncertainty? Trying to fit in, being obliging, quick to join in in case a joke had just been made? Or maybe she was just happy, and its just me who was too suspicious because it seemed so out of character.
Nowadays, Mom smiles and laughs easily, she seems almost “ticklish” at times. She’s happy to be alive and looks forward to what the day brings, whatever it might be.
Everyday my mom starts her day by greeting me thus.
She calls me Sister only but once a day. The rest of the day I am nobody. But without a doubt I will be Sister once more when morning comes again. It is like a game we play, every day, same time, same place.
I tried interupting her by boldly saying “Good morning, Mom!” before she can get a word in, but she only laughs and says back, “Good morning, Sister!”