Haircut

I would test Mom

and ask how her day went

after she’d had an outing.

Often I got a blank stare

or a vague reply, as

her memory is fading.

Today was different –

“I had a haircut”, she offered,

“By the usual lady.

She’s been cutting my hair

a long time now”,

she happily told me.

 

 

Forgotten, in a manner

Mom was admitted to hospital for a brief illness, and I was visiting her.

“Hello, how are you today?”

“Hello. My daughter just went off.”

I wasn’t expecting that. “It’s me. I’m your daughter, Mom.”

She looks uncertain, and then, “No,” she says, “My daughter, she just went over there. Can you go and get her?”

I knew she had an earlier visitor, but hadn’t realized she thought that person was me, or so I hope, if she still remembers she had a daughter like me. So I decided to go along, “Oh, she’ll be back in a while.”

It’s really strange and unexpected.

At home, we never go to Mom and ask her, “Do you know who I am?” We assume all is fine if we get a cheery Good Morning! or Hello! The routine exchange of greetings, the signs of familiarity, the ease with which Mom navigates to her regular chair; surely all is well.

Or maybe the problem isn’t Mom, but me. Maybe I’m forgettable. Really.

I once went back to a workplace after a gap of a year. There were a few familiar faces at work that day, but they could not recall me. “Did you work here before? When? Really? No, we can’t remember you” they said. It gave me a turn and my heart pounded. I had a fleeting thought of “Twilight Zone” and then I wondered if I had caused offense and was being purposely “forgotten”.

On thinking back, I think it could be because I was task focused and did not get to know these colleagues personally, or they were task focused and did not see me. Or the turnover of staff was so high that those who stayed did not bother to keep track and remember those who had left.

Whatever, I think I can accept being forgotten. It’s the forgetting I’d rather not have.

Reality Check

Mom is back from hospital, and physically she is much improved. No more fever and no more falls. But that’s about it. She isn’t physically up to where she was a few months ago, and mentally, her dementia seems to be progressing.

We could almost see the Words fade and disappear. We sense the Meanings of words shape-shifting.

She has forgotten her birth date. She can no longer sign her name because she cannot grasp the order of her first, middle and last name. She has definitely forgotten her age – she used to be able to name the decade, but now she is completely off. Or maybe she no longer has any sense of numbers.

She is poetic, though. “The Rain falls like a Lump from the Sky”.

She gets up in the morning, and goes to bed at night. I remind myself to be grateful for that! Enjoy this while it lasts.

She can still make her breakfast, but she often has no appetite, and throws it away. She eats very little now, but because she is so sedentary, she is not losing weight.

And we? We are mostly in denial. Surely these changes are reversible? If not completely, then somewhat. We will step up the exercises, and stimulate the neurons. Grow, grow! Make new connections! Then maybe the Words will be back.

Mom is still Mom. She knows who she is, and she knows who we are.