My mother is forgetting, she is forgetting the past and she is forgetting new events as soon as they occur. I do not know if she knows she is forgetting, or maybe she just forgets that she forgets, or she does not wish to remember.
Sometimes she asks a question, and gets the following answer-
It’s the week after next, I’ve told you before. Why don’t you use your diary?
But she has forgotten the diary. How can she remember? She keeps quiet.
She forgot the passing years. Many times over the years, she remarked upon how quickly my children have grown. She said that even if we had just visited the week before. I thought she was making small talk, finding something to say, but… maybe she really had forgotten the recent visits, and measured them against a visit further back in her memory.
When she came to live with me, she thought they were still young kids, and reminded me not to let them stay out late. I discovered she thought they were about 6 years younger than they actually are. She asked-
Are you sure?
So to her, time stood still for 6 years.
Someone asked her-
How old are you now?
She became younger by 4 years.
The neurologist asked, How did you spend the New Year holiday?-
Oh, I cooked. I cooked 7 dishes.
I shook my head at the neurologist. She hadn’t done that for about 5 years. (I cannot be sure, I’m forgetting too)
He put her on a skin patch, for the Alzheimer’s disease. He says it might slow down her disease progression. I am doubtful, but I agree to give it a try.
It seems to help. She is more alert, tries to remember, practises handwriting, writes down notes. She speaks more, in fact there are more words than I remember for a long time. The packing and re-packing of her bags stops, or diminishes.
But she cannot remember having to put on a skin patch. Not once has she asked for it. We have to tell her it’s time to change it. The first few days, she looked at me blankly every time-
The doorbell rings and the dog barks. She opens the door and sees the visitor, there to bring her for a walk. She waits because she has forgotten the routine. She is pleasantly and genuinely surprised each time she hears –
Let’s go for a walk.
But there is a good side to forgetting. The chip on the shoulder is finally brushed off. I see her live in the moment, and there are no regrets nor past grievances since everything is forgotten. I am sure she is aware of some change; she is careful before saying anything, in case she is wrong. She is agreeable. She tries her best. She is stoic, she doesn’t complain.
We do not speak of her memory loss. We do not reminisce. We do not discuss the long future. She trusts that we will do what is best. She believes she is fine.