You’ve listened before (here), so I beg your indulgence again. It’s about my Mom.
My niece, her granddaughter, is getting married next Saturday. We had successfully (we thought) kept all information about the wedding from Mom, so that she would forget about it and so we would not have to take her.
But she found an invitation. Apparently it had been in that place where her hearing aids disappear to weekly, and from which they reappear after she makes call after call after call to my wife and me to help her find them. We look, we give up, then tomorrow they are back in her ears. Another of the endless Alzheimer mysteries.
So now, she wants to go to this wedding. She called six times yesterday to tell me that.
“Do you know who’s getting married?” I ask.
“Oh, you know, is it your cousin? You know, those people we visited one time,” she answers.
“Do you know when it is?”
“It’s tomorrow, I think, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s the 1st of September.”
“No, the 1st. Write it down.”
“OK, the 3rd.”
This morning she called with a terrible headache. She has “never had one this bad before” which is an almost daily refrain. I’m screaming into the phone, because she has lost her hearing aids- again: “There are aspirins in the top drawer of the dresser.”
“Let me look.” Three minutes later, she returns to the phone. “Where did you say they are?”
“In the top left drawer of the dresser. In a white dish.”
Another two minutes pass during which I can hear dishes being moved around, which are nowhere near the dresser. “I’m sorry, I just can’t find them.”
“I’ll be right there.” I hang up. I curse.
She stays about ten minutes away in an assisted-living home. I go into her room. I find the white dish sitting now on top of the dresser, and the aspirins are spilled everywhere. I give her two of them. She chews them and says immediately, “That’s better already.”
“See you later, Mom.”
“Thank you. I’m going back to bed. Do you have my hearing aids at your house?”
Driving back, I think the only way I can get through the next several months or years of this terrible goddamn disease is to consider Mom to have died about two years ago. I know-“horrible, horrible”- but this woman is not my Mom. She’s not the woman who made cakes and cookies for everyone in time to send them for birthdays, Christmas, and out-of-the-blue days when she just simply felt like saying, “I love you.” She’s not the woman who would send cards to a hundred different people, always on time, or who would arrange Monday lunches at the church for the 50-60 people who just needed a place to eat, in community with others. She’s not the woman who drove every Saturday to sort out clothes for needy people at the welfare building, or who visited shut-ins almost every day, or who would walk two miles every day in the woods with neighbor ladies.
I miss that woman- my Mom- terribly. And I’ll treat this woman who is left lovingly and with respect, but I just don’t know what to do some days. I want my Mom back, and I know she can’t come back and I don’t want this woman to suffer and so I am left to pray and to hope for that which sounds so awful that I can’t even write the words here.
But it’s true, and it’s a real prayer..