I was happy to find Mom semi-awake when I arrived.
It was the first time in about a week that she’d not been dead to the world when I got there. My visits had been confined to between one and three except on Tuesday when my slot was 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.. No doubt the choice of hours was deliberate; Mom usually napped in the afternoons. Cruel rules to punish me for my advocacy.
I would not be deterred. When I found her asleep, I sat beside her and read while she slumbered in a recliner inches away. Sometimes I held her hand. I whispered her name every now and then to see if she might waken. Mostly she didn’t. Several days might go by with us unable to speak because she was asleep.
I was angry and frustrated by the prison bars that held us both hostage for no good reason. I spat poetry and licked my wounds. I wrote blog posts and more poetry and celebrated stolen moments when they sneaked around a corner.
But that day, August 4, 2015, Mom was sufficiently roused to go downstairs for tea. The previous few days had been especially painful, and I was thankful she was awake. We took the elevator to the ground floor and then, as we rolled down the hall, she made an intuitive observation as she sometimes did despite her dementia, or perhaps because of it.
“You had a bad thing there,” she said.
“I did,” I agreed as we entered the drawing room.
“Okay dear, well I’ll tell them you had some de de de de deficit.” She was breathless by the time she got to the end of the sentence, and I wasn’t quite sure I’d understood her correctly.
“Pardon me?” I asked for clarification.
“I’ll tell them you had some deficit,” she repeated, this time without stuttering.
“Yeah, I’m having some deficit alright,” I confirmed. “How are you doing though? How are you feeling?”
“I’m fine.” She remained in her wheelchair. I sat down on the sofa. Our knees touched. We held hands and chitchatted in “dementia speak.” Every now and again Mom patted my arm.
“Love taps are wonderful,” I said when she did.
“They are. They are mummy,” she said. She was right. They were.
“I’ve missed you,” I said. “I came yesterday, but you were asleep. And the day before I couldn’t come because I played in a golf tournament and I was terrible Mom, I had nines and eights–”
“Oh my goodness. Well anyway, la la la la la la let’s say you had a had a had a had a good a better one a better one than the one–“
I burst out laughing. “Yeah Mom. Let’s lie! Let’s lie and say I had a better game than I did.”
Like me, Mom was a glass half full kind of person. She whacked the back of my hand furiously in encouragement.
“I love you Mom,” I tasted the softness in my voice. It was like warm caramel.
“I love you too. And I feel badly about…” Her voice trailed off, but she looked right at me. Her eyes were clear. She was fully awake, alert and aware in the moment.
“About what Mom?”
“About everything that happened,” she was unequivocal.
“Me too Mom.” My voice cracked. My eyes began to fill. How did she know these things?
“What can we do?” She posed a rhetorical question.
“Nothing,” I said.
“We can’t do anything about things that are playing…that are playing…ba ba ba ba bad things that are playing things about ourselves…you know.” She fought Alzheimer’s aphasia as she stumbled through her simple explanation of destiny and life. Her voice splintered and her eyes moistened. She tapped my hand more gently.
“But it’s a ga ga ga ga good good good good good good good good good good good good come come come come to mummy anyway.” Boom. Straight to my heart. Tears streamed down my face. I let them flow.
“Come to mummy anyway. It’s a a ga ga ga ga good good good good thing. Yeah. It’s a good thing.”
August 4, 2015