Recall during my mom’s second neurology appointment when the doctor asked her if she was able to meet her work obligations, if any (at the age of 79). Mom replied that she was and I brassily challenged her by asking how her work for Scarlett was coming along. It was at this point she stormed out of the room.

Mom spent the vast majority of her career as an art historian editor. She was good, working for a major university, its press, and the man who, literally, created the study of the subject. After taking a golden handshake/early retirement, she kept herself amply self-employed by museums and authors around the country. 
By the time my dad became ill in late 2004, her work load had diminished. To what extent, I don’t know. By the time he passed away last year, she wasn’t working at all.

Scarlett, a former graduate student, looked mom up sometime early last fall needing editing services. Mom took the commission. Suddenly there were manuscripts showing up, via UPS, at both houses as Scarlett wanted to make sure mom would receive them no matter where mom was. When mom was on the Island, I was sent to look for the manuscript at the mainland house. While I thought the running around was a tad much (in the pouring rain) particularly as mom had a copy in her hand on the Island, it did give her some focus and drive. 

Mom got through the first chapter and returned it. The second chapter arrived, mom started working on it, carried with her in her briefcase, but never gained any traction on it. Further, I think she was working on two copies of it without realizing it. This due to Scarlett so diligently sending a copy to each house.

When mom and I would talk on the phone, I’d ask how her editing project was going. She’d tell me she was having a hard time getting going, that she needed 4 hours for 4 to 5 days to finish it up. I’d encourage her. We had this snippet of converstaion twice a week for months. When I’d go to the Island, the chapter would be on her desk, usually buried under other paper.

Yesterday I saw communication between mom and Scarlett. Mom has returned Charpter 2, apologizing profusely  for not finishing the project. She blames this on her husband’s extended final illness and the protracted, yet still incomplete, move from the Island to the Mainland. 

My dad’s final illness was a month in duration. Perhaps we have different definitions of the word “extended.” Mom took this commission after dad died, like 6 months after he died. and further, she hasn’t moved anything from the Island to the mainland house since before dad died, nor does she have any intention of moving to the mainland.

This gets better… Mom called me last night. Among other things discussed, she told me she finished the editing job for Scarlett, sent it back to her and that Scarlett wasn’t at all concerned that it took mom a month to do! She doesn’t think she’ll bill Scarlett. Awfully generous of her. 

I am left wondering, again, if this is lying (if so, mom is creating ripples of lies around her). Then why? To save face? To be right? Or is this purely the dementia? Does the dementia make one more prone to wanting to save face and/or lie? I can picture this but also could see dementia making one incapable of lying. I suspect it’s a combination of the two. It’s like having a 4 year old bopping around.

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