Rolling with the Punches
In the recent past I would have logged the following in a v-e-r-y large Word document I’ve been keeping for over a year and a half now. The last 2+ days mom that has been on the mainland has witnessed the usual robust demonstration of her waning short term memory.. Here’s a longhand version of what I might enter (not in any particular order) :
Some context… Tuesday evening we discussed that we’d get together after my husband and I dropped his car off at the shop on Wednesday. I’d pick her up, we’d go to the grocery and the bank. It was really important to her that she go to the bank. I said I’d call her an hour ahead of when I’d pick her up as I wasn’t sure what time we were dropping the car off.
* She called Wednesday morning to say she was ready to walk over and roll her sleeves up to help with Thanksgiving prep. I reminded her of our plans and she asked simply, “The Bank?” I had to remind her that she expressed the desire to extract cash (multiple times) from the bank the day before. I stopped short of describing the urgency that this expression carried.
* We went on our little outing. She added the much talked about bottle of wine she wanted to contribute to today’s dinner, despite my assuring her we had enough, to the shopping cart. Later in the afternoon she asked if I was going to the grocery. I said, “No mom, we went this morning.” She said, “Oh, that’s right.”
* When we arrived at her Mainland home on Monday she unpacked a small packback of food she brought from her Island home. I laughed and called it the Clown Packback. It was magic. The food just kept coming out! She brought enough food for breakfasts and lunches (if one included the canned soup stores in the cupboard) for a week, while professing wanting to return to the Island on Friday. I’m talking: 3 yogurts, a pint of cottage cheese, 2 grapefruit, a lemon, butter, cheese, french bread, apples, a mango, three eggs, 2 gatorades, a sausage and several other things I’m glazing over… We then had to go to the market and buy cereal, whole milk and bananas to add to her supplies. My husband say of his mother-in-law, “She is a model of self reliance.”
* While she was putting all of this food away she was also trying to take stock of what she needed. She could not recall what was in the (soup) cupboard that she just spent 4 seconds staring at, and opened it 3-4 times. This in figuring out if she had things for the 1 (one) lunch she would be having on her own. She couldn’t get everything in the fridge all at once or recall what was in the fridge once she’s placed it there. I sat at the kitchen counter gently redirecting and making her shopping list for her.
* She had the hardest time remembering:
*That we were having dinner at our place Monday evening (multiple times).
*That we were having dinner at daughter #2’s place Tuesday evening (multiple times).
* While driving here and there Monday & Tuesday she asked if there was a bank in our grocery store’s ‘strip mall.’ Merely the same bank she’s been going into for most of a decade. A similar question was asked about the locale of a Japanese restaurant. We’ve all been going to our favorite sushi place, mom included, for 15 years. What I found interesting about this question is she didn’t ask about a Sushi place. It’s like she lost the word.
* Last night mom asked me where my daughter #1 lives. When I replied “Katy,” mom looked quizzically and asked, “In Texas?” My daughter has lived in Texas for more than 8 years.
* Mom asked if my step-daughter was in school. My step-daughter has been in college since her third year of high school. It’s been an amalgam of an education and so even a cognitively unchallenged person might not recall when my step daughter started college, but they would very likely remember the answer to the same question asked 4 times this year.
* Mom asked if my grandson was now 7 months old. I cheerfully told her that he was almost 11 months old.
* Before entering her house on Monday she asked if there was anything she had to turn off upon entering the house. She meant an alarm system. I reminded her that she has an alarm system, but doesn’t use it. I actually alarm the house when she’s on the Island. She has no capacity to use an alarm. Before she and dad bought the Mainland house they would stay with us. I set our alarm code to something they could not forget and still it was a mystery. They started getting friendly with our local police who came by to see who was breaking in.
* Yesterday after we cooked up a storm, prettied up the front porch and fed the chickens, mom was ready to head back to her place for a bit. It was warm and windy. I asked her if she wanted a lift back, fully expecting her to turn me down in favor of the two block stroll. She said a ride would be very nice as she didn’t feel like walking just then. This is a lady who goes for 1 to 2 walks a day with neighbors in the country. I ran her home. It dawned on me later she was probably worried about not finding her way back to her house. (She just called, 30 minutes early, to ask if I was ready to start cooking. When I reminded her of our launch time, she asked for a lift from her place to ours stating she didn’t want to walk in ‘this cold.’ It’s November 27th in the NW and 55 degrees out. There are people at the beach right now in shorts, guaranteed).
* After dinner last night my husband took her home. He went inside to see if he could fix the cable system. On Monday it was working perfectly. Yes, there is always the possibility something is acually wrong with it, BUT it’s the same issue everytime I fix it. And I am always able to fix it. Mom maintains she doesn’t do anything different each time she turns on the TV but…. What it boils down to is she can’t recall how to reset the system so it will work, even with written instructions.
In all of this, it’s actually going pretty well. I’ve learned not to react to my mom telling me what do. I say yes a whole lot rather than pointlessly argue. The giblets will go from the freezer to the trash on Sunday. I won’t let the uncured ham come up to room temp before putting in the oven, I will use ‘easy garlic (find it at Trader Joe’s in the freezer section ~ really!) in the dressing, and organic rices rather than French bread, yup, just like I have for over ten years now. What matters overall, she’s a happy camper.