Monday, September 15, 2014

Two conversations. Real mixed bag.

I wrote in my last post how mom seemed like a new woman. She knew who I was. She brought things to clarify from our recent conversation and acknowledged her memory was improving. She was laughing, happy and very chatty. That was one week ago, on Tuesday.

But when I called her two days later, she sounded lost at sea. She told me my sister Liz was there, at first she said that day (Thursday). Later she corrected herself and said Liz visited her on Wednesday and that she had taken mom to a doctor's appointment and out to dinner at Sprague's Turkey House. She couldn't remember much else about what they did or what they talked about.  

When I first called on Thursday mom said. "Hello, I was wondering when you were going to call again. I was going to tell Liz you were going to call me, but I haven't heard from you in a while, so I didn't say anything to her."  I replied that we'd talked on Tuesday and she was going to write down that I would be calling her again on Thursday. "Huh, well I probably wrote it down and lost the paper."

We talked for a half hour. Most of it was rehashing and repeating things she's talked about before. Not much new. She was more confused than usual. I asked if Liz would be coming by again and she didn't think so.  Mom talked about being hurt and being by herself. She feels bad that the Eastern Star hasn't reached out to invite her to meetings or gatherings. She was kind of big to-do in that organization many years ago. She knows the membership has changed, with members now who are daughters and granddaughters from the women with which she served. She says of family and her favorite organization, They just don't understand what it is like. And they won't know what it is like until they are old and in this condition. But she did look forward to Friday fish fry night.

I was supposed to call her on Saturday and I tried several times throughout the day, but she was on the go all day. I caught up with her on Sunday afternoon and we ended up talking for over an hour. She said Liz came by and took her to Olean for a bite to eat on Saturday. They went through her wardrobe and Liz decided mom didn't need to go clothes shopping.  "I really don't need anything, but sometimes you just want to get some new clothes," mom said. "I am going to see if Dennis will take me to Walmart. He can get me a discount."

She was more settled. That morning she meant to go, but never made it to church. She got as far as the bench outside and just sat. Liz stopped by to tell her she was going back home and to say goodbye. I asked if it bothered her to have Liz leave. At first she said, "I am feeling bad and depressed. Yes, it is depression. It is all part of growing old. Some days are better than others." Later she admitted she was happy to be with Liz and sad to see here leave. But she loves that Liz comes to see her, when she can, even though it is a long trip. It is everyone else who ignores her existence that 
is bothering her.

I am beginning to see how it will be heart-wrenching to grow old and see everything you've enjoyed and counted on, drift away from you. It is easier for the young, with full lives to turn away. You are old and they are not. In your mind, you gave them your time, a lot of time. You think you made sacrifices along the way. But, from their point of view, well it is different. If they turn away, they can ignore and forget how you were once a part of their lives. 

We turned to some lighter chatter. September 20th, will be mom and dad's 73rd wedding anniversary and I suggested she plan a little party for herself. "That's a good idea," she agreed. "Are you coming to visit me? I told someone you were. Maybe I told Liz, I can't remember." No, I told her I don't have plans for a visit. It is kind of hard for us to get away. "Oh, well I told someone you were coming. Now where are you? I forgot." Florida, I said, near Tampa. And that brought on her lament about not being invited to spend winter in South Carolina or Florida.

"Oh, I just got a fly," mom shouted. I asked if she swatted it with a fly swatter. No, she said. Her window screen isn't in just right and it was in the crack between the screen and window sill. So she poked it with her finger. She reassured me she didn't squish it just poked it enough to kill it.

That reminded me of a memory I had, but she she didn't know about. My Grandma Whitney hated flies. So much so, that one time she made a deal with my older brother, Dick. She would give him a penny for every dead fly he brought her. In a short time we brought her a pile of dead flies and she paid him for his efforts. I can't remember how many flies he counted out to her, but I did know he tore flies in half, in order to make more money. He knew she wouldn't inspect the fly bodies too closely.

Mom had a good laugh from that memory. "That was Dick?" she asked. "Dick was an enterprising one."

We talked for quite awhile about people growing old. She talked about Gowanda State Hospital and how they use to put people there, give them drugs, but never gave them anything to do. 

We talked about Thrifty Westies that turned into Westons Shoppers City and is now a huge furniture store, according to mom.

We talked about the creek next to Grandma Pire's house and how we kids spent hours building dams and catching polliwogs that mom would have to later throw out. We talked about the creek on the farm and I told her how once, when I was walking along the creek, a flock of hummingbirds flying along the creek, nearly ran into me as they passed. They darted around my head and just kept going. Was a little scary.

We talked about mom making noodles -- great amounts at a time. She wants to make them again someday, only a much smaller batch.

We did a lot of talking and finally said our "Love yous" and "good nights." Calling again on Tuesday (tomorrow) and I know we will find a lot more to to remember, rehash and smile over. I love you, mom. I love you, too dear.

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