Sunday, October 5, 2014

Doggone Dog Hair

This post is part of a log of phone conversations between me and my mother who has dementia. We are reminiscing and catching up. Mom is 90 and moved from the family farmhouse to a sort of assisted living apartment in upstate New York. I live in Florida. We have not had much contact for several years until I started calling her every few days, in August. My goal is to reconnect with her, be someone who will listen to her and share memories. These posts include parts of our conversations I feel important to write about such as events and things she wants to discuss from her life, her family and growing old. She so enjoys our phone calls. Her memory comes and goes. It seems like she has more alert days since I started calling, but that may be my wishful thinking. I am learning a lot about her status in life and how it's changed over the years from being the strong maternal figure to an elderly person who at times feels forgotten as well as forgetful.

I talked to mom twice this week and plan to call her again tonight. Not much new has come from our conversations or anything I can post here. She is preoccupied these days about having to spend the winter in upstate New York. She wants to be where it is warm, but things that have transpired between mom, my brother and his wife, and my sister and her husband, has made stays with them improbable. At least that is what she says. I don't have any direct knowledge of what happened and mom's memory can't always be trusted -- she admits that.

So, we talk about mostly her dog and how Marley isn't liking the fall weather already. Mom is afraid for her dog's feet when the sidewalks get icy. She's hoping Liz will change her mind. She hopes she will come and get her. Bring her back to her house in South Carolina and all will be fine.

Mom is not so happy about the latest with her friend who is dating Morey, the guy who lived on the corner of our street. Morey bought her friend a new car, mom says, and now they aren't inviting mom along for going to dinner or Red's and Trudy's. Why? Because, mom says, Morey found a dog hair in the new car and doesn't want mom inside the car, anymore. I asked how the hair got there and Mom said her friend told her it was on mom's clothes. So, she's sad, hurt, frustrated and not getting to go out for fish fries and pie.

The door on her entryway closet fell off its track several days ago. She left a message for the janitor to fix it, but he hasn't done so, yet. She talked about putting it in her hallway, to get attention. I convinced her not to, because it is heavy and she might get hurt. Little frustration going on.

When I talked to her on Wednesday, she she was excited because, she said, Liz was coming to visit, she thought on Friday. Mom said Liz called and asked her if she got her letter, but mom hadn't. I asked if she got the photos I sent her. She didn't think so. I don't know about the letter from Liz, but she still hadn't received the photos when we talked again on Saturday. She said, "If I got them, they would be laying out someplace around here and I don't see anything,"

We talked about the change in season and mom told me when she and dad were first married, they didn't have window screens or screen doors. Being on the farm, there were flies in the summer and they always got into the house. "I would laugh at Leslie," she said. "He would come home from work (carpenter on the railroad) and take a nap on the couch. The flies were so bad, he would take the newspaper apart and cover himself with the pages to keep the flies from bothering him. I thought that was so funny."

I told mom when I was little, dad would attached a big piece of cotton to the screen door. I thought it looked like a big scoop of mashed potatoes. She laughed about that and went on to explain the cotton was soaked in "fly spray."

 Mom credits grandma Whitney, dad's mother, for getting mom involved with church. She said while she was growing up her family never went to church. Come to think of it, I don't remember her parents, her siblings or my cousins on that side of our family going to church. Mom was a pillar of the church when we were growing up, so the idea of her not being immersed with church is hard to fathom.

We talked about Halloween, apple cider and chocolate. Mom loves chocolate BTW, especially her chocolate peanut butter fudge. She still makes some but rarely because of the diabetes. I teased about how she use to make fudge. Put everything in the pan, turn on the gas burner to just the right temperature and then she would take bath. She would always emerge, just in time to take the fudge off the stove, power stir it and pour into the pan. It was always perfect; even the grandkids remember those days.

Mom told me she was going to a potluck supper on Thursday, in the community room. She said when she first moved to her complex she was on a committee for the suppers. They asked her to bring a dessert. She didn't have what the were expecting or the ingredients. One of her neighbors at the time, had a family member pick up what ever it was for mom. After that, mom opted to chip in for things like coffee and paper supplies for the suppers.

She talked about Halloween. Mom enjoys Halloween at her complex. The residents contribute candy that's put in a large bowl. Local children file in and out to grab a handful of sweets. She remembered how my brother Jim would ration his candy and still have some left several months later. I told her, I would go for the chocolate first and the candy I'd collected was gone with in a few days. Mom said I must have gotten my love for chocolate from her. It is still hard to resist.

We talked about flowers on the farm. Mom was champion at flower gardens. We listed our favorites -- Japanese Lanterns, Dahlias, Lilacs and Lilies of the Valley (they bloomed on my birthday.) I told her the petunias were my least favorites. She would send my out to pull off the dead blooms that reminded me of used hankies. Yuck.

Mom said she is getting tired of television. I remind her she hasn't watched it in so long, she must have been tired of it a long time ago. She laughed and added there isn't anything worth watching.

We talked about the old days when we use to listen to the Bonnie's games on the radio. Saint Bonaventure basketball. We couldn't remember the announcer's name, but he was great, for painting the picture. Basketball is fast and would be hard to relate what's happening on the spot. He was great, though. I will never forget the year they ended up third in the nation. We listened to every game. Mom says they aren't terrible, but never had a team like that since. It was certainly more fun to listen to the games on the radio, than watch games these days that have ads every few minutes or having to be told that "this foul is brought to you by Pizza Hut" or "this field goal is sponsored by" so-and-so.

Anyway, I think we are up to date for now. I am calling again this evening and hoping she eventually gets all of those photos we sent.

I love you, mom. I love you, too, sweetheart.

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