Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mom has new clock

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.

"You should see this clock," mom says during our phone conversation,Tuesday evening. "I don't know who gave it to me. It has great big numbers and some other stuff on it." She'd just asked me what time it was and as I checked, she answered herself, it was 8:51. Right I agreed and then she started talking about the clock. I told her she'd told me a couple of weeks ago that my sister Liz gave it to her. I knew that it also displayed the day and date, but asked her what the other "stuff" was.

"Aah, I don't know, I can't read it," She says. Does it tell you the day and date? "Yes, that is what it says. I couldn't make it out."

This part of our conversation occurred 50 minutes or so after we began talking. When she was feeling happier.

It was a different conversation, at first. She had been knocking on doors before I called. Looking for company, in her senior-adult complex. But, she says no one invited her inside. No one needed her company and she was lonely.

"They all have their own friends. They stay in (their apartments) and watch TV. When I first moved here there was always something going on, downstairs (in the community room). There was always someone to talk to and something to do. Now, I am a lot older than the rest of them and they don't want anything to do with me."

Bear in mind, she's lived in this apartment for a couple of years, not 20, so the age difference shouldn't  have changed that much. Also, it is tedious talking to mom. She is wrapped up in her own miserable circumstances. She will go on nonstop about her woes. Her dementia makes it worse. It is like listening to a broken record. I imagine her neighbors would rather watch TV than listen to the same complaints.

We've talked a couple of times since my last post, about her. For a while, it was tough to get her on a different subject. I needed to check with my brother Dennis and his wife Vicki on a few things she'd told me, to get the complete story.

She did have a bad fall a few weeks ago. At first she'd said she fell, but then talked about when she fell a couple of years ago. I am still not sure what happened, but she ended up with a black eye, a gash on her forehead and cut her hand up. This is what Dennis told me. Her glasses had to be replaced and her hearing aid was damaged.

She nearly fell again a few days ago, so Dennis has been making daily trips to her place to walk her dog and take her to get her hair done, because the slightly warmer weather has turned streets and sidewalks into sheets of ice.

Dennis has done a stellar job of taking care of mom. He is patient with her and faithful. He was glad for the new clock. Mom never remembers what day it is, or month. The time escapes her, too. The only problem is, she tinkers with it. He says every time he goes there, she's changed the time. He tells her to leave it as is, but she forgets to do that.

I did manage to cheer her up, during our recent visit. I brought up the time when I was sitting in the kitchen with a family friend, Chuck. Mom was at the sink doing something and started laughing over something we'd said. Neither of us thought we'd said anything funny. I asked mom what she was laughing about, but when she tried to tell us, she would  burst out laughing again. This went on for several minutes, until she had us uncontrollably laughing along with her -- even though we had no idea why or what was so funny.

Eventually, we were quieting down to giggles, when Dennis walked in and asked what was so funny. Well, that started the whole laugh session all over again. More stomach muscles were still aching the next day.

I told mom we never did find out what she thought was so funny, but that really didn't matter. This happened when I was in my 30's and mom in her 50's. She and I had our ups and downs. This is a memory, I will never forget.

Mom loved my telling her this story. I don't think she remembers that time, but she was laughing pretty hard, on the phone.

"See, you are good for me. You always remember something that reminds me we had a good life. We had good times. I am so grateful for your calls."

And when the new clock read 9:00, we said goodnight.

"I love you, mom."

"I love you too, sweetheart."

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