Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mom's birthday, part one

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 91 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.

Despite suffering with a cold, mom was upbeat and in a talking mood, when I called her at lunchtime to wish her a happy birthday. She thought someone may have called her and she did get cards, but didn't have anything special planned for her 91st birthday. I asked her to make a list of the people who called her today and she replied that it would be an empty list. Hey, put my name, Antsy Nancy, first on that list, I teased.

I explained that I wanted to make her a treat, but couldn't decide what to make. Instead, I took a quart of strawberries to our neighbor, Horst, this morning. He is a great neighbor, always has a smile and kind words. He is diabetic like mom. I presented the berries to him explaining that it is my mom's birthday. I couldn't think of a healthy treat to send her and today is too late. So, I decided to give him a gift. Horst appreciated the gesture and asked me to pass his birthday wishes on to mom.

She laughed and loved that idea. Her goal today is to get some phone calls and cards. The gift of conversation is the best.

She did go out for dinner with Velma and Morey. They went for a fish fry at the Hibernia restaurant, mom's favorite place. Then they finished the evening off  at Red's and Trudy's Diner for coffee and pie. I am so glad they went out together. Mom has been feeling low over something that happened between her and Velma. They've been best friends for a long time. They were spending a lot of evenings together for years. Velma drives and has a car, so mom relies on Velma for most of her social life. For the past several months,mom says she hasn't seen Velma as often and there weren't as many dinners invites.

Going out with Velma last night was a huge boost  to mom's morale. It was just like old times and I could sense her happiness. She still talked about how disappointed she is about not getting asked to spend the winter where it is warmer, but not with so much fervor and repeated herself about it less often. It was more of an aside. She had better things to talk about, like dinner last night.

I was surprised how well she was doing today. She wants to write an article, describing what it feels like to have dementia. She wants to help others, especially children and younger people understand what is happening in someone's mind. Discuss the confusion. We talked it over and I told her I would write it for her. I told her I will call some afternoon, when she's feeling better and work on it. Then I will write and send her the piece for her to read. She LOVED that idea. Today anyways.

We had a wonderful visit. Actually, too much to write about now. I will be calling her tonight about that phone list of birthday wishes and get an update on the day's activities. Then I will be back with a bunch more from mom.

"I love you, mom."

"I love you too, dear."

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