Sunday, April 19, 2015

Circular conversation

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.

These days, talking with mom is more like a lesson in patience. The poor gal is so wound up with herself, her plight of loneliness and the blame she places on others, it has become her only topic. I do spend time trying to get her off that hamster wheel, by bringing up old times. She laughs, adds her two cents and then goes back to the wheel. The past few times we spoke, I let her go on, hoping she would finally run out of steam. Doesn't happen and I think it is because she doesn't have anyone for venting. She even said yesterday, something to that effect. I forgot to note exactly what she said because I wasn't really listening.

The gripes: no friends, family doesn't care about her, no friends, her family doesn't care about her, no friends, her family doesn't care about her, no friends and her family doesn't care about her. Did you get all of that?

There are other complaints, but the above mentioned are the biggies. 

Even though it was 70 with sunshine Saturday, she is still carrying on about not being invited to spend LAST winter in a warmer climate with my sister Liz or brother Jim. And, she's already starting in about suffering again next winter. I remind her it is April and her favorite spring and summer months are around the corner. 

"Yes," she agrees and moves on to list what she looks forward to, like the weekly concerts held in the park across the street from her apartment. "That starts in the summer. I don't have a chair, but I will just go over and sit on the ground. Someone took all of my chairs." She's talking about folding chairs that are part of a card table set. Then she goes on speculating over who took them. I tell her she can't carry a heavy folding chair to the park and she says she will have Dennis get another chair for her.Poor Dennis has become her 24-hour go-to guy for whatever she thinks she needs.

"I won't have anyone to go with me, but that's okay." That's when I asked about her friend Velma. I talked to Dennis and Vicki before calling mom and they said she'd gone out to eat on Friday with Velma. so, I asked if she'd seen or heard from her lately. "No," she replied. "She's still mad at me."

So they went out to dinner on Friday evening and on Saturday afternoon, mom's forgotten.

We get back to the GOOD stuff that will be happening when it warms up. 

* She likes watching the kids play sports on the fields behind her complex,  
* Counting cars and traffic watching are better than TV.
* She will take more walks around the small downtown.

Oh yes and she wants to go live with Dennis, part of the time, anyway. She's is worried about her options drying up. she's afraid "they" will put her in one of those places where someone will feed her like a baby. I told her to make sure she is doing two things: eating right and taking her medicines. "Oh, I do that," she said. 

It is a mental workout on calls like this, but I concede she has a lot of time with nothing else to do. I am her sounding board. So, I listen and get a thought or two, when I get a chance.

We did get a good laugh over something she made me think of. One time my dad's brother August called around nine at night. He said he heard on the news there were tornado warnings in our area and said everyone should sleep downstairs, to be safe. I was eight or nine, so that meant mom, dad, me, my brother Dick, Jim, maybe Liz if she was born by then, my grandparents and my aunt Theresa all bundled up in chairs and on couches. 

Mom remembered that and what a horrible night it turned out to be, just waiting for something bad to happen. I told her I expected to pull back a curtain that was hanging at the staircase entry and seeing the sky, that everything would be gone. She laughed and said she'd had similar thoughts. 

That next day, mom wasn't happy with my uncle for his inaccurate prediction.

Oh and she said the curtain was hanging there to keep heat from going upstairs. They (my grandparents whose bedroom was downstairs) said they (those who slept upstairs) didn't need heat to sleep.

That's it for this post.

"I love you, mom."

"I love you too, dear."

No comments:

Post a Comment