Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Lunch with Dementia

Mom paused, laying her fork in the middle of her potato salad otherwise untouched, and folded her napkin. She seemed to be looking at something out the window; maybe it was the white puppy playing at Beth’s, Mom’s neighbor and friend. Maybe it was the lilies in bloom along the property line, she planted years earlier when she and Dad first bought the place for their retirement. I looked in the direction of her stare to share in her sudden distraction, but only saw the adjacent field. What was she seeing? Where was she? “Mom? You’re not hungry?” “Nothing seems to have any taste anymore,” she sighed.

Looking back, I know Mom was referring to more than the Chicken and Potato Salad. Life itself had become tasteless. Taking with it the recollections of precious, past details and recent conversations with friends and loved ones, the cruelties of dementia had stolen Mom’s joy for the day as well.
I saw across the table, a woman I’d known my whole life, and a woman I no longer knew. The expression she wore was one dimensional, much like the life-sized cutout of Dolly Parton we saw at the Tennessee State Line on our trip home from the mountains a few years ago. I feared the future for Mom and for us all at that moment. I knew there was no escaping from this fog, but yet I drove forward desperately hoping for the sun. The end would come slowly as the effects of dementia clawed its way through, shredding the essence of what used to be My Mother.
Me and Mom on her 75th Birthday Surprise Party
(She died unexpectedly 3 months later)
“What do you think I should do?” she asked, waking me from my own temporary departure from our lunch-talk. “I am sorry Mom, what were you asking?” She repeated her question about getting her dishwasher repaired or buying a new one. Suddenly we were back to Thursday on Hillside Drive at her kitchen table where we ate in familiarity as we had for years, and for the moment I am having lunch with my dear Mom. There would only be a few of those moments, I thought we would have more.

#dementia #aging #missingmom #justwrite