Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I went to see my mother last night. When I was young, if she saw me for the first time in a while, she would say, "Whose kid are you?"

Yesterday, I dropped Rocky off at Boy Scouts and decided to drop in before I ran errands. I walked up to her and said, "Whose kid are you?"

"I don't have any kids," she intoned, scowling.

Whenever I go to see her, I have to figure out where she is in her reality and go from there. Some days she knows me and wants news of the kids, but those times are fewer and fewer. Other times she knows she knows me but not my exact identity--I am her sister, sometimes a nice lady who visits. And some days she is merely polite, as if I am one of a long string of visitors from hospice or an employee of the nursing home.

Last night, she was cranky. It appears that someone had been in the wing and stolen all their belongings and she didn't even have a bed. When she gets fixated like this, it is hard to distract her.

She had a tremor. Last time she had one of these, I noticed it stopped after she had something to drink, so I offered her a beverage. Since she drinks thickened liquids, the choice was limited, and the nurse gave me some thickened cranberry juice. Mom had a few sips and tried to put the cup down on a nonexistent table. I took it from her. A few minutes later, I offered it again. "I don't like it," she told me. So I offered her some tea. While the tea was cooling, I chatted with A, a lady who has her own reality and makes these wonderful random comments.

A asked me if I had seen her glasses. I told her no, and she informed me it had been four weeks since someone had taken them to be fixed, and she paid in advance.

"That has to be maddening," I said.

"You married him?" A raised her voice in alarm.

"Yep. And I sure won't do THAT again," I told her.

"Well, I don't blame you. I have been known to do that several times myself," she replied. I laughed, and so did my mom.

Mom said, "They have backpacks, and they carry our belongings in them, and we don't see them do it."

"Ah," I said.

A snorted. "I have decided that I need an ice cream cone."

"Sounds good to me," I told her.

Mom said, sipping her thick tea, "All our stuff was out on the sidewalk." I informed her that it was not out there, it was in her room, and I knew this for a fact because I had looked in there and checked it out.

"Charlotte," A said to me, "check on that baby."

"Yes, ma'am."

"All our stuff." Mom glared at me. "Gone." I took her down the hall and showed her the room, still intact. "Hmmpf," she said, unimpressed. I suspect she thought "they" knew we were coming and quickly put everything back so we didn't catch on. I asked her if she'd like to watch an old movie, finding John Wayne on Turner Classic. "That's fine for the men," she growled. "But they have taken everything."

I stood up. "I have to go get toilet paper," I said. I figured this was pretty much an inarguable point. "I love you, Mom," I said, kissing her on the cheek. "All our things," she whispered. "They took them."

Now I wonder if she was talking about something other than her furniture.

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