Sunday, September 25, 2016


My mom is adorable.  There I said it.  Most of the folks around her are adorable.  Not cutesy bows and suspenders.  Nope these people regularly shit their pants, get lost on a locked floor, and dribble food down themselves at an alarming frequency.

There's just something whole and innocent in a person who had lived a long life and come in the end to Alzheimers.  They have lost everything and by every thought in my head are entitled to be belligerent and angry.  They pass through that stage.  It sucks.  But then they hit the adorable stage

My mom has hit the adorable stage.

So last night I cut her hair which came to her waist.  We sat outside in the warmth of an early fall evening.  I helped her into her pj's and we curled up in her bed like we usually do.

I had been to the hospital to visit someone I love like crazy, and he was on my mind while we lay in her bed - practicing relaxing and letting our minds be quiet.

"Have you said your prayers?"

Blank look.  She used to religiously (pun intended) do this every evening.  Her rosary beads were required to go to sleep.  But she hasn't done this for a long time.  I think she has forgotten about god.  She has definitely forgotten about religion - which is OK because religion has certainly forgotten about her.

She shakes her head.  "Do I need to?"

"No.  But I thought we could say a prayer for a friend of mine."

She is eager to help someone in any way she can.  We lie face-to-face across the starched whiteness of her pillow that smells faintly of bleach.

"He is in the hospital.  And we are going to pray that he gets well enough to go home."

I feel the tears puddle.  Home is someplace she will never go again.  We have sold her house.  This place is her home now.  The word home is sometimes enough to trigger the question for her about going home, but not tonight.  I breathe again for having dodged that.

"What is his name?"

I tell her.  A name is a thing of power after all.  I imagine him lying there between us - a miniature version to be sure.

And she begins in a whisper:

Dear Mother Mary,

Please help my daughter's friend.  

He wants to go home.  

Help him feel better
so he can go home.


A short but more-perfect-than-she-knows prayer for my friend.

"Do you think god would mind if I prayed for something else?"  she asks as if she is allotted only one prayer per day.

"I'm sure god would listen to anything you ask."

Her next prayer is between her and god.  When I push she won't tell me what she prayed for.

Given the fact my friend is going home less than 24 hours after her prayer for him, I hope it was a good one.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

FW 9.4.16

There are tables and tables covered with angels, Halloween, Christmas, glassware, odd dishes, and knickknacks.  Scattered across the floor, stacked against chair legs and doorways are framed pictures of tigers.  It could be an estate sale anywhere.  But today it is at my mom's.  She hasn't lived here in three years.

The house is closed and dusty smelling.  And it is sold.  I'm glad that it won't be a burden anymore.  But there's this weird eternally optimistic piece of me that is sad too.  As if it hoped for a miracle.  As if it hoped she might overcome her advanced Alzheimer's and come home someday.  And now that it's sold, it has to come to grips with the truth.  She is never coming home, never coming back here.  There will be no more family holidays with her at the epicenter.  

I am sad that an entire life comes down to this collection of baubles and junk.  Shit she clung to desperately as if it could save her.  But it didn't.  It brought her joy - for a moment anyway.  I guess it was good for that at least.  In the end, it didn't save her, didn't bring her joy.  She worried constantly about her things.  What would happen to them?  Where would they go?  Who would take them?  No one had the heart to tell her that none of it was worth anything to anyone but her, that just because she loved it and made room for it didn't mean that anyone else would.  Most of it will end at Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul or the landfill or some stranger's home.

There are old women pawing through her things, insisting I listen to their stories as they do.  I want to slap their hands away, shout at them to FUCK OFF!  I have an old woman whose stories I have to attend.  They are not her.  They are haggling over items they know are expensive.  The linen table cloth she embroidered from the time my oldest brother was born until he graduated medical school is casually looped over one of their arms.  I want to snatch it away.  I want to hold it next to my cheek as if all the love of all those stitches could be absorbed there.  But I don't.  I grit my teeth and let it go, knowing it will end up in another yard sale ten years from now and no one will know the stories, the love, the care she took.

I can't keep it all.  I don't really want to - not really.  But I would rather give it away than endure this casual haggling over her things.

This dissembly of her things is such a clear physical representation of her life, her mind.  Things stashed and stored in cubbies.  Things lost or missing parts.  Baby food jars of buttons from clothing I remember - all color coordinated.  Knitting patterns from the 1950's.  A pair of blue flannel pajamas still pinned to the pattern pieces.  Hundreds of pieces of fabric, of balls of yarn, or finished, half-finished and never-to-be-finished needlework.  The work of a life spread out for all to see and judge.

I don't know what they see when they look at it.  I suspect they see junk.  That's what makes me angry.  For in every cardinal, every snowman, every feather of every angel's wing I see my mom.  

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...