Conversations with Mom

My mother no longer has a social filter. Not that she ever had a strong one, but she used to make an attempt. Now, anything goes…without apology or pretense. Recently diagnosed with vascular dementia (not to be confused with Alzheimer’s), the gerontologist explained how in addition to confusion and forgetfulness, her condition might create inappropriate behavior and lack of tact. My brothers and I and our spouses all looked at each other and shrugged, “And your point is?”

Sunday morning at the kitchen table-

Mom: Make me some eggs.

Me: And the magic word would be??

(Now that’s something I never thought I’d be saying to my mother…right up there with, “Where are your underpants and why aren’t you wearing them?”

Mom: Stop mumbling.

Me: How would you like your eggs?

Mom: Not snotty.

Me: No snot. Got it.

I make us each an egg over easy’ish and an English muffin. With a flourish, I set breakfast on the table.

Mom: You hard-boiled it.

Me: Did not! You didn’t want it runny.

Mom: I didn’t want it hard-boiled either.

Me: Use your fork and break it up. It isn’t hard on the inside.

Instead, my mother smears the English muffin across the top of her egg, then sticks the egg-free muffin in my face like a child would, to prove the egg is indeed…hard. She gives me ‘the look’ and smirks.

Me: Would you like me to make you another egg?

Mom (grumbling): Ohhhhhh, I’ll eat this one. Get me a piece of Italian bread.

5 minutes later-

Me: Well, the egg couldn’t have been too bad. You cleaned your plate and didn’t leave anything behind.

Without responding, my mother wipes the table with her napkin and dumps these crumbs onto her plate.

Mom (matter-of-factly): I left behind a lot of crumbs……………………Do you ever think to curl your hair?

Me: No.

Mom: You should.

I have a brief image of my mother as a younger woman. When we were kids, she’d put her hair up each morning in rollers, then wrap her head with a cloth diaper (and yes, I mean a diaper, not a bandana)…and go out in public like that. Yup, I ought to get started on this hair curling thing right away.

Mom: When the wind blows, your hair looks like a Riggety…no, Ruggerty…wait a minute, that’s not right either. Shit! A Raggy May.

Then she nods her head once and gives me the look.

Me: Do you mean Raggedy Anne?

Mom: No one makes words right anymore. It’s hard to keep up.

Me: Hmmmmmm…

Mom: Yup…

Me: More coffee?

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About hereisakiss

Daughter Writer Art's Educator
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6 Responses to Conversations with Mom

  1. Judy Weinstein says:

    I know I shouldn’t laugh, but it’s coming too close to home. I spent this Sunday with my mother because her kitchen, bathrooms and hallways were nearly dark due to burned out lightbulbs. She’s embarrassed about the practically unnavigable rooms and won’t even let someone come from the senior center to change bulbs. After 90 minutes of reviewing the bulbs in just five rooms and two hallways, I convinced her that we should consider those new-fangled compact fluorescent bulbs so she would never have to change a bulb again. Brought her to home depot, a trip that would have taken me five minutes but took us nearly 40 minutes. Then we got home and I had every bulb changed in under fifteen minutes [those old ceiling fixtures from 1959 are something else]. Then it took her 20 minutes to label the packaging so she would know which bulbs went where [even though she will never have to change them].
    I deserve an award. As do you for the eggs… xoxo
    P.S. What is vascular dementia?

    • hereisakiss says:

      Vascular dementia is one type of dementia (there are several, Alzheimer’s being the most common) caused by limited blood flow to the brain (blocked or narrowed arteries, severely low blood pressure, etc). This may cause memory loss, lack of social judgment, changes in personality, even a shuffled gait.

      My mother suffered her first brain aneurysm (a bulging, weak area in the wall of an artery that supplies blood to the brain) about 30 years ago. Post surgery/rehab, we noticed changes in her personality, but nothing significant. In 1996, when she was 69 years old, she had another brain aneurysm and this time, she became a different person.

      Last summer, she seemed to take another turn. Tasks she’d been able to do on her own were becoming confusing. She could no longer manage her nebulizer (breathing treatment, twice a day) without supervision. Figuring out how to dress herself was a puzzle, even putting in her own hearing aids became difficult. Things she had no problem with a day before (symptoms may begin that suddenly), became monumental.

      I hoped it was a urinary tract infection which may cause similar issues with the elderly. It was not a UTI, so we brought her to see a gerontology specialist (Dr. Harry Morgan in Glastonbury…wonderful doctor and caring staff). He eventually diagnosed vascular dementia and put her on Namenda to help improve her mental function and on Lexipro for depression. Up until this point (believe it or not) she was basically only taking vitamins and Boniva.

      Treatment may slow the progression of dementia. And though she still requires supervision (she has no concept of safe behavior) and is as snarky as ever, she has responded well to the medications…except perhaps where breakfast is concerned.

  2. Laura says:

    . . . oh yes this is hilarous in a macabre sort of way and I also deeply understand it. I am trying to deal with “potty talk” from Dad and it is too vulgar to write what he says . . . or is it? You get the idea.

    • hereisakiss says:

      I absolutely get the idea. In addition to the potty talk, it’s the things she says without consideration of how it might hurt someone’s feelings. We try to keep her condition/health in mind, but there are times when she wounds deeply…in ways she never would have in the past. We try to laugh it off (since talking to her about it doesn’t work), but sometimes a good cry is all that helps.

  3. Gary Glazner says:

    Thanks Elizabeth! I have posted info about your blog to the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project facebook group.

    • hereisakiss says:

      Thanks, Gary! Hope you and your program are doing well. I’m doing a poetry writing workshop next week at the senior care center that my mother attends in Glastonbury, CT. I’ll let you know how it goes…Elizabeth

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