My mother of 87 has dementia. Her memory has vanished and as the brain deteriorates the conversation becomes more disjointed. She is in an amused and out of reasoning state so that every sentence of hers becomes a question, always repeated and whatever the answer, back comes another question.
What day is it, have you gone to, what is your name, oh shut up and so on it goes. Everything to her is ‘Stupe-id’ and the insistence that her husband is still in the house. Well he is but sometimes escapes.
Where has she gone? The truth is that she went some time ago and we are left with a shell, a mother-figure who is happy to sit all day on the sofa looking through society magazines and eating chocolate biscuits, the majority of which are fed to the rapidly expanding dachshund.
The conversation I would like concerns two areas that I just want to know about. What happened so that my sister has never forgiven her for leaving us and not wanting any custody of her children and the other why she damaged my father’s career and left him distraught in Cyprus where we were living. Maybe I know the answer but don’t want to really know the reasons.
And there is the dilemma: as I was once told that past marital issues of my parents were none of my business, so I think on reflection that is how I must and will leave it.
I am happy now with her thinking my name is Nigel, the dog belongs to me, that when I go to church that is full of Stupe-id people and that she hates the Queen, Churchill and anyone that wears hats.
I am happy to discuss cheese, small snippets from the past and hear her shout at me when I ask if she will ever cut her hair. Maybe I will call her Rapunzel, I understand she says she doesn’t love me, but I will always love her.
My mother the debutante, heart-breaker, home-wrecker, terrible dog parent, not a cook ever and not warm at all. I forgive all that as she comes into the room as she tells me she is buying a house to go, leave her husband and by the way where is the thing that she went in once, was it a car or a dog-bed!
Keep talking Mum, we love you.