Monday, 19 May 2008

table manners

Mum’s looking at me with an inscrutable expression. It’s quite unnerving. Every time I look up from my plate she’s staring at me.

After a few minutes of yes/no conversation, we’ve lapsed into silence and I’m (as usual) worrying what it means and (as usual) concluding that she’s upset and unhappy with me over her change of circumstances. I hold her look for a second and it feels awkward. I pull a face. After a few heartbeats she raises her eyebrows slightly. A minute later we’re doing it again.

“I’m wondering…..whatever happened to that gorgeous little boy I brought up.” she says, eventually.

After a stunned moment, I realise that this isn’t a snide remark. I think she really is having a little trouble recognising me as Greg.

Mum’s worrying me this week. She’s very frail and uncertain, hesitating over her knife and fork, looking to me for cues, reaching for her glass when I take a drink from mine. She seems nervous and out of her depth. How much longer will I be able to take her out to restaurants like this?

Getting up to go, she needs one hand on my arm and the other holding her stick. She does a sort of stationary jig before we set off, like she needs to wobble her legs into motion.


Matt said...

Aww, Greg ... I don't know what to say. I'm glad she remembers her gorgeous little boy. It sounds like she still knows it's you, but is confused and a little scared. No matter how hard it is for you, it's beautiful that you're still there with her.

Why do I always have this urge to give you a big hug when I read your posts?

Greg said...

Do you hear me complaining about the hugs?

This the first time I've found any evidence of Mum 'time travelling' with the dementia, living in her older memories rather than more recent ones. She's not normally given to reminiscing that much and I've found that odd.

It was pretty scary being scrutinised like that with such a blank unreadable expression on her face. It reminded me of a study I'd read long ago of some stills from Hitchcock's "Rear Window", which showed that the same blank expression on James Stewart's face was read by audience members as portraying any number of emotions depending on the scene that had just preceded it. As my default setting is one of guilt, I naturally took Mum's odd expression to be one of accusation.

I sometimes wonder whether this blog is more about my mental state than hers...

Sorata said...

Well, the blog is definitely about both you and your mum's mental state. It's a chronological of your relationship with her, so it would be odd if you show no emotions towards any of this. Unless you want to be a Vulcan, you're perfectly normal, Greg.

Btw, when did you change the tagline of your blog? Am I that bad of a blog-reader that I didn't notice the change long time ago, or it's just a recent thing?

HUGGING-FEST AGAIN!!!!! *big bear hugs*

Greg said...

I used to want to be a Vulcan. I'd be very annoyed with myself if I acted illogically. Nowadays I'm just glad if I can get through the day without trying to brush my teeth with my razor.

The tagline? Oh, a few weeks ago, I think. I was in the mood for something shorter. That's what I do all the time, edit stuff down. It's a wonder each post doesn't end up as Haiku.

The Sun sets later each day
His Mother sleeping
The Bear is hugged by gay men

G x

LSL said...

Heavens, I love the poem. :)

This is a very touching post. I feel some despair when I read it - just thinking about going to see my family and facing that they are getting older and, in ways, further away from me, too. When I read about your mum, I always think how difficult it must be for you on so many levels. And then I'm glad you're writing about it, hoping it helps in some small way.

LSL said...

I almost forgot . . . "pull a face" - it means what? :)

Greg said...

I'm so embarrassed by that haiku. I really should consider my comments as much as I do my posts!

Maybe I should have said "made a face"? I was trying to break Mum's stare by making a silly face.

Yes, it's difficult for me as I watch Mum disappear before my eyes, as I try and be a good person, as I try and be as honest as I can about whether I'm doing the right things for her. My emotions are, frankly, a mystery to me these days - I have to sit and think hard to understand what exactly I'm feeling. Maybe all the years of anti-depressants have dulled my sensitivity, but I really have to work at it and sometimes the emotions I unwrap surprise me.

Yes, this helps me a great deal. It helps me work out what's going on, what really matters about what I've seen. It helps me deal with the pain through recording it. Somehow describing it as well as I can takes away a lot of the sting.

And the generous comments I get are very very much appreciated. Hugs to you all xx

Tilly said...

It's so strange, this sensation of being there and not there, in our mother's worlds. I am simultaneously Mum's daughter/sister/mother - and she often asks me where I am. Just as your mother asks where her gorgeous little boy is, apparently not realising that her GLB is now a GBB and a loving and devoted son.

Maybe we really do exist in parallel worlds so that for your Mum, there are lots of Gregs and all of you are real and current to her. Like Fantasia and the brooms and buckets, we have the uncanny (and alarming!) ability to multiply. That's today. Tomorrow might be different.

It sounds flip - and you're so right -it stings. That's exactly how it feels. But if dementia strips people back to the core - what comes shining through for the rest of us, is how much your Mum loves you. Really, really loves you.

As for table manners..if your Mum isn't unnerved by the excursions, you go. By trial and error, I've found a couple of local places where people are kind and gentle. They don't look askance if Mum eats with her fingers, doesn't eat at all, or if I feed her. They make her feel welcome - and her flirtations with the waiters/barman are all taken in good spirit. As long as no-one is pointing or laughing and Mum doesn't offend anyone - I'm cool, as the boys say. Hang in there Greg. Your blog is a triumph of what love is really about. Tilly x

Sorata said...

Hey! Where's the other post that was there last week! I didn't have time to read it but I knew it was there... now it's gone! Vanished! Pfft!

What happened?

Greg said...

Sorry folks, I deleted a couple of posts because they just didn't seem that interesting. I'm a bit mentally dull at the moment - I need a holiday desperately. I'm so exhausted that I can't think where to go!