Thursday, 26 June 2008


Phone conversations with Mum are increasingly bringing to mind the Turing test.

Her conversation is plausible on the surface, but after a few exchanges I'm aware that Mum's responses are generic fragments of her former speech, crusts of old sentences tossed into the mix, comments that would imply credibility were it not so easy to spot the prompts in my news that have triggered each facsimile phrase. There are so few of them that it's easy to anticipate what's coming up next.

There is no familial nourishment in these conversations, no sense that I am communicating with another soul. Her larder is quickly emptied of stock expressions and Mum ends the call or suggests that I talk to a member of staff. It's almost as if Mum is conscious that she's taking a test and wants to keep it short to avoid exposure. I'm left feeling that I've missed a connection.


LSL said...

It sounds painful, Greg. I'm sorry. Keep writing, buddy.

A Single Man said...

I just stumbled across you blog and I wanted to say that I'm sorry you're experiencing the loss of you mum bit by bit.

I'm in a different circumstance, but I'm losing someone I love bit by bit from dementia as well.

It's hard when we want someone to be there and they only are in small pieces from time to time.

Hang in there. You're love for you mum is strong and if she could, she'd tell you how much she loves you and appreciates you and your help.

Greg said...

I've spent the last 20 minutes reading as much of your blog as I can take in one sitting. I'm stunned and impressed by your honesty about your thoughts and emotions.

I try and imagine what it would be like if I was still with my first partner and he'd been sick the last 10 years, but it's hard to get past my wish that I had experienced a relationship that long, as naive as that sounds in light of your experience. Thank you for your comments.

Oh, Mum does indeed tell me that she loves me, but I squirm and don't respond because all I feel, for my part, is a sense of duty. I get a small satisfaction from playing this role well, the good Son, but it's a role fuelled by guilt at not being the genuine article. And then there's the resentment I feel that I can't do what I want to do while she still needs me - I can't travel and see more of the world, something that I know in my soul is what my body and mind really need now. I need to get away, to meet new people and learn new ways of living life. I feel time slipping through my fingers, opportunities passing as the years go by. It already feels too late. I imagine that this is making sense to you.

[Sorry, everyone else, if this is shocking to read. I told you I felt awkward whenever you praised me.]

I've made a link to your blog in the side bar - I hope that's alright?


Matt said...

Greg, I know you've probably mentioned this in bits and pieces in other posts - but I'm curious, how does your Mom respond if you show her old photo albums and describe to her what you're showing her? Is there recognition at all? Any feeling of happiness?

I'm sorry, this may be a bad question ... you go through so much, and I have no way of knowing how horrible this is for you. As always, my silly comment ends with a big, long, warm hug from me.

Greg said...

Hey Matt. Feeling the hug. No, that's a good question and a good idea. I recently cleared Mum's flat and now have all the albums at my house, so it's something I could do soon. My guess is that she'll recognise some pictures and miss the significance of others. She does occasionally reminisce about her childhood and early marriage, and she seems a bit stunned that I'm no longer a toddler, so I think she's finally conforming to the accepted model and favouring the earlier memories over the more recent.

Hugs back to you and Scott. G x

Sorata said...

I don't know what can I add after reading everyone else's comments and advices, but I still wanted to give you a shout and let you know what a silly man you are. :D

You wouldn't be human if you don't feel you're being tied down a bit and I am glad you shared with us with your "resentments". It's already difficult enough for you with the situation, at least you can rant on the blog and let some of the tension off your chest. You'll always be my "#1 Son" role model.

Keep your chin up! *hugz*