Sunday, 12 April 2009

closing the closet door again

"Oh, don't you look handsome with a beard!" says Mum, as I enter her room.

I've been bearded for 2 and a half years now, and Mum wasn't so complimentary back in 2006. This is just one of those plausible comments that Mum makes which disguise her lack of any true memory.

I hand her a large Easter Egg and notice fresh flowers in the room. She tells me that she has no idea where they came from. After a few exchanges, we fall into a conversation about the telephone and how she's just not using it (I haven't seen any billed calls for a good 10 months now). I ask her if there's anyone she'd like me to ring and I'm unsurprised to hear her nominate her Cousin. I dial the number and get through and am astonished to hear that the Cousin visited Mum only last week (so that's where the flowers came from). It's really great to hear that another family member has visited Mum. Before I hand over the phone I get to hear all about how well Mum looked and how lovely the building and facilities are.

After the call, Mum announces that she'd really like a boyfriend, though she's unsure that a suitable candidate is going to turn up any time soon. I tell her that I feel exactly the same way, and she stuns me by asking me 4 times in the next 10 minutes if I've met a nice girl recently. I'm trying not to correct her these days but just work with her reality, so I find myself making the sort of throw-away excuses I had to make to relatives all through my teens and twenties.


Sorata said...

Despite confusing your Mom, I don't think you want to come out again, can't imagine it being the most pleasant experience isn't it? I use to have a lot of those excuses (in fact, I still use it whenever I visit Hong Kong since none of my family other than my parents know that I'm gay) the one I like the most is "yes I'm dating, but I'm just reserved, you will meet someone when the time is right."

Happy Easter, little Greg :D

Greg said...

Oh I'm sure she'd just "remember" it if I corrected her. I was just a bit shocked that that particular subject had been forgotten, given the HUGE amount of trouble we went through the first time I told her back in the day and the way it shaped our lives for years.

Happy Easter to you and to Scott and Cleo :D

Greg said...

And I AM little Greg now, having lost over 20kg. It's a wonder she recognised me at ALL.

citygirl said...

Greg, your wit (sorry for the pun on your blog title) kills me!

So nice to find out that other relatives visit your mom. I never knew if anyone was visiting either (Mom wouldn't remember even if it was the same day) so I'd sneak peeks at the guest sign-in book at the front reception and was pleasantly surprised somedays.

Happy Belated Easter :) citygirl

Anonymous said...

Ah. The phone. I rigged up a phone for Mom with a programmed button so she could call me. It didn't really work too well until I got a permanent red marker and put concentric circles and a star burst pattern around the button. Then it worked.

When Mom got up in the middle of the night she would go outside her room and got upset when she couldn't find anyone! Where did everyone go??? It was spooky. So she'd call me at 3am. I'd tell her they were all asleep and she should go back to her room and back to sleep too.

That worked for several months until she started tearing the phone out of the wall so she could take it with her. A wireless phone would have been useless; the phone had to look like a recognizable phone from

I have this image of her roaming around the halls of the supported living place at 3am, carrying a desk phone with wires trailing from it.

Greg- thanks for your website. It helps me. And many congrats on your workout program! I'm impressed and inspired.

Greg said...

Happy Belated Easter to you, too, Citygirl!

Yes, Mum had NO recollection of the visit, didn't remember where the flowers came from, and didn't recall eating a chocolate egg that they'd brought. But I'm so glad that they visited - and without any prodding from me and without my having to go and fetch them and guide them there (even 70-year-olds are using SatNav these days!) I normally would want to know in advance so that I could arrange a hair appointment for Mum just prior to the visit, but apparently it was all good when they were there.

I'm so pleased because THIS is the relation that Mum feels closest to and I'm sure it meant so much to her at the time.

She just can't form new memories and I have to keep re-learning that lesson because at times she can seem so normal.

Greg said...

Hi Anonymous.

That's a haunting image of your Mom wandering with the desk phone. Yes, we had some problems with Mum calling people at 3am, too. The staff at the Home actually disconnect the phone every night now, just in case, but I know Mum can't even dial a number any more (I saw her final attempts on an itemised bill last year). I don't know why I didn't think about programming my phone number onto a single button, like you did (I really can be very stupid), but I no longer think Mum needs to lean on me so heavily. She's accepted the care of the staff there so well and there is someone on duty at every hour of the day and night for her to talk to if she is confused.

Once again, I'm very very humbled that my blog is of any help to you. Thank you so much for telling me that. It means a lot.

elanor said...

hi Greg,
love must be in the air at the moment! my mum is wanting to marry a nice man she has met at the nursing home, we're hoping she'll forget soon!

and the weight changes, well mum announced loudly in the dining room that she didn't recognise me straight away because I was so fat..

I decided not to let mum have a phone in her room, she just would be too confused by it.

Greg said...

Hi Elanor

It's breathtaking when our parents become blithely and outrageously rude, isn't it? These are the very people who corralled us into polite behaviour as we grew up and now they don't bat an eyelid as they say these things.

The phone was something I installed to give Mum a sense of normality on arrival. She only ever used it to call me, and then even that fell away. It's time for it to go and Mum didn't seem at all distressed by the proposition. I think she'll value the extra space on her dressing table to spread her stuff around.

Uh, the Love thing has me a little concerned. Mum had a nice friend in the Home early on, a gentle gushy Lady who seemed very taken with Mum, but then a Man moved in who independently decided that they were a couple and I've since watched this woman become silent and subservient - he keeps her by his side like a dog on a leash. She isn't free to sit with Mum any more, and she looks miserable. I would be very concerned to see Mum enter a relationship now, with all the risks of distress involved. I couldn't bear to see her troubled. I'm so lucky that she's been happy up until now.

I've just caught up on your news and I think Mum's similarly operating about age 11. I was discussing something about her last apartment recently and she fed the story back to me but with the name of her childhood home. That makes me think these urges to find romance are mostly of playground origin. I trust marriage isn't a real possibility when one isn't of sound mind, is it?

elanor said...

yes I think you're right about the age 11 playground type love, it seems a bit like that. all sweetness and puppy eyes! but no, marriage isn't a possibility.

citygirl said...

I started to comment about phone use and it became way too long...

Greg said...

What can I say? I'm an inspiration... :D