Mum's talking about the Bear I bought her for her Birthday 6 weeks ago.
We are the stories we tell ourselves. Mum is recycling herself.
It's slow work. There are pauses of over a minute in the middle of sentences where she scans the remote horizon. Sometimes she frowns, sometimes she chuckles, sometimes her expression is quite blank. On a couple of occasions I am just about to break the silence myself when she resumes.
"Do you know, I was on this train travelling to......London. And these older girls......... they pushed me off it....?"
This happened just recently, she tells me.
"And I was in hospital.......and I came around and I said to the Doctor 'they licked me' and he was very surprised...."
Mum's family moved to the UK from Cambridge, Massachusetts, when she was around 10. The "licked/hit" confusion story has been a family anecdote all my life, but I've never heard the origin of the injury before. There may be some truth in this.
However, as the morning progresses into the afternoon, it turns out that each of several different stories Mum is telling ends with the same incident, the hospital confusion over the word "lick". Gradually, Mum begins to get the punchline wrong, until it's only the words "lick" and "Doctor" that indicate she's telling the same tale.
Mum's pauses in speaking seem beyond rumination, they are like a re-buffering, a re-spooling of some tape within her head before she can go on. They remind me most strongly of the way she's been walking for months now: several steps followed by a pause where it seems she cannot recall how to make a step at all. I'm beginning to recognise it as a signature in Mum's dementia.