eat, mama, eat

My sister called last evening while I was making Calvin’s dinner, as she does most every Sunday when she’s with my mom. She’d picked up Mom from Bayview, the Alzheimer’s unit where she spends her Sunday mornings so that my brother and his wife, who she lives with, have some time to themselves. The two of them were driving to the zoo so Caron put Mom on the phone.

“Hi mom, it’s Christy,” I began.
“Oh, hi. Where are you and what’re you up to?” She asked, in an unusually subdued tone.
“I’m in Maine, Mom. How are you doing? I asked.

Her words were garbled, her tone annoyed, and at one point she told me that she couldn’t hear anything. “You can’t hear me?” I asked. “That’s correct,” she replied. I had to chuckle.

The sour quality to her voice was one that I almost never hear. I asked her how she was doing again and she said, “Just so-so.” I asked what she was doing and she replied nastily, “I don’t know what the hell’s going on around here.” I reminded her that Caron was taking her to the zoo.

“Don’t you like the zoo, Mom?” I asked
“No.” I could sense the scowl on her face.

With the phone in the crook of my neck I continued to try to cheer her up. Michael looked at me curiously, noticing that something was wrong.

“Well at least you’ll have fun with Caron, right?” I added. Mom mumbled something like, “Yeah, maybe.” And when I mentioned they’d be taking her out to dinner or back to their condo to eat, she scoffed, “I doubt it.”

The rest of our conversation she peppered with statements like, “I don’t give a damn ... I don’t know who the hell that is ... who cares,” and, when I asked her how her knees felt, she spat, “Oh, they’re miserable!” which is so unlike her to say, even when they’re hurting. Then she added, “At least I’m not dead.” At the end of the bruising conversation when we said our goodbyes, I told her that I loved her and—for the first time ever—she didn’t say it back.

Caron got back on the phone to say she hadn’t heard Mom sound quite like that before. We were worried, Mom having always been such a vivacious, upbeat spirit. I mentioned the Alzheimer’s study we’d read about where one group of patients watches a sad movie and the other group a happy one. Afterwards, neither group remembers having watched the films but the feelings they elicited linger. “I wonder what might’ve happened earlier today?” I questioned. We were both perplexed.

Later, Caron called me back. She said she’d asked Mom what she wanted to do and Mom had answered, “Eat.” So the two of them drove back to her condo where her husband gave Mom an extra big hug while Caron began making her a sandwich. After eating the snack Mom piped up in a chipper voice, “I think I was just hungry.” Then Caron asked her if she’d like to go to the zoo or to the park. “Either one or both!” Mom replied in her usual optimistic, bubbly form, and then added, “I think I was just hungry.”

Mom and my sis

1 comment:

  1. what a beautiful picture. thank you for sharing your family with me.