more momisms

I talk with my mom a couple of times a week. Recently, I rang her for her birthday on a conference call with my sister, Caron. At first we talked on top of each other, awkwardly navigating the three-way conversation, but eventually slipped into a comfortable groove as if we were all in the same room.

Caron and I sang Happy Birthday to her, as poorly as we could manage just for giggles. There seemed to be an echo on the line. “Mom, were you singing too?” I asked. “Sure!” she peeped, and the three of us laughed. Then we quizzed mom about her new age:

“So, how old are you now, Mom?” we asked, and she thought for a long while.

“Eighty?” she replied, without much confidence (at times she’s answered, “twelve?”)

“Plus two. What’s eighty plus two, Mom?” my sister nudged.

“Um, eighty-three-seventy?”

“Nope, you’re eighty-two,” my sister and I both told her.

“Now how’d I happen to do that?”

We all broke out into warm laughter again.

I thought back to the time when Mom was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, first started understanding her bleak future of forgetting words, forgetting names, forgetting faces, forgetting everything. “I have a chemist friend,” she’d solemnly announce, with a bitter hint of anger at the world—perhaps at god. She wanted us to know she had a connection to some lethal drugs that she’d use to off herself if she got to a stage where she didn’t want to be anymore. “And I want a Viking funeral,” she’d add, which meant we’d have to figure out how to shove her off in a flaming boat.

Now she’s at the point where names escape her, faces too, but she’s never reached the dreaded stage—or perhaps simply rolled on past it—where she’d want to end it once and for all. My mom seems as happy, healthy, and gregarious as she ever was, and though she’s got a shattered memory she doesn’t appear to be too worried about it. She lives life in the moment, which is something I always aspire to do, something Calvin teaches me to do, never knowing what curveballs life might throw us in the future—even tomorrow—something I've learned since Calvin was born and especially since he started having seizures.

At the end of our conversation I asked Mom how her arthritic knees were. “Uh, they’re still there,” she chirped, somehow aware of her amusing charm to which we always chuckle, and then the three of us exchanged our usual I love yous before we hung it all up.

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me, my mom and my sister

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