Too Tired To Come Up With A Title

Got talking with the other members of my support group. The general consensus is that caretaking is lonely business. Despite assurances from family, they often aren’t available. Some of their excuses are legitimate, but sometimes it’s obviously bullshit. Too often it feels to the caretaker like “I have better things to do.” Some hear “I don’t want to see him/her like this; I want to remember them as they were.” A personal favorite is “He/She doesn’t remember me anymore, so what’s the point?” <snort> This isn’t about YOU, dip-shit. It’s about THEM. And YOU ought to remember who THEY are because, honestly, there’s no telling what an Alzheimer’s patient knows inside the privacy of their head. They may very well know you, but not be able to say your name because their brain won’t let the right sounds come out on command.

My mother astonishes the staff at the nursing home with surprising regularity. Just at the moment when they believe that all memories are gone, she’ll rally and deliver. The other day they were bringing her out of lunch, three-quarters asleep in her chair, and someone said, “Ginny, Cory is here.” Without opening her eyes, my mother responded clearly, “The dog?” (This is the Hospice dog/owner team who visits her weekly.) No reason why her ravaged brain would deliver that up, but it did.

The past few visits have been particularly painful. What little conversation she’s been capable of  has been gibberish that clearly makes sense to her, but means nothing to me. She spends most of the time with her eyes closed and complains of being tired all the time. She has not known me for some while and, in fact, was quite astonished when I told her she was my mother. “You’re joking!” she said.

And yet.

Today, she was wide awake when I arrived. She still did not seem to know me and appeared disinclined for much of a visit. I took her into the lounge anyway, just for a few minutes. We talked a bit, I got her a pillow so she could rest her head back and sleep if she chose. Our little bits of conversation were mostly nonsensical. I wept.

When it came time to leave, I pushed her wheelchair back out near the nurses station. As I bent down to give her a kiss, she said, “I’m going home tonight.” Does she know how much I pray that is so? I replied, “Well, when you get there, tell everyone I said hello.” She said she would. I turned to leave and had taken two steps when she very clearly said, “I love you very much.” Needless to say, I turned right back around and gave her a long, long hug.  “I love you, too, Mom.”

I love you, too.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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3 Responses to Too Tired To Come Up With A Title

  1. Gene says:

    I love you too, Sis! She never said that before? Prayers

  2. Barbara Davis-Dickman says:

    I don’t know how they remember snippets of things, or how they periodically remember who we are either but you’re right…they do…and sometimes they are trying to tell us something but we can’t understand what they mean. A few days before my aunt died, I went to visit her. She sat in her chair at dinner…all 80 pounds of her…and kept saying “Neil” or “kneel”?…wasn’t sure. I had no idea what she was trying to tell me but it was pretty clear she was trying to tell me something. At her funeral the next week, one of her lifelong friends-Rita Nealon-told me that she had gone to see her the same day. She was trying to tell me that she saw Rita Nealon. It made perfect sense. I just wished I had known so I could let her know I understood, as she seemed frustrated and repeated this word over and over.
    My mom also would, on one visit ask if I was her mother and a moment or two later realize that it was the other way around…or would sit in her chair, almost completely unaware of what was going on, and then suddenly ask my sister if she had been going to church. My sister, when this happened told her..”I thought we’d lost you for a minute, Mom, but I see you’re still there!”
    I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to take other people’s lack of support too hard. People are terrified of this disease and, having seen what it does to people, I can kind of understand. It does make it harder to cope, though. So many of us are out here, at least virtually, to offer what support we can. And she does love you very much.

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