I Hate When You Tell Me That

Source of photo: parade.com

I loved being a Mom. I loved the never-ending ‘why’ questions. I loved the snuggles; the bedtime stories; even the tantrums. Because I truly felt I was playing a role in helping my kids become whoever they were meant to be. My kids are all grown up now and while I do love getting to know the amazing people they are becoming, I do miss those days of being… well, their everything.

We have been so blessed when it comes to Mom’s dementia, which has progressed very slowly. Six years since she was first diagnosed, she is still very much in the room; we can still have lovely chats on the phone; she still asks about her grandkids; she still knows who we are.

On the other hand, my sister and I have found ourselves in the surprising position of being parents again. Mom doesn’t always ‘get’ the social cues anymore. She asks our advice regarding what to say and what not to say. What’s more, what she remembers and what she forgets is hit-and-miss. Sometimes she holds onto something like a dog with a bone (“But, what did you do with my lace doily: you know, the one my Aunt so-and-so made, that was in the bottom drawer of my bedroom?”). Other times, she might ask you the same question over and over in the span of ten minutes.

My sister, who has a memory like a steel trap, finds the repetitive questions soul-crushingly depressing. I – who have always struggled to stay in the conversation while my mind prefers to wander in and out of the room – don’t mind the repetitions nearly as much. My memory has always been poor (one of the reasons I like to write). I’ve either forgotten the details or I wasn’t really in the room to hear them the first time around anyway.

Recently, Mom began to tell my sister a story to which my sister, hoping to cut her off at the pass, quickly replied, “That’s okay, Mom. You already told me that.”

“Oh, I hate when people say that to me!” cried Mom in frustration.

She is aware that she is forgetting things. She hates when a thought she was in the middle of expressing just suddenly disappears (“It’s like having all your words on pieces of paper in front of your eyes and then someone blows on them.” she once very eloquently explained to me.)

That day, my sister and I made the decision never to say ‘you already told me that’ to our Mom. We make a great number of decisions like that together now. Coparenting Mom has brought us closer than either of us could ever have imagined. Because my sister finds the repetition far more frustrating than I do, we have also agreed that whenever possible, I will be the recipient of the questions and the stories. My role, when I’m with Mom, is to listen. My sister takes on the more physical tasks, like helping Mom reorganise her closet; going for walks; going to recreation activities together, or doing a puzzle.

I am a parent again. And my Mom is endearingly childlike; sweetly dependent; ever in awe of her two daughters who ‘take such good care of her’ (“Your Dad would be so proud of both of you,” she often tells us).

We have become her ‘everything’.

Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

6 thoughts on “I Hate When You Tell Me That”

  1. My mother became my dad’s everything when he got Alzheimer’s Disease. He could have a conversation, even up to the end, but it might be the same conversation as ten minutes before.

    I have nothing but respect for what you are doing, Patti. Not an easy job…

    Liked by 1 person

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