Early Thanksgiving

My mother’s been calling more than usual. This morning she set aside her chirpy voice as she told me about another memory lapse, this time on the way to the Honda dealership. She’d started off in the right direction and then forgotten exactly where the dealership was located.

I’m thankful that she knew enough to turn around, go home, and call me. I tried to ease her anxiety by reminding her that she hadn’t taken the car to the dealership in years. Really, why would she remember that the dealership is located on the other side of the freeway?

Last week, I drove her to her CAT scan appointment. She hesitated with pen poised over the intake questionaire, her hand wavering as if she didn’t know how to fill in the blanks. She handed it over to me, and I walked her through the form. She couldn’t remember when she had her breast cancer lumpectomy, so I left a question mark.

I’m thankful her CAT scan returned normal for an 80-year-old woman. Whatever that means. Is there a bell curve for age-related brain atrophy?

After the CAT scan we went grocery shopping. She’d lost her appetite because of anxiety. In less than a week she gone from frail to barely there. “I go to the grocery store and just don’t know what to buy,” she said. So I walked the aisles with her. She forgot where to find the yogurt.

I’m thankful that with her usual depression-child obsessiveness, she nickeled and dimed every item she put in her grocery cart. For once, I wasn’t annoyed.

I’m also thankful that my mother doesn’t insist that she’s fine. She knows her mind is faltering. She can’t hide the desperation from her voice when she talks about it, which saddens me to no end. And scares me. But I’m glad she’s talking about it.

Most of all, I’m thankful for her sense of humor. On the way home from the grocery store, Mom mentioned a show she likes, “The Ghost Whisperer,” which is now rerunning over and over in syndication. “I think I’ve seen all the episodes,” she said. Pause. She laughed. “Well, with this short-term memory loss, I guess I’ll always enjoy them, won’t I?”

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