UPDATE | Mom’s Dementia

mom_birthday“I swear, my memory lasts two seconds,” Mom said, leaning forward with a big smile.

We sat at her favorite restaurant, Ruby Tuesday’s. Her days of fine dining with my restaurateur dad are long gone. She’s comfortable at this chain restaurant. She never gets tired of it. As she says, “I haven’t eaten at Ruby Tuesday’s in ages,” even if it has only been two weeks since our last dinner out.

Since my last blog post about Mom, she quickly went down hill. We went through a hellish year in which she kept getting lost while driving and kept giving her social security and credit card numbers to shysters. We kept believing her when she said she had a grip on things, that this time she would remember not to answer the phone when strangers called and not to drive anywhere that wasn’t inside her safety zone.

Finally, we had to accept reality, and she had to accept our intervention. She no longer drives or manages her own money. We hired a caretaker to come around during the day. My sister buys her groceries, and I take her to her doctor’s appointments.

The thing about it is, she’s lost so much memory that she’s no longer anxious about it. This is a relief, in a way, but it’s also heartbreaking. She used to rail against her condition. Now she doesn’t seem to care much.

Last night I arrived at her house to search for memorabilia from my dad’s restaurateur days. I was asked to write a guest blog for the fantastic Jungle Red Writers blog. (If you read crime fiction, you’ve got to check it out!) I was honored, and I also panicked because I needed my dad’s famous coffee toffee pie recipe for the blog post. Of course, my mom couldn’t remember where the memorabilia was stored–or even what I was talking about. And I couldn’t find it. Which meant she might have thrown it out, not remembering its significance to us daughters.

I could feel myself freezing up like I do when I’m upset and frustrated. But I couldn’t bitch at Mom. How could I? I gave up the hunt, and we went to Ruby Tuesday’s. I re-explained the importance of the memorabilia, especially the recipe. She blinked, apparently startled. “Oh, we should find that stuff for you.”

“Yes, Mom, I already looked, and I couldn’t find it. Don’t worry, I’ll ask Nicole. She probably has it.” (Crossing my fingers…)

Mom’s gaze clouded over. Now befuddled, she turned the menu over and back. “What do I want to eat?”

She’d decided on the shrimp parmesan pasta not two minutes previously. I reminded her. She said, “I swear, my memory lasts two seconds.”

As always, she beamed as she said it. As always, she went on to joke that her crappy memory sure comes in handy when she’s watching Law & Order reruns.


P.S. My sister, Nicole, who lives in California, scanned everything I need to write the Jungle Reds guest post. Whew! Look for it this Sunday.

6 comments on “UPDATE | Mom’s Dementia

  • It’s so sad when a loved one gets to this point. All you really can do is be with them, remember them as they were, and love them even after they are gone (especially if this is a metaphoric gone before a physical one). I wish you much strength and patience.

  • Elva Adams says:

    Your mother is a beauty. Now I see where you get your looks! My heart goes out to you and your sister. We lost our mom in January 2001. My mom’s memory was shot, but she still wanted to live alone. Thank God she didn’t drive. She passed in her sleep. I prayed hard for that. Enjoy whatever time you have with your mom. Love, Elva


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