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26 March 2014
My mother hasn't asked me in several weeks whether or not I think she's going to live to be "a hunnert" but today that was all she was worried about. That and the "old plants" that Niece decided to dump on her because she (Niecie) didn't want them and figured she could just give them to Aunt Chubby. The story of THAT, now, is that the plants died the night after Niecie brought them to her. Can't remember how many times I heard that story today.
But it was definitely overshadowed by the "hunnert" discussion. (She has finally decided that living to hunnert would be kind of nice.)
I'm always trying to find things that might interest her that I can tell her, because there is nothing interesting that I am doing most days and nothing interesting that she is doing any day, so this morning I had watched an episode of "Extraordinary Women," the story of Audrey Hepburn, who was truly an amazing lady.
I figured my mother would remember who she was, and she did, so I gave her a capsule summary of Hepburn's life, growing up in Holland under Nazi domination, unable to become a ballerina, her dream, because starvation had changed her body and she no longer had the body of a dancer, to getting cast in Roman Holiday, her first picture for which she won an Oscar, to her quitting show business to concentrate on helping the starving children in countries like Bangladesh, Somalia and other countries, and the sadness of her getting cancer and dying within a year after her diagnosis.
I finished my story, she looked at me and said "do you think I'm going to live to be a hunnert?" (which is always followed by "why am I still alive?" and "why did all my siblings go off and leave me?" I can't relate to the last question, since my sister hasn't been around for nearly 45 years, so it never occurs to me to wonder why I'm alone.)
Today I chose a different tool to help myself respond to her endlessly repeating questions. I remembered her mother's last days. I've described her before as the gentlest, sweetest woman who never said so much as "damn" in her life, but she was kicked out of a nursing home for cursing like a sailor (apologizes to sailors), and tripping people walking down the hallways with their canes.
So they had to move her to the mental hospital at Napa and my mother has talked many, many times about how frustrating it was to visit her because she suffered from aphasia (a term my mother doesn't know but only says she would try to talk with her mother and all her mother could say was blah-blah-blah-blah). My mother would stay with her as long as she could and eventually her mother would ask to go back into the building and my mother would return home so frustrated that she couldn't get through to her.
Every time she asked me if she was going to live to hunnert today, I told myself how grateful I am that she could ask me that question and that I could understand her. I also remembered her sister, my Aunt Barb who, before she died, could not recognize any of her children. The last person she recognized was my mother and the day she lost that recognition was the last time my mother visited her.
So I'm lucky. She knows me. She can speak and be understood. And if she doesn't realize she has asked the same question a dozen times already, that's better than my having to leave without the two of us sharing anything at all.
Atria gave her a form that her doctor has to fill out at her annual
exam. I'm amazed at how docilly she has accepted that. I've been trying to get
her to the doctor for several minor things that have come up but she digs in her heels and
says absolutely positively she is NOT going to the doctor. But today I told her I
would make an appointment and all she said was "OK." So she will finally
get to meet her doctor...and maybe, just maybe this doctor will do a
mental assessment more comprehensive than asking her if she knows what day of the week it
is when she wakes up in the morning, which is all the last doctor (a gerontologist) did!
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