Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Trip

This isn't about The Trip. But you should watch The Trip because The Trip is awesome.

On with my trip.

We're away for a few days and back "home" for a visit. "Home" being the old home town even though my time in Canberra is nearly that in duration as to what it was back "home".

It's the first time I've been back since my mum went into permanent care. Last night was the first time I'd seen her in her new digs.

Her room is nice. It has large windows with a view over a paddock out the back (though it was night and I was told of it). She has a couple of items from home, but not that many as yet. She has her quilt she made of reclaimed squares of cloth carefully selected from her rag bag as her covering for her bed. She looks great, too. She has short, straight hair. The same hair she had that I've seen in fade-toned polaroids from the '70s of her standing there, curvy figured, in a one-piece mini-dress of the period. A smile on her face, Jackie O glasses perched in her hair.

She knew who I was. though I said who I was just in case. She remembered enough about me to follow a conversation for a little spell. But her brain tries to fill in the gaps if she falters ... or almost resets if she sees us if the conversation lapses. She returns to default modes of experience. If she sees my dad at night and sees she's in a hospital-like room she just assumes he's visiting on the way to church ('so you are going to church then?' was said every two to three minutes.). Or she fills in the gaps with other things. Like she's convinced she was just in town and had seen various people, or that her bed control works on the TV. Sometimes she also drifts into the deep past and talks of people from the '50s as if they'd just been and gone.

But what gets me is her general nature is still there. When she thinks dad is going to church and sees he's watching TV she offers to tape the rest of the show for him. Tells him to take a jumper ('Oh it will be so cold!'). She offers her food or drink ('Here, I can't finish this. Would you like it?'). She's genuinely outraged if you tell her something outrageous ('Oh Michael!') and she laughs with much mirth.

It could all be so much worse. There's dementia-afflicted people that are frightened, agitated. They don't know what's happening and they panic. My mother just kind of drifts along like a feather in the breeze. Stopping for a spell here and there before the wind carries her away again.

I don't know what the hereditary component is, causation-wise. Though I confess the fact that three generations of her side of the family have gone 'doolally' as she calls it (I didn't know my great grandmother had it as well until last night) makes me a tad concerned for my own noggin'. My brain is the one thing I have that almost works properly.

But then when I worry about that status of brain maintenance and care thirty years hence I just remember one thing.


The future rules (1)

(1) I passed the dining room on the way in. It was like The Retirement Castle from The Simpsons. Only much more real.


  1. I'm glad that she seems to have settled in well. You're right, some people with dementia get frightened. My grandfather got violent, and my grandmother got rude. It sounds like your mum is doing it with much more grace. (I worry about the hereditary thing too.)

    Nanobots ftw!

  2. Yeah. It's almost a joyful thing to see. She has nothing to gain from being nice since she has no need to ingratiate. And she just does it.

    She's pretty kewl.


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