"hey mom, it's me."
"oh hi, honey! how are you?"
"i'm fine, mom. what's going on with you?"
"nothing? aren't you getting out and enjoying your new surroundings."
"sometimes. but, i have cornelius here and we talk."
now, cornelius is a stuffed monkey i bought mom for valentine's day probably 10 years ago. his significance in her life has grown greatly in the past couple years. it's as if he's become a link to me. she keeps him close by.
"what do you mean, you talk?"
"well, i tell cornelius things and he listens." she laughs as she tells me this.......
"as long as he doesn't answer back mom, i think you're safe," i laugh back......
"and your picture...the one tom did of you? i talk to you every day as well"
"i know mom. i'm glad having that picture helps."
"fine. you know....same thing, different day and client."
"do you have enough money."
and the conversation repeats.....starting with the information about cornelius. it's a repeating loop these days.....cornelius, me, that drawing tom did, my work, cornelius.......even when i interrupt her with other questions, she goes right back to her loop of conversation. it's difficult not to cry when i speak with her.....even more so when i get off the phone.
this last time.......
"mom, have you talked to kitty lately?"
"your sister. kitty."
"hmmm, i think so......."
mom and kitty are 18 months apart in age. they've always been close and are the last remaining siblings out of a family of 10. makes me sad for both of them that mom is forgetting kitty. mom's losing so much so fast. feelings of abandonment wash over me sometimes as we speak. i get so angry sometimes.......like this is somehow her idea. then i wish for a way to stop it and know i can't. i don't think there's ever been anything in my life that frustrates and hurts me as much as watching my mother disappear before my eyes, while her physical body remains strong.
when i spoke to gerry tonight i told him of my 10 minute repeating conversation with mom on sunday.
"yeah.....that's pretty much it for her these days. i can't even have much of a conversation when we're together. it's hard."
"i know, gerry. i'm sorry you're alone in this."
"i'm not. i know you two talk regularly. hope's here. i just can't seem to go see her as often. it just hurts too much."
thing is, mom's almost always laughing as she talks. she seems so happy, loves her "new place" in the alzheimer's unit. although, she doesn't have much use for the other residents. she told me once:
"they're so old. and they don't know what they're talking about."
"mom, you're 82!"
"shhhhh, and i still seem younger!" she announces with some swagger to her voice.
there's a part of me that is relieved she's happy and seems to be getting to a point where she doesn't realize what is taking place any longer. she just feels lucky to be living in such a nice spot and that gerry and hope visit often. if i'd only come back to visit more..........and i'm thrilled she still recognizes my voice when i call. i'm still her "baby." i should be thrilled for her that she can be happy, that she's comfortable. but it's just plain hard........to slowly lose my mom. and to feel like an orphan even as she continues to inhabit her body.
i'll continue to call....we'll continue to have the same conversation and i'll go back to visit before the summer takes its leave. i just wish.............
i love you mom!