Two years ago my mom was able to talk with me. We sat out on my front stoop during Halloween and chatted. Not in a real linear fashion – where conversation flowed in an understandable order, but we still connected through language while doling out candy to the kids in my neighborhood.
My mom, who has always been dramatic, was overwhelmed by each Halloween costume and child. Like the great mom she is/was, she handed out encouraging (if not overly enthusiastic) compliments to the trick ‘r treaters with their candy. Judy would make eye contact with each one, and say nice things like “well, don’t you make a pretty princess” or “my – you look strong” (to a little transformer dude).
We discussed that she was sleeping over and we were gonna have pancakes in the morning and where her husband, John, was. It was the same conversation, in a loop about twenty times, interrupted periodically by a little vampire or mutant ninja turtle. I miss it.
Now my mom floats away from me when I visit – like she has some solo, manic mission to complete. An important task that from which she will not be distracted.
With today being Halloween, it occurred to me that, it’s kinda like she is some superhero (in her mind) solely focused on her tasks-at-hand, trying very hard to stay relevant in a world that’s passing her by.
If my mom was a superhero – her powers would either be connecting with people or of the cleaning variety – and hey – both are important! But now one is failing her, so she leans on the other – the way you might support yourself when twisting an ankle.
She is in a constant battle with her nemesis, dirt and disorder, as she wipes down surfaces with the pretend cloth in her hand. I know she thinks it’s really there – her sensory perception is off. She also is consumed with picking up things off the floor – a string left from a finished craft project or an errant potato chip, lint and more.
My heart crushes down a little bit when she will try to tidy up the ground as we go for a walk outside. Sure she hones in on any litter we encounter, but she will also stoop to pick up the fallen leaves that now carpet the earth. They crinkle and crunch under her feet as she approaches. She targets in and picks up a few – not realizing how many there are all around her and under her feet.
It looks rewarding to her – like she is saving the world from the clutter of these leaves. She shows them to me in her hands – no words – but a shrug of her shoulders, “see these shouldn’t be on the ground”. Then she puts them in her pocket.
I just smile and thank her. I try to put my arm around her for a quick hug if she’ll let me. Sometimes she does. Sometimes she is onto the next leaf, and all I can do is follow.
About Julie: Julie is a photographer, blogger, and so much more. She is also a friend of Positive Focus and shares her journey dealing with her mom and moving through Alzheimers.
Visit Julie’s Blog: https://judysalzheimerstale.wordpress.com/