Tuesday is the day I go and help out Mum. She had a stroke in May and it left her with slight wonky-ness – in her body, her thinking and especially in her words.
Conversations with Mum can vary wildly, depending on whether or where her words are hiding at that moment or not. Or apparently whether she is actually listening…
Today we went for a walk. It was down a busy road with no pavement, but she did agree to take her walking stick because the physio told her ‘it’s useful for hitting people with’. It seems there were insufficient people around to practice this new sport on though, and like a child with an oversized toy, she decided after a few minutes that she didn’t want to carry it and handed it to me.
We must have looked a right pair – me with the walking stick, Mum with her old lady hobble moving at snails pace while each time a car zoomed past I’d push her into the hedge, holding the walking stick across her as those it had some magical powers of protection…. Anyway, I digress. We walked, then we sat a while for Mum to get the energy together to get back home, and we chatted.
I braved wedding chat (I say braved as Mum has entirely lost her filter and a lot of what I tell her is met with ‘I don’t like that’). Today though, she seemed to listen as I said:
‘So part of the deal at the place is that we can choose to use some of their table decorations. One of those is a round mirror, so I thought maybe I’d just collect pretty jam jars, fill them with flowers and pop them on the mirrors so they are reflected. What do you think?’
‘Hmmmm’ She answered, ‘OR you could get some pieces of glass’
‘Pieces of glass?’
‘I mean like those’ (She tapped my glasses)
‘Get some bits of pairs of glasses? For the table decorations, Mum?’
‘No no no. Round ones’
‘Not actual glass’
‘Mum, do you mean mirrors?’
‘Yes, round mirrors’
‘And then get glass vases and fill them with flowers and put them on the mirrors’
‘Mum, that’s pretty much exactly what I….actually, you know what? That’s a great idea. Maybe I could do that…’
It was fun. Mum losing words seems to be contagious so we both seem to spend too much time waving arms and looking blank. Sometimes I just throw random words out in the hope that I’ll hit on the right one. (Dad? Mum? Uncle? Aunt? Cousin? Sister? Brother? Oh, brother, ok! Any idea what we were talking about?) Sometimes I just do the sort of deep breathing that a free diver would be impressed by. That is especially true when we get to The Bra Argument.
The Bra Argument happens every bloody week. A few months ago I took mum to a bra shop and the lady who helped us had the great plan that if mum had a bra she could pull over her head like a t-shirt, she wouldn’t be reliant on anyone dressing her as doing up a standard bra is a bit too tricky these days. We practiced in the shop. Mum thought it was a great plan. We bought the bra.
The next week Mum said she needed a different new bra as she couldn’t put the new one on. I said she could. She said she couldn’t. I suggested she tried. She could. She said it was a lot easier that time. All was good. (The conversation is a lot more fraught than that and it turns out there is a fine line between deep breathing and hyperventilating. Variations of the argument include me not having being at the shop with her so not knowing what the lady said, and entirely fabricated conversation with the lady, and complete stony silence.)
The following week as I dressed Mum she said that she needed a different new bra because she couldn’t put the new one on. I said she could. She said she couldn’t….well, you get the idea.
We managed to get to the point I was leaving before we had The Bra Argument today. It snuck up in a conversation about getting dressed. We weren’t even doing the dressing part – that had been hours earlier. But sneak up it did. I should probably just agree each time to getting a new one the next week as there is a good chance mum will forget. But equally it could be one of the thoughts she gets stuck on like a scratched record, and it’s not worth the risk as once the record is scratched, then she sinks her nails in, never to let go… ;o)
Today was a good day. Learning to laugh at the frustrations is a lesson for us both. For us all, I guess :o)