Tricks of the Mind
Todays post is a flash back to December of 2015
I pull the sauce pan out of the lower cabinet and knock the rack of lids sending two of them crashing onto the floor.
MIL: (jumping out of her skin) What the Hell was that?! Me: Sorry Ma, I dropped the lid…. MIL: Oh … ummmm ... I .. I .. Me: (my back to her) yea Ma… MIL: I … Oh …
I turn around to see her squinting her eyes and tapping her forehead
Me: you ok Ma? MIL: … I want to tell you something…
I leave my cutting board and walk to the kitchen table, she’s clearly distraught.
Me: What is it Ma? (gently placing my hand on the top of her head and stroking back her hair) MIL: …. I … I … (tapping her forehead again) Oh I don’t know … I can’t seem to get it out.
Joe walks through the back door, I squeeze her shoulder and return to dinner prep.
Joe: (leaning in to kiss his mom) Hey Ma! MIL: Oh! well hello there! (smiling up at him seeming to forget for a moment what was distressing her) Joe: How ya doin’? MIL: Good!
Joe without even changing out of his uniform he pulls out the chair next to Mom, and they make small talk as I finish up dinner
MIL: (looking at Joe very intently) … I … ummm … geezzze … I Joe: … what ma? MIL: … I … I want to … no I don’t know
I set up the table for dinner, I'm pleased that Joey will be joining us for dinner. He's a chatter box through dinner, sharing a story about a friends truck and something about tires and mud. He and Joe laugh and talk shop, while I shake my head and smile and Mom, she smiles back and shrugs digging through her dinner. Joey finishes and gets ready to leave for the fair grounds, after he's tied up his boots he leans down and kisses Mom on the top of her head.
Joey: Bye Grandma MIL: Oh … bye?! (looking up to Joey confused) Joe: He’s going to the farm museum … MIL: Oh …. (the door slams as Joey leaves) .. I … umm ..I don’t know .. I (Mom knits her eyebrows tight) ME: (sliding my hand across the table to hold hers, now I'm growing concerned she's obviously upset about something she can't put into words) What is it Ma? MIL: I want to tell you something and I’m not sure … I don’t know … Joe: take your time what is it (stroking her arm)
Mom sits back in the chair, folds her arms and looks to the ceiling. Joe and I exchange a look
MIL: (leaning forward wringing her hands) …. I need to tell you … Joe: Go ahead Mom … MIL: (sigh) … You know I was homeless (Mom’s eyes fill with tears)…. I was living in an old empty house with no food, electricity ….. it was dark and I was all alone ….
Joe’s looking at the table, his jaw is set and he starts to shake his head slowly. I watch as the muscle in his jaw line flexes as his face becomes more and more pink
Me: (I look from Joe to Ma) Where were you Ma? MIL: Well … I don’t know … it was cold and dark, I was …. scared and very lonely … (sigh) …but then Frank came and saved me.
I look at Joe as he takes his mother hand, his eyes are filling with tears
Joe: Ma, you were never homeless … MIL: … Yes I was I remember it (her eyes are intense, her hand slaps the table hard) …. it was … it was ... cold ... cold and dark … Joe: Mom. I love you I would never allow you to be homeless! Me and Lisa would have you here with us if you didn’t have a place to live. MIL: No? but I can …. I know … (she shakes her head and looks down at the table, and back up tears are filling her eyes. She quickly returns her stare to the table ) … I remember Frank getting me! Joe: Mom, (his voice cracks) I can’t have you believing that …. I'm sorry ... I just can't Me: Ma? Look at me …. (Mom looks up from the table) Sometimes … sometimes things get a little mixed up in you brain… MIL: … I know I … Me: (now tears are welling in my eyes, not only can I see the pain in her eyes but I feel it, my heart hurts) Ya know how sometimes you can’t find the words for things? How sometimes you can’t remember what you had for lunch? MIL: Yeah …. Me: It’s because you have an illness …. Alzheimers … MIL: …. oh yes … ME: Well with this illness sometimes things get messed up in your memory … You weren’t homeless and alone .. MIL: … but … Me: … You may have felt alone in you heart a while ago and then Frank came into your life and then you felt more full …. but you were never ever cold, hungry … Your mind is creating a warped sense of reality … Joe: .. Ma? Really … I would never allow that to happen … MIL … oh … its just … I … was .. Joe: I love you Ma … MIL: (looking at Joe) … I love you too, I know you love me.
Mom reaches across the table for Joe’s hand and holds it tight, he leans down and kisses her hand. I watch the two of them, it is heartbreaking. We had experienced times when Mom was confused, when she asked about who was watching her kids for example, but never anything quite like this. There before me sat the woman who years ago raised 5 kids on her own, wrote aircraft engine manuals, was a lousy cook but an amazing writer … who now was entering a world of Warped Reality.
Me: Come on Ma, lets get you cozy …. MIL: huh? Me: Let’s set you up on the sofa. MIL: OK … Where’s Frank? Joe: He’ll be her soon … MIL: oh …. good …
Joe helps her out of the chair, I grab the pillows, blanket and stool and start the process of fluffing pillows and adjusting the stool a ‘few times’
MIL: …(sigh) this is nice … thank you Me: love you ma … MIL: love you too ….
Mom places her head back against the pillow, closes her eyes and smiles … hopefully with no memories of being homeless …….