Sooooo…my mother is visiting for two weeks. The other day, I asked local Facebook friends for suggestions for things we could do to amuse ourselves, and people gave me all kinds of nice ideas. The thing is, none of them seems to be appropriate at this point.
Small Town has an outdoor amphitheater with a production of a local-history drama—Indians and massacres and what have you—but the show doesn't start until 8:30 at night, and my mother’s bedtime seems to be 9:30ish. Wooster, Ohio has nice shops and cafes, but it’s a drive, and a return trip would interfere with nap time. Roscoe Village requires lots of walking, and that just won’t do.
So, we twiddle our thumbs a little bit, and maybe that’s OK. We’ve made cupcakes and sat outside when the weather allows and had lunch by the pool. We’ve talked and reminisced and pet the cat. Who says we need to stay busy at all times or always need to be about a task?
The thing is this: my mother, at 85, has slipped into a level of dementia, and it’s a mystery. At moments, she seems very lucid and on top of her surroundings. And moments later, she sits on the edge of her seat, looks lost and asks, “What should I be doing today?” She wanders the house looking in random cabinets for unknown things. She puts events together to form new events, telling stories about things that never happened and getting offended about conversations that never took place.
To some extent, we all live within our own heads, but when our heads turn on us and detach from what goes on outside them, living day to day gets tricky. If you’re half alert, wouldn’t you question everything you think you see and hear? Wouldn’t you wonder if what you believe is actually fiction you’ve created and then doubt and second-guess and become absolutely paranoid?
My mother has always been paranoid and full of self pity and bitterness. It would be a nice gift if dementia would relieve her of those cankers, but sometimes what goes on in her traitorous head seems to exacerbate them, and that's not gift at all. It's a dirty trick.
Yesterday I came to a realization—if my genes have any say in the matter, I have about 35 years before my own head turns tale and runs. That’s the blink of an eye, or it’s a life time, depending on how you see it. At the moment, I’d like to think I have a life time left to do brilliant things with breaks to pet the cat and have lunch. What should I be doing today?