Ok, so this isn’t “today’s” narrative anymore, since I got sidetracked after starting it. But it’s the only one I’ve got, so I’ll stick with it for now.
I try to see my mom every weekend. Usually, I go pick her up from the board and care facility and bring her to my house for an hour or so. Mostly we just talk. Sometimes, I’ll make her a little lunch with some feta cheese, olives and bread, or some Greek coffee.
Of course, these are not normal conversations on account of her dementia. In fact, it is charitable to call them conversations, but they are still important to me, and to her, I think. For example, we usually cover the same ground over and over again. Sometimes we only utter about eight to 10 different sentences; we just repeat them, sometimes with different inflections, or emphasis.
Interestingly, though she can’t really remember much anymore, she manages to maintain a theme for an entire visit, sometime over the course of a couple visits. Today’s narrative was something like this.
Effie: Come here pulakimou (my little bird). I don’t remember much anymore. But I think I loved you when you were little. Didn’t I?
Neo: Yes, momma, you loved me. You loved me too much. You let me get away with too much.
E: You have to indulge the children. We had a good life.
N: Yes, we did.
E: I took care of you didn’t? I don’t remember much.
N: Yes, mom. Do you remember Fresno?
E: Oh yes. You were there too weren’t you?
N: Yes, of course, momma.
E: I don’t remember much anymore. But I think I loved you when you were little. Didn’t I?
And so it goes, through a few repetitions on the same topic. Naturally, on different visits she is interested in different things depending on what dreams she’s been having, or something. And so, we get different narratives on different days.
It is quite striking to me how different her memory will be from one day to the next. One visit she’ll be out of it and not remember much of anything about the recent past, say 20 years. Then the next time she’ll even remember really recent things I’d told her over and over again on previous visits, that I was sure would never stick. It’s easy to get optimistic when the good days happen and think that maybe she’s getting better. But it doesn’t take long until the tide of memory recedes back to a low ebb.