The World According to Mom

mom in garden

On Saturday, Mom and I were watching CNN’s coverage of the Trump rally in Tucson, Arizona and the gathering swell of protesters.

On Trump.

Mom:  I like him. He’s funny.

Me:  A lot of people don’t like him.

Mom: Why not?

Me: Because he wants to get rid of all the Muslims and immigrants, for one thing.

Mom:  Oh, I didn’t know that.

After watching CNN for awhile, she said,  “I still like him. He makes me laugh.”

On Hillary Clinton.

Me: What do you think about Hillary?

Mom (grimacing): Not much.

On her clothes closet.

Mom: There’s so many things in there that don’t belong to me. I don’t know where they came from.

Me: That’s why I brought you some new clothes. Last time I saw you you said the stuff you have is drab.

Mom: You didn’t have to waste money on that. What about my clothes at home? I won’t be here forever.

On cookies:

I bring her a box of Choco Leibniz every week or two; she calls them “chocolate grahams.”


(google image)

Mom: Oh no, I don’t need any more cookies. I’m getting fat.

Me: What about these lemon cookies I got? They’re very light.

Mom: Those are okay.

I open the box, and she eats a few demurely with her coffee.

Mom: But no more chocolate!

Me: Okay.

On Raymond (another resident).

Mom and I take a spin around the floor. She likes to keep moving.

Mom: He’s always walking up and down with that other one (new female resident). It bothers me.

Me: Why?

Mom: I don’t know. It just does.

Me: He likes to keep moving, just like you.

Mom: I guess so.

On cinema:

Mom:  (very animated) I’ve been waiting to see “Liss for Life”.

Me: What’s that?

Mom: You know. They say it’s coming on, but I keep missing it.

Me: Who’s in it?

Mom: Van Gogh, you know. (more emphatically) Liss for Life.

Me: Oh, “Lust for Life.”

Mom: Yes!

Me: Remember who plays van Gogh?

Mom: Schmikkel Ledberzz.

Sometimes Mom speaks gibberish–it comes with the Alzheimer’s.

Me: Kirk Douglas?

Mom: Yes, that’s what I said. (super animated now)


(google image)

On hair stylists.

Mom: She’s never around to color my hair.

Me: I need to pick up your color at ShopRite.

Mom: They don’t have it here?

Me: No. That’s why they can’t color it now.

Mom: Well, it has to get done right away.

Me: I’ll bring the color next weekend, and then she’ll do it.

Mom: I hope so.

On stuffed animals.

I got her a small stuffed animal bunny for Easter.

Me: Do you have a name for the bunny?

Mom: No. He doesn’t need a name.


Death Is Not Sexy

The Super Bowl is sexy. Well, at least the Victoria’s Secret commercials and some of the halftime entertainment are, from what I’ve heard. I don’t watch it (sorry), so I don’t know. Death is not sexy.

I haven’t seen my mom in a couple weeks due to the death of my father-in-law and being sick myself, but I spoke to her last night at around 8 p.m. She was in a state.

I don’t like it when she’s in “a state.” Most of the time she seems fairly serene, even content and happy. On other occasions, she is lucid and questions her life and how she’s living.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Not well,” she said, a faint moan in her voice.

“What’s wrong?”

“Everything. I can’t get anything done. What will become of me?”

“What happened, Mom?”

“I can’t get ready for bed. What kind of life is this? I’d rather be dead.”

“I’m sorry you’re upset, Mom.”

“What’s going to happen to me? I can’t do anything, can’t go anywhere.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

I had no words of wisdom to impart. I agreed with everything she said. What kind of life was this?

“What about the grahams?” she said.

“I’m bringing you the cookies this weekend.”

“Are you sure? Are you really coming?”

“Yes, I’ll be there.”

“It’s been such a long time.”

“Lorin’s father died, then I was very sick last weekend. I didn’t want to get you sick.”

“Oh, right. But you will come this weekend?” Pain in her voice.

“Yes, I promise. I’m sorry you feel so bad. Is there anything good on 13?”

“No, nothing but junk—ads.”

“Oh. There’s still snow on the ground. Isn’t it pretty?”

“Yes, I always like that.”

“It’s going to snow tonight into tomorrow morning, they said.”

“Oh, that’ll be good.”

She loved shoveling snow when we lived in Jackson Heights. I have a photo of her shoveling on the stoop, cheeks flushed and smiling.

“Okay, Mom. Try to get some sleep. I’ll see you in a couple days.”

“Okay, good night, dear.”

She still sounded awful. I didn’t provide any comfort and felt utterly helpless and sad.

She lives at The Actors Home in the Enhanced (Alzheimer’s) Unit, with fellow performing artists. It’s the best place she could possibly be. But I don’t like bearing witness to her pain and suffering.

Jeffory Morshead wrote a bestselling book called Alzheimer’s: The Long Goodbye (The Emotional Aspects of Caregiving). That is what it is: a long death, not a speedy, graceful one. There are different qualities of “good nights” and goodbyes. Last night was not a good one.

Momma glamour shot
Mom as a young actress (photo by Joe Ratke)