Trips

When I wake up this morning and go check on Mom, her bedroom light is on. After using the commode, she’s gotten back into bed to think about things.

“What’s up?” I ask. We’re all vigilant about her breathing these days to be sure she’s not getting fluid around her lung again.

“I was going to go to…” She starts out strong, but the destination disappears before she gets there. “Sit down.” She moves her legs under the bright flowered bedspread.

I accept her invitation and sit on the edge of her bed. She wants to talk about this. “Where were you going?”

“I was going with some people, I don’t know who, and we were going to, um, I’m not sure….”

“Um-hmm.” If I don’t interrupt, sometimes she finishes more of her story and I have a better chance of figuring out what she’s talking about.

“I’d been there once before,” she tells me, “so we were going there again.”

“Where is this?” I ask again.

“I don’t know.”

She’s trying to give an accurate report of what a memory feels like, or the look of a dream. Slippery things.

“Who was going with you?” Maybe she remembers faces, or voices.

“I’m not sure.”

“Maybe you’re mixing a dream and a memory and something from TV,” I suggest.

“No, we were going somewhere….” But the destination still eludes her.

She used to be on the go all the time. “Do you miss traveling?” I ask.

“Not at all,” she says immediately. Now she likes being warm and comfortable at home in familiar surroundings.

“So, let me get this straight,” I say. “You’re thinking about going on a trip to someplace you can’t remember with people you don’t know.”

Everything becomes clear. She beams. “That’s why I’m not going!” she declares. `

Photograph of Jennifer & Peg at the start of the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska in 1975. The 3-day hike was Peg’s idea. It was rainy & muddy & gorgeous.

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5 thoughts on “Trips

  1. Precious! The balance between struggle and humor. I love the way you take time with your mom, Jennifer, because accuracy is not what’s important anymore…just moments. My own mom, wandering through Alzheimerlandia, used to recite “The Psalm of Life,” a poem she’d memorized while a school girl, and laugh her head off (after shouting, “Oh shit!”) when she’d drop a line. Humor got us to homebase every time.

  2. Perfect. Me too. Maybe we’re all taking a trip with people we don’t know and not getting anywhere! Jennifer, your mother is profound and your outlook is inspiring. I hope when my memories elude me, someone will sit and listen to them anyway. xo

  3. This is a lovely testament to your relationship. As my mother’s dementia progressed, I became more and more patient, and compassionate. There were some days when I was terribly impatient, but overall, there was a lot of healing.Thanks for taking us on the journey.

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