Mom speaks a unique language now. Sometimes I can translate.

At ten o’clock last night, I asked if she wanted to get ready for bed. This nightly routine requires her to stand up from her easy chair, use her walker to navigate her way to the bathroom, put on a nightgown, brush her teeth and wash her face, and walk to her bed. With company to make sure she doesn’t wobble and fall.

She didn’t move a muscle, so I asked again if she was ready for bed. Finally she said, “I feel so…moveless.”

She used the right verb to describe the action pending: move. She wanted to modify it to the negative, so picked one of many possibilities, the suffix “-less.”

Lacking the energy to move. Too tired to do anything. Unable to imagine herself doing anything but sitting in her chair. I feel that way sometimes, too. Some days the world has more gravity than usual.

As her vocabulary slowly erodes, she stays amazingly inventive in getting her meaning across. “I’m going to have a talk with my mind,” she told me the other day, as though her confusion could be cleared up by determination or willpower. When I gave her a compliment on some small success, she laughed and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’ll keep doing it.”

The relationship among things in her world seems to have gone missing. “It’s nice to meet you,” she’ll say to a visitor, someone she sees in church every week. I continue to suggest the all-purpose greeting with a smile, “How nice to see you.” A person doesn’t have to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth all the time. But Mom’s world doesn’t include the concept of deception.

She likes to get tucked into bed. The other night she said, “I love having you for my mother.”

“I’m your daughter,” I said, wanting to be pleasantly accurate. “You’re the mom.”

A puzzled look crossed her face, quickly gone. The proper words to describe our relationship aren’t particularly relevant anymore. I’m gratified she feels safe and loved in my care. That’s the point.

We manage to communicate. One morning when I was cleaning the refrigerator, she supervised from her favorite seat by the sunny kitchen window. “Don’t forget to put the thing in the dealy-o,” she advised.

I knew what she meant, so I did it.

2 thoughts on “Moveless

  1. Room to Think says:

    Beautiful story, Jennifer. I lost my mother this February. She fought the weakening of her mind in clever ways, and I was privileged to spend a lot of time with her to see it. She used to tell each new caregiver, introducing me, “I raised Jean, and now she’s raising me.” So kind of another take on relationships–perhaps your Mom wasn’t wrong to call you her mother.

    Andrea just made me a web site, but on, not the .com one. So I can follow your site from an old page of mine on, but it doesn’t alert me or anything.

    My new is Stop in and say hi? or @jeanwaight on Twitter

  2. susanissima says:

    Jennifer, you have a precious relationship with your mom and sharing it with your readers is a great gift.

    As I read this post I was reminded of my own mom’s creative language as she mined her memory for words. She never lost the urge to communicate and very near the end of her life she began to recite her favorite poems, because they came from a different place in her that was still very much intact. Thank you for allowing us to come along on this special journey with you and your mom.

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