“What time is it?” Mom asks throughout the day. I can understand that it’s easy to get confused in the winter when it’s still dark in the morning, and already dark by late afternoon. The digital clock by her bedside doesn’t seem to help. Her fading sight makes it hard to read the big clockface on the wall.
Fixing one problem, I continue to discover, creates unexpected new ones. I exchange her tiny watch for a Timex with large black numbers. She confuses the hour and minute hands. I change the wristband to sporty Velcro so she can put it on herself, though usually upside-down. The new strap irritates her frail skin.
My fall-back position is to tell her what time it is no matter how many times she asks.
We’ve made a game of figuring out what day of the week it is. Each morning, she chooses one of the seven days of the week that we’ve made in large letters and bright colors. With coaching, she always succeeds. Then I put the name of the day on the wall where she can see it from her favorite chair.
“Was it Monday all day today?” she’ll ask.
“Only until two o’clock,” I answered once, “and then it was Saturday.” My grin gave the joke away and she laughed.
Curiously, she never wants to know the date or the month or the year. Too much information, I guess. Now is the time that matters. The events of her past have become ships passing in the fog, heading to forgotten destinations.
When she learns that someone she knows has passed away, she is somber but not particularly sad for long. It’s more like she’s returned from bidding bon voyage to someone on an ocean liner as it left the dock. She’ll miss them, but is cheered to know they’ll have a good time when they get there.
I was hurrying with a long “to do” list for her the other day and dropped my wristwatch on a cement floor. The numbers 2 and 10 fell off and rolled around inside the glass. It wasn’t a cheap watch. The warranty had expired. I couldn’t decide if it meant I should speed up or slow down.