I spent yesterday “mom sitting”. My dad wanted to go to the SF MOMA to see the Stein collection and needed someone to be with her. She’s had a rough couple of summers. Last year falling and breaking her femur, then came the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and this year she had open heart surgery. The most challenging of these events for all of us has been her Alzheimer’s. Her long term memory is fairly good but her short term memory and ability to learn new things is not, unless it touches her in some way.
“Hi Mike! Thanks for coming to take care of me while your dad’s gone.”
“‘Morning, happy to be here!”
“She’s going to need to walk soon,” said my dad, “I was going to take her but ran out of time. Then you can go again later in the morning before it gets too hot.”
“Sounds good.” It was a little odd hearing those instructions for some reason; like it was a doctor’s prescription or something. “Don’t fall asleep on BART you might snooze passed the Montgomery station, and pass by the museum.” I chided.
“I’m caught up on my sleep, thank you.” said my dad. “I’ll be back around 4:30.”
“Ok, bye.” My mom and I said nearly in unison.
“So, have you started up with school yet?” Asked my mom.
“Yep, we had two teacher work days yesterday and the day before, and the kids come back Monday.”
“Oh, guess you’re back in it then.” She reached for the paper, and began reading, so I picked up a magazine and did the same.
After several minutes she said, “What day is it? Oh, it’s right here…Saturday…that’s why you’re here, you’re not working today.”
“That’s right.” I said with a smile. “I’m going to go work on the computer for a little and then we’ll go for a walk, ok?”
“Ok, I’ll be right here.”
I went to the computer, checked email, got my rosters so I could do my seating charts later, texted with a friend then went to get my mom for her walk. I entered the living room and she was sound asleep in her chair, it’d only been about 30 minutes. She arose from her chair and we headed out. She claims to not be very steady on her feet and nervous about falling, but I had to pick up my pace to keep up with her! She had to rest several times around the block, the intervals between rests getting shorter toward the end but she did very well. We talked about recent family news, a little about her grandfather the professor at UT and how her parents had met; just chit chat.
Upon she sat in her chair claiming to be worn out; who am I to say? Maybe she was. As I brought her some water she said, “Are you back in the thick of school yet?”
I explained that we had had two work days and the students were coming on Monday.
“Oh, today is Saturday…that’s why you can be here…you’re not working.”
“Well great! I’m glad you could do this so your dad could go see his show in the City.” Then she picked up the paper and began reading it…again. she started with the same section she had already read.
The day was punctuated with moments like that, her asking me the day, date, or if I had started school yet. I made her a nice lunch, we went for another walk, though shorter because it was a bit too hot for her. I did get some school work done she stayed in her chair…a lot. I was wanting to get her engaged in something so I found some pictures from a trip my folks took to Holland a few years back. She enjoyed looking at them and answering my questions about them. After lunch the mail came so she had some more things to read, and I got a notion to go through some old family pictures. Mostly to engage with my mom but also because it’s fun.
I found a treasure trove of pictures in various parts of the house. Many I had seen before, but some were new to me. Below are some gems I discovered.
My dad returned around 5:00 and said, “I would’ve been here 20 minutes earlier but I fell asleep on BART, the train stopped, I waked up and saw a sign that said Dublin, so I hopped off….only it was the West Dublin Station, I had to wait for the next train!”
I knew he’d fall asleep. I’m thinking of getting a photo album or two and filling them with the pictures my folks have stashed around the house still in their camera shop envelopes. “I’ve always said I need to get our pictures into albums,” begins my dad, “we’ve got them all sorted by trips and events…just never got around to it.”
Now’s a good a time as any.