Mom, in a contemplative mood.
When I stopped in at my mother’s house a few nights ago, she was very busy in her bedroom trying to pack things up because she thought she was on a train. My nephew, who is one of Mom’s caregivers, had been unable to distract her or convince her she was home.
In this scenario, the train ride was over and “the men” were coming to remove all her belongings. Mom was shuffling around with her arms full of random objects trying to figure out where to put them. Thus, I found myself making room in my late father’s underwear drawer for a large and dusty framed picture and some balls of yarn. My mother was pleased with that solution but then cast her eyes upon the wooden wall alcove that holds a lovely carved statue of the Virgin Mary.
I rolled my eyes. “Ma, we can just put that here on the dresser. We don’t need to pack it right now. Let’s go into the dining room and have a cup of tea.”
Mom eyed me reproachfully. Then, using my childhood nickname, she said, “Oh Mee-el. You know I would be brokenhearted if anything happened to this.”
The "Oh, Mee-el" killed me dead.
And so I dutifully secured the Virgin Mary in her wooden stand using rubber bands (my mother’s suggestion) and carefully packed her into the bottom drawer of the dining room sideboard, covering her with the old table linens so that all I could see were her sympathetic, saintly eyes gazing up at me through the stained and tattered remnants of an ancient tablecloth. My mother supervised, as she always has.
Later, Benjamin fixed dinner while Mom and I enjoyed a cup of tea together (after she wisely stashed some silver spoons in her purse, lest "the men" lose them when they arrived to help her disembark). At some point, the train delusion seemed to fix itself. She expressed her surprise that I had known what time she was getting in and had known where to pick her up.
"But how did you know?" she asked me. "How on earth did you know where to find me?"
I searched my brain for the right response, the answer that wouldn't let on that she was lost in Alzheimer's World.
"Um." And then it came to me. "I checked the train schedule, of course!" I answered triumphantly.
"Of course!" she laughed.
And all was well in Alzheimer's World.