|Photo from March 2012: me, my mother, her husband|
Steve and I went down for Mother's Day, the first one I've spent with her in decades. I was happy to see that her energy level was much improved and she was eating more; the medications and therapy must be helping out.
We had several short visits over the weekend, including a brunch on Saturday morning. When we sat down after I had cleared the dishes and perishables away, Mom chirped up, "Oh! We forgot to offer you anything to eat? Are you hungry?" Mom has always been a generous hostess.
It could not have been more than 30 minutes since we had eaten and yet it had slipped her memory. I didn't try to correct her. Instead, I answered her loving concern: yes, we had eaten, thank you.
Later, there were six of us in the room, including my brother and his partner. That makes for a lot of simultaneous conversations that can be hard to follow, even if you're at the top of your game. I noticed that Mom would be silent for quite a while, and then pick out a key word and make a witty comeback. "Oh, you just watch me!" or something socially appropriate like that. Most of the time, it worked, but there were others when I had no idea what she thought we were talking about.
When she was in hospital, her lapses were more remarkable: she still thought she lived at my childhood home in Burlington, she seemed to be living back in 1996. Those lapses have corrected themselves, but I commented to another brother that I still see short-term memory loss. Which, to be fair, is not unexpected in someone who is 87 years old! (I can only hope to be that sharp at that age!)
I think it is more noticeable to me because it had been so long since I'd had a genuine conversation or prolonged visit with her. My brothers and sisters have watched her fade in tiny increments; I have had a lapse of years. It's like seeing a young adult whom you had last seen as a toddler -- the change can be disconcerting.
This is really neither here nor there; her heart is a critical health concern and will likely take her (peacefully, we hope) long before her mild dementia becomes a cause for serious concern. She is feeble enough now that she is never left alone, so she is safe, and that's what matters.