Sights and Sounds


Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm as Dumb as a Bag of Rocks

When taking care of a Senior, sooner or later you start to see little dents in their otherwise very sharp minds.  Immediately you start to think, Is it twilight?, Is it senior dementia?, Am I seeing the beginning stages of Alzheimer's?  In your mind you don't want to believe that maybe they are starting to lose touch with reality.  Even worse there are days when they seem to get stuck like an old vinyl record with a scratch, asking the same question, or giving the same information over, and over, and over again.  Desperately,  you go over the conversation you've already had on the topic, starting each sentence with, "Don't you remember when we talked about this", or Don't you remember we talked about that just a little while ago?".

One day my mother was having one of what my sister and I call Mushy Mind days.  Every time I appeared in my mother's room she announced to me that the temperature was going into the '90's.  She has been very interested in the weather ever since she waited for a bus for an hour the morning after the Blizzard of 1967.  No matter how much I explain that the amount of snow, and the lack of traffic that morning, should have been a tip off long before she reached the bus stop, it always falls on deaf ears.  Also her idea of a weather forecast is the high temperature for that day, and what it looks like outside her bedroom window at 6:30 in the morning. When I showed her what the colors (Doppler radar) on the weather map actually meant, she was truly amazed.  But apparently that part is just useless information.  It also doesn't matter that she won't be going out that day.  Just acquiring the knowledge, and passing it on to me is enough.

Well this particular day I had a lot of work to do, and was really busy.  Every time I appeared in her room she wanted me to stop what I was doing so she could tell me about the weather report.  Determined to get her to remember so I could stop having the conversation, I kept asking, "  Don't you remember we just talked about that?".   After about six or seven conversations about the weather, I was starting to get really irritated.  I carefully recounted everything she said, and everything I said.  I even pointed out that we had watched one of the reports on TV together.  Again and again I asked, "Don't you remember we talked about  that?".  Finally, my mother swiveled her neck, the way black women do to REALLY emphasize their point, looked me right in the eye and said, " NO I DO NOT!!!".  

Right then I realized, of course she didn't remember; if she had she wouldn't keep telling me.  How irritated my poor mother must be to have her supposedly sane oldest daughter ask her the same stupid question over, and over, and over again.  She must have thought I had lost MY mind.  Immediately I thought to myself, " I'm as dumb as a bag of rocks".  It made me smile without knowing it, and my mother asked me "What's so funny?".  I just asked, "What's the weather going to be today?".  The smile that appeared on her face was immediate and genuine, animatedly she gave me her version of the weather forecast.  The repeating weather forecast only lasted about another two hours, and every time I stopped and listened as if it were the most important news I was going to get that day.  From then on, whenever she tells me something I already know, or she's already told me, I stop and listen as if it's the first time time I've ever heard it.  After all, for her IT IS the first time, and it's important for her to be able to contribute to our lives as much as we contribute to hers.