“Yes, it’s fine. Yes. Uhuh.”
That’s become Mum’s standard response when I ‘phone her. A conversation – a series of related exchanges – is ever more elusive. I know it’s a symptom of the disease but I’m still finding it hard to accept. There was a time when I could, and would, tell Mum everything and she would always have a pertinent comment to make. No more.
It’s the same when I call in to see her. A week might have gone by since my last visit but Mum reacts as if I’d been there the previous day. In a sense, that’s very positive because it’s further evidence of Mum’s contentment. At the same time, though, it shows how far away she is now. Time means nothing to her. My visits are brief and getting briefer but that’s not down to me, I hasten to add in case you think badly of me. After about twenty minutes, Mum becomes restless and is clearly ready for me to go. Pleasantries have been exhausted and the range of topics which engage her is shrinking. Even my trusty fallback, a photo album or two, doesn’t seem to work any more. Only a few weeks ago, an old photograph would spark memories. Last weekend, with topics exhausted, I produced two albums. Mum idly flicked through both with barely a comment. She was distracted and it was time for me to go.
There’s a concert tomorrow evening in memory of an old friend of Mum’s who died a year ago. My sister and I had thought this would be an ideal opportunity to take Mum out. We both decided it wouldn’t be appropriate. We both feel guilty – we should be trying harder – but Mum seems happier with her new friends in her new home. Perhaps we’ll look at some photographs instead…or perhaps not.