Mother sweet child
“It’s this disease I have, can’t remember much”
The same question is repeated again for the fifth time for the last 10 minutes. I mechanically answer the same as before and avoid thinking about it.
“Mother has never been so good to handle with, before as she is now.” Says my brother Ivo.
If it should be so that we live different lives on earth as souls, learning from every lived life, every experience; what do we learn from life when Alzheimer’s affects us? Is my mother still learning, or has she stopped learning and finally enjoying life? If someone is learning from this whole experience, that person should be me.
From time to time, mother speaks of her childhood and cries. “I lost my mother when I was 3 years old. I had no mother. The saddest thing in the world, to have no mother”, she lights up another cigarette has my brother arrives for a short chat. “I have already lost two children, may God take me before I loose any more children. Now its my turn to go.” My brother cuts carefully open the cactus fruit and mother picks the light green, juicy core with her fingers. “Have you washed your hands, mother?” her mouth is full with her favourite fruit “hmm. I’ve been washing them all mourning…”
I have always enjoyed the company of children rather than adults. Meeting my mother in this new condition, I get challenged in the same way I was challenged bringing up my girls, between 3-7. She has the stubbornness of a three year old and the wisdom of a seven year old.
Having to remember for both of us, I forget to give her breakfast and sometimes her pills. As my body has to be aware and awake at all times, things happen, when I turn my back. She gives away the fruit and feeds the cats with the cake I saved for my nephew. Now as I am sitting and writing this, she has packed more cake to deliver to the neighbour, but gave them to the boy riding the motorcycle. I don’t even know if he likes old cakes.
So I am wondering: what am I learning from a 77-year-old child?
Now, just as I was settling outside in the terrace, to write these lines, my mother was watering the flowers and unaware she watered my machine as well.
Sometimes I have to control myself, to avoid shouting at mother in the same manner I shouted at my children. Repeating the same answers over and over again, having to remember details of her life and having to watch over her doings is a growing challenge. Earlier today, she meant that something was wrong with the gas, so she decided to shut it. She left it open, checking things out I asked not to touch the gas bottle, but as I turned away she had changed it back. How many minutes would it take? Before we had a gas explosion. This, because the water hitter is in the same closed area and all it would take, it would be to turn the warm water on. Then the hitter makes a sparkle to turn on the gas. I am just happy I was around.
I still remember a neighbour’s gas explosion some years ago. Half of the house fell down.
In between I am finally embroidering again. I am hypnotised, every time I sit down and give my first stitch. I am working on a piece, all by self, in order to learn all the different techniques. The last one I started she showed me and then continued and is still embroidering. Mother complains about doing several pieces at the same time. As I handed my new piece for her to show me how to do the new technique, she started again embroidering. I had to steel the material from her hands. After she insisted on doing one thread on a bit that I was doing poorly, the she ended up by embroidering a few threads. This time I had again, to steal the material from her hands, “I have to learn these techniques, therefore I have to do it my self. Embroider on your own”.