I’ll be seeing you…

I’m not sure what to think about today’s conversation with Mom. I called to let her know I was back in town. I had called once from out of town, and she was glad to hear from me, and we just had a brief talk. We were both confused by the change to Daylight Savings Time. I was pleased that she didn’t call me at all while I was away. I checked my work voice mail about three times per day Friday through Monday just in case she did call. Then again, her less frequent calling strikes me as more bad than good in terms of her status – to me, it seems to be associated with her general social withdrawal that I think I am witnessing. And yet it is good as well, because, well, selfishly, fewer calls tend to mean less work for me, less worry for me and, let’s just say it, less irritation for me as I try to fumble through a conversation with her.

So, I called, and she had a drowsy sound to her voice. But she said she hadn’t been napping. She had been playing bingo recently. “But I’m not very good,” she said. I do wonder what she does during the bingo games. She said things were going well. Asked me how my trip was after I reminded her that I had been in Chicago. I told her it was nice, relaxing, we didn’t do too much, just mostly hung out with friends. And this triggered something in her. She remembered that two of her longtime friends had visited her and spent time with her. She could name one but not the other, though I figured out who it probably was and she confirmed my guess. She really liked it that they had visited her. And this was good news, because the last time one of them had visited around the Christmas holiday, things had not gone well. Her friend had wanted to take her to lunch, and this proposal agitated Mom so much that the friend decided against the trip. Part of the reason Mom hadn’t wanted to go anywhere was because she remembered that I was supposed to visit that day. I, of course, would be thrilled to arrive at the facility only to find Mom had been taken to lunch by one of her friends. But she didn’t know that. By the time I got there, the friend was gone. Mom was irritated with her friend. I couldn’t figure out why Mom was so upset. And then I just happened to find a small cup of pills on her nightstand – pills she was supposed to have taken with breakfast. It turns out the dining room had been closed during breakfast, so all residents ate in their rooms. Whoever delivered the breakfast did not make sure Mom took her meds, which include two antidepressants. I was surprised that her mood could be affected that quickly after missing her morning meds. I complained to the nurse, explained to the friend, and it hasn’t happened again.

I was tickled during our conversation that Mom could connect my visit with friends to her experience having friends visit her. This seemed like an improvement over her usual memory and comprehension. But I can’t say that impression lasted. I asked her if that visit from her friends was today. “Well, I can’t remember when it was,” she said. Might she be recalling a visit from around Thanksgiving, when I know both visited? She also mentioned that she’d like to go back there someday – meaning Chicago, where I had just been. Mom spent a year there with my very young brother and sister while my dad served an internship at the University of Chicago hospitals. I told her, “You spent time there as a young mother.” She said, “Who had the baby?” And just as quickly forgot that she’d like to go to Chicago someday. I never like it when she expresses interest in travel because I know those days are over for her, but of course I can’t say that. It requires redirecting skills that I don’t think I have mastered.

I told her I’ll come visit tomorrow. As we were signing off, she said, “I’ll be seeing you, in all those old fomotions….” And she stopped there. She laughed, and realized she had no idea where to go from there with the lyrics that had drifted through her head. We both laughed. She said to tell my husband hello – “because I like him.” She said her cat is an angel. And then we hung up.

And I have been humming “I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places…” I could have worse thoughts in my head.

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