The Boring Topic

Today, I am  writing with Mom. Just so we are clear, she knows that I write about her. She feels that she is a terrible topic and she wonders why anyone would find her interesting. I reminded her also that I write about her because it was a suggestion of the Alzheimer’s Association and that some of the issues we run into may help other people. She still continues to think that she is a boring topic and we can agree to disagree.

We have just finished lunch and Bingo will start soon. We are reviewing our week and we’ve had some laughs and some problems. A recap of our week goes something like this…

We have lost her remote…we have found her remote. We have lost her remote…we have found her remote. Repeat x10.

She has found a new friend, a blue soft stuffed dog. She has not named it yet and I can tell that she has forgotten about Matilda for now. Matilda is sitting on top of her bed, watching the new dog taking her place. I hope we don’t have to bring both of them on our travels. If you visit her, bring food, not any more stuffed animals.

She has wanted to go home for the last month and today is no different. I don’t know where “home” is. She normally will tell me she wants to go home on the phone. Home could be one of a few places. It could be the farm we lived on for seventeen years with her lovely garden, it could be two blocks from my own house, where they adopted both Ross and I. It could be off of Chicago or Penn where they lived in the 40’s and 50’s. Home could be Howard Lake, where she graduated from and where she has so many memories. She talks a lot about the red house, which is located in Crystal, where they lived for a short time. Home is important to people and when illness occurs, I hear that so much. “I want to go home!”. When I have a Client who states that, I wish I could help them find their home. Home could also imply being with a much missed loved one. I wish I knew which “home’ mom was referring to.

We have found six of her missing pants. As it is in a memory care unit, things disappear. I had bought a few pants for her at Land’s End but was upset so many of her pants were missing. The staff found them in four different rooms and all is right with the world again.

She received some cards for Valentines Day from two very long time friends. Thank you Marilyn and Ardis! Something so simple, means so much. We have hung them up in her room so that every day she will remind me she got some cards. That is a funny thing about memory loss, every day is new.

As a special surprise, I bought her some girl scout cookies…thanks Leslie! She was a girl scout leader (Troop 81!) when I was a girl so besides her love of Thin Mints and lemon cookies, there is some history there. She was very excited to get them.

She voiced missing my dad today. Boy, I second that. I miss having him answer my questions.

The other comment she has been stating is “Well, it’s time for bed.” This is said at nine in the morning, two in the afternoon and right before she is going to bed. She has always been an early riser and gave 100% the whole day. As you know, she was a walker, each and every day. When I look back in her journals, she really walked even when it rained. I think that is the reason she is in such good shape for almost eighty-eight. In the last few months, she has been sleeping more. I catch her in the chair or tucked sweetly in bed, sound asleep. She has found a new love, her bed. Remember the day when she would not get out of bed? I’m ok with that. In fact, if I could be in bed right now, I would too.

I am proud that I have not put my mom’s roommates daughter in a headlock. No… really. She just can’t help herself in making comments about what I buy for mom. There was a Snicker’s comment today and I let it go. You know the thoughts that go through your head and you are so glad no one can hear them? That was about two hours ago. I hope she finds the girl scout cookies today.

Lastly, she is worried about her bird house outside. It’s snowing and she can hardly see it. I tell her it will be fine but I know she doesn’t hear me. She is tired and I know her bed is calling. If you haven’t already guessed…she is a good mom. She tells me to go home due to the snow. Home, how ironic.




The Purse


Those of you that know my Mom, know that it was a rare moment that she didn’t have her purse with her. When I would drive to my home town and we would go out for the day, her first comment to me was, “Where is my purse?”. Normally it was found right by her bed or by her chair. The purse has witnessed a lot and could most likely tell some stories.

The history of her favorite purse shall remain partly a secret, mainly the price. When I worked in an office building, Steve will tell you the worst thing that could have happened to me is that a photographer moved downstairs. I loved his work and he used Sophia in some of his ads and marketing. I will admit that I went a little crazy with photos. One night, he brought up a purse he had made with Sophia’s picture on it. I instantly thought, Mom is going to love this! He had me hook, line and sinker. I didn’t really ask the cost at the time, which I should of. The cost of it will always be a secret, nor does it matter. I knew it was the best gift for Mom.

I don’t remember exactly when I gave it to her, it might have been for her birthday. I know that she had the biggest smile on her face and instantly ditched her blue, fake leather, old purse. Her granddaughter was now on display in the form of a purse. It’s funny, when I think of it, I never once wanted the purse for me, just for Mom. To say I had bought her the best gift is an understatement.

That purse has been through a lot.

I remember when my parents went to Yuma for the winter, Dad would call and tell me the stories of Mom forgetting her purse at the cafĂ©, the casino and at their friend’s house. I heard it almost every time I called and I could tell my Dad did not understand the start of her memory loss. I covered for her since I have also forgotten my purse a time or two. In full disclosure, a few months ago, I forgot my purse at home, three days in a row. THREE DAYS!  My tendency to cover for her was great. My Dad knew it and I covered for her as only a daughter will do.

I covered so well for her, I about lost my mind two years ago. On a phone call to her, she casually stated that she couldn’t find her purse. I asked if she looked in all of her normal spots and she had. I called her assisted living building at the time and they could not find it in her room. Please remember, Mom lived in a small town and I wasn’t quite so worried; it will show up somewhere.

Day two, day three, day four…no purse.

I am starting to panic now since I realize she has her checkbook and all of her cards (SS, medical, license) all of the stuff I should have taken out and put in a safe spot. I am also realizing that I have failed her, just a little. I really wrestled with the fact of letting her keep her checkbook and for her to write checks. I knew she only wrote out a few checks to the Waters Edge, church and to get her hair done. I would come every month and pay the rest of her bills. There was a part of me that did not want to take away her checkbook because then I would know she couldn’t handle something as simple as writing out checks. It’s similar to taking away your drivers license. It simply came down to independence for her, and her writing those few checks. I don’t know why I kept those important cards in her purse still. She took her purse everywhere with her, and I would just pull them out at the doctors office or if we needed to fill out forms. Handy, right in her purse and now the purse is missing.

I spent one day calling every friend and spot I thought she had been at. I called The Edge, Tom’s Food Pride, Fron Church, Bremer Bank and Samuelson’s Drug Store. No Purse. I even spoke to Lois, the church secretary twice. I can’t believe her purse is gone and I am mad at myself.

I believe it was day five, Lois called from Church and gave me the good news that they had checked again in the pews and it was tucked under the pew and they found it. Everything was intact and nothing was missing. Hence, it was found at church and in my beautiful small town where everyone knows whose purse that was. I am so grateful to Lois, who looked just one more time and found it.

The purse has been on vacations with her, witnessed a second grandchild be born, held close to her arm when she buried her husband, been forgotten a time or two and has been on this journey with her. It’s moved from her home, to the assisted living and now to her memory care unit. I noted it today, hanging from her bed post and still in sight for her. It is hardly used but carries some mints, some spare change, a pen, dental floss and a few pictures of my girls. Her checkbook and cards are gone and hidden in my desk.

That purse, for what is it worth, was the best investment. It filled my Mom up with joy, pride, love and excitement. It was worth every cent…