I was in New Orleans last week as a guest of the Alzheimer’s Association at an inspiring conference about the disease and the rather amazing strides being taken by the Association. Pretty amazing that in a time of gridlock and party enmity, Congress approved $122 million for Alzheimer’s research and care. Mary Matalin and James Carville spoke. Maybe this really is one issue that transcends red and blue. After all the color of the Alzheimer’s campaign is purple.
I’m also chair of the 2014 Seattle Walk to End Alzheimer’s but more on that later…Mother will have a team!
After an absence of a week, I saw Mom today. As I arrived, she was looking at photos of her and Dad – as teen-agers and at their wedding. She and Dad knew each other for 75 years and while she still remembers him, their strong bond seems to be fading, so I was thrilled to see her looking at those photos. My but he was handsome.
As I sat down, Phyllis, Mom’s neighbor, came in. I gave her a huge hug – which she loves. Usually that’s the end of it but then she walked up to Mom and gave her a hug. Sweet.
Then the usual gambits:
I tell that I intend to beat her at Scrabble. At this she pretends to cry. At the conclusion of the game, I say, “You did very well. You scored 275!” (Not bad at all – she regularly beats my sisters.)
Two beats and then she (knowing what’s coming) says, “And you got?”
“474,” say I.
As she laughs, I add, “But you realize that if I win, you win. It shows what a good job of raising me you did.” (I’m always trying to mention the fact that I am her daughter.)
During the game, she will occasionally say “Bless my soul,” immediately followed by “Would you like my soul?”
I always tell her that she should keep her soul. “You will need it when you get to the Pearly Gates, I say. Dad will be waiting and you don’t’ want to have to admit that you gave it way during a game of Scrabble.” She laughs.
I tell her that I have to go the dentist and again she laughs, adding that she and Phyllis will hold me down so the dentist can work on my teeth.
When I ask to use the bathroom, she holds out her hand and says, “That will be $.50.” Then she relents and says “OK, you can go for free…this time.”
My wonderful, smiling, laughing, cheerful mother. I simply adore her.
Mom (on the left) and the ladies of Assisted Living.