Sunday, June 25, 2006

When Death is What Comes Next ...

Bea is awake for most of the day, so I spend a good bit of time by her bedside. Sometimes she makes sense. Sometimes she doesn’t. The problem is recognizing what is fantasy and what isn’t.

Nurse Jane has decided I need a health aide seven days a week while Sven is abroad, so Hospice & Palliative Care of Cape Cod sends Florence to help Bea with lunch. I take advantage of her presence and run to the dump. When I return, they are chatting away, happy as can be. My mother loves new people.

Bea takes a nap in the afternoon. I check on her from time to time and rotate her body every few hours. Suddenly, out of the blue, she says, “They never returned them to me.”

“What?” I ask. “Who never returned what?”

“The two art objects that were on the table.

“Which table? Where?”

“One I found on an island in the eastern Mediterranean. It was a repetition of that flower motif I liked. I’m sorry now that I gave it to them. As a matter of fact, they didn’t ask. They just took it. Did you give them anything?”

I listen carefully. I presume Bea is recounting a dream but am not sure. Everything she has said sounds plausible. “Why should I have given them anything?”

“To celebrate the end of the season. There was a party.”


“Oh, very close to college headquarters.”

“Which college?”

“That college the kids went to.”

“Which kids?”

“Betsy and Nick.”

Ah! Now I know we have been in Dreamland again. How nice to be able to travel while bedridden!

Bea then bemoans the fact that there is no television in her room. I tell her about the wild turkey in our garden. She wants to hear news of Sven.

For dinner, Bea requests steak and eats it. Then, after ice cream, she asks, “Is your mother dead?”

“Who do you think I am?” I respond, disconcerted.

Bea pauses to think this over and says slowly, “You’re my daughter. So, your mother isn’t dead. She doesn’t want to die. She may just be in a situation where she has to die.”

Her words pretty much sum it up…


Blogger Elaine Frankonis said...

My mother is only 90, but her dementia seems worse than your mother's. She often thinks I'm HER mother, or her cousin. She forgets my name, forgets who my brother is, thinks everything she sees on television is real. She is uneducated and has never had hobbies or interests. She never read books. If she were more like your mother, maybe we would have/have had a better relationship. I've been doing this for six years now; my mother is relatively mobile, although she has a great deal of pain from the small fractures that go along with osteoporosis. I'm becoming a daily reader of your blog. I wish my experience were more like yours.

8:43 PM  

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