Lisa tries to tempt my mother with a nice bowl of porridge: “Your belly would be so grateful.”
“Belly is not an elegant word,” Bea declares with evident distaste.
“What should I say?”
Lisa and I are just finishing a major grooming operation – shampoo, manicure, toe and ear cleaning, bed bath, etc. – when Nurse Jane arrives and notices the new lotion.
“Great stuff, called ‘very emollient body lotion,’ from Alba,” I tell her as Lisa smears a thick layer onto Bea’s back, necessary for the prevention of dry skin and bedsores.
“E-moll-ient!” pipes in the back’s owner, taking joy from each syllable. The spa treatment has put her in fine spirits.
Later, I ask what emollient means.
“Don’t know,” she says. “And you thought I was so smart!”
I am changing her by myself this evening, a tricky task due to extreme frailty. In order to position the underpad, I have to trot around the bed several times and tug on her sheepskin.
“Too bad you can’t jump,” Bea comments wryly.
Joared posted a comment that sent me to a Web site with an amazing sunset to symbolize the end of life.
I thought a lot about senility today and whether it applies to my mother. Here are some dictionary definitions to ponder:
1.) Senile: Exhibiting the symptoms of senility, as impaired memory or the inability to perform certain mental tasks.
2.) Senile dementia: A progressive, abnormally accelerated deterioration of mental faculties and emotional stability in old age, occurring especially in Alzheimer’s disease.
3.) Dementia: Deterioration of intellectual faculties, such as memory, concentration, and judgment, resulting from an organic disease or a disorder of the brain. It is often accompanied by emotional disturbance and personality changes.
Bea does not suffer from 2 or 3, but senility applies although, on some days, her mind is crystal-clear. Last week I noted distress at being unable to do anything “useful.” Today she failed my Everything-You-Can-Remember-About-Playing-Scrabble test yet felt well enough to want to go outside.
ME: “How I wish there was a magic button on your bed that I could push and transport you into the garden and then you could see how beautiful the cosmos look in the sunshine, with the goldfinches flitting from branch to branch!”
BEA: “I’m getting up. I am going to get up and act in a sensible way.”
ME: “You don’t think staying in bed is sensible?”
BEA: “Interesting question!”
My mother is just very old. During her waking hours, her mind stays busy: today she was wondering what life would have been like as a man. Senile she may be, but sharper than many of the young folks who voted for George W. Bush.
“Onomatopoeia,” Bea says as I leave the room. “Now there’s a lovely word ….”