Another Journalspace refuge

Watching the slow decay

Mom and I sit, as usual, in the living room. The television is on in the background. She’s sitting in “her” chair, located in front of her now seldom used computer. It’s an older model, one of dad’s “hand-me-downs”.

I’m sitting next to her in dad’s big, comfy chair while he’s in the back room playing on his computer.

I arrived on New Years Day. Upon my arrival, mom knew who I was. Yet I have already noticed a few of her “slips” that my brother, Carl, and his wife, Alice, had warned me about.


Then she asks where I live. “Germany”, I answer.

“Where are you going from here?” she asks.

I reply as neutral yet as truthful as possible, “Back home to Germany.”

“oh, Dorrie lived in Germany, but she moved. I have no idea where she is now.” There is no point in trying to correct her.

An empty tissue box lies on the table in front of her. In it are a few papers, a framed picture of my niece, Cassie, and her boyfriend, Anthony, plus some pencils, pens, and small scissors. Mom points to the picture.

“I don’t know the names. They left here and forgot to take the picture with them.”

“I think that’s Cassie and her boyfriend (who I haven’t met yet so I’m assuming).”

“They forgot to take it with them.” Mom insists.

“Mom, it was a present for you to keep.”

“Write the names down, I have to return it, they forgot it.” She hands me an empty envelope, I write down “Cassandra” and give it to her. She takes the picture together with the envelope and marches to the back room where dad is sitting.”

“I have to tell “that guy” (meaning dad).” Dad repeats what I had told her, but she won’t listen and gets mad because no one listens to her.

“They gave it to you as a present, to hang up somewhere,” I repeat. “Let’s find a place where we can hang it.”

“No! It’s not going here!” she then insists, since she doesn’t accept this place as her home. She then places it face down on her dresser, so it won’t get forgotten when she “goes home”.

She returns to her chair and her tissue box. She begins to sort the papers in the box. I also notice her placing the pencils and scissors into envelopes. I suggest she put them in the cup with other pen which sits next to the computer.

“But then they’ll be forgotten when I go home,” she whines. I humor her by telling her that the cup can be taken home with her as well. She thinks about that for a moment and accepts, then continues sorting the stuff in the box.

Later I’m sitting, writing in a notepad. The lighting isn’t great and she asks, “How can you see there, Dorrie?”

She recognized me again.


Comments on: "Watching the slow decay" (8)

  1. yackydoodle said:

    It’s tough watching your parents age. My mother is 88 now. She has her mind…..just stubborn as hell.

  2. burstmode said:

    When Neanderthal caves were excavated, people were surprised by the care that were given the old and even the badly injured. As a species, we have an incredible capacity to love even when the object of our love is sometimes beyond returning the sentiment.
    Big huge hug, my friend.

  3. maggsworld said:

    I feel for you Dorrie and just want to hug you. This is so hard to live through. I am grateful you at least have the chance to spend some time and be there for your Dad. Maggs

  4. My best friend just went through this with her dad and learned to just “go along” with a lot of it. In some areas she felt like she was “lying” because her Mom had died several years ago and when her dad would ask where she was CIndy would reply “Mom died”. It seemed each time he grieved for the loss of his wife so eventually Cindy responded “Mom couldn’t come today” and he would be fine. Sorry Dorrie for this…just celebrate the wonderful years you had with them and cherish the good moments now. Big big hugs!

  5. wildwesty said:

    thanks everyone. In some ways I’m trying to write down what I observe since anyone outside can’t fathom it. It’s often like she’s living in the past, we don’t exist for her as who we are so she wonders what we’re doing here. My dad has four different personas to her. And she gets VERY upset if anything is moved or changed. Any “advice” we give she takes as critisism…. perhaps hidden feelings now coming to surface? who knows….

    So in some ways I’m glad I have this JS mess to distract me *wink*

  6. i don’t know what to say. it must be tough… really tough.

  7. Dorrie, this was written so real, so heartfelt. You have to know that what your mom is doing and saying is not necessarily based on anything is her past or in old thoughts or feelings. It just is.

  8. rescuebabe said:


    Tho I have a few friends going thru this, I cant imagine it either. I dont know that I’d be able to keep my cool. I wish you the best hun, patience, and compassion (tho I know u have that).

    I know thats not much help 😦

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