Below is one of the first pieces I wrote about my mother’s dementia. At the time, I had no idea that we would only have her for another five or so years.
Today’s prompt is “Where will you be in 5 years.” Please excuse me if I don’t want to go there.
(This was originally published on Facebook on July 9, 2010)
The Twilight Zone
I think Rod Serling, the creator of The Twilight Zone, must have had some experience with a person suffering from Alzheimer’s. Some days, here in Cooperstown, that’s all I can think about – The Twilight Zone.
My mother is trapped in a very strange episode of The Twilight Zone. She is time-travelling from decade to decade, and it’s difficult to figure out where she is. She thinks she is 25 years old, but her face in the mirror tells another story. It must be frightening. She thinks she has a date to go to a dance, but her date never shows up. An old man claiming to be her husband does.
When she wakes the next day, she’s in a new place. Her husband is at work (he’s been retired for 11 years, but is at a meeting). The red barn across the street looks just like the barn that was across the street from their house (it is the red barn that is across the street from their house). “Whose car is that in that in the driveway? I need to borrow it,” she says, but it’s my car and I won’t let her.
Two days ago she was very worried about me. I was 6 years old and lost. I’m here with her; I’m not lost; I’m 50. Something doesn’t make sense, but she can’t figure out what it is. We move on.
The only constant in this Twilight Zone episode is orange marmalade. Orange marmalade is served at every meal – on hot dogs, on sandwiches, you name it. Orange marmalade – I really can’t figure it out. But I think I understand now what they’re talking about on the Food Channel when they refer to comfort foods. They’re talking about orange marmalade.
I think it has always been one of my fears that I will be trapped in The Twilight Zone. It was always such a scary show to me, because there would be that twist at the end – like M. Night Shyamalan had in The Sixth Sense. Reality isn’t what we’ve been led to believe that it is. For my mother, the twist doesn’t come at the end; it comes so often that it is dizzying. Another twist and another twist.
I want to cry.
I’ll have some orange marmalade instead.
2 thoughts on “Looking Ahead”
Powerful and poignant.
No. Don’t imagine 5 years ahead. We none of us know what life will turn up for us tomorrow let alone that far ahead. Your poor mummy. But she had you. Your poor daddy. But he has you. That is all that matters. That you are this loving, faithful, stoic, tender, sometimes (often?) exasperated woman who they birthed and nurtured and raised and you never give up. I want to send you Paddington Bear. He understood the importance of orange marmalade. I do too – through you.
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