Monday, March 20, 2017
The Gift of Gab
My mother is 88 years old. I am thankful to still have her. She is physically well and still always looks like a million dollars. Mom and Dad spend the winter in Florida and will be coming home soon. Mom's sisters have all suffered some form of dementia but the type Mom has is possibly the cruelest. Mom has Primary Progressive Aphasia. She can no longer process speech. Now anyone that knows my mom knows she loves to talk. She is very outgoing and social. I always hated her dragging me around the room to meet everyone and she would quickly fill people in on my attributes. She loved talking on the phone with her sisters and her friends. Doreen in particular was always good for at least an hour. Mom used to call me every single day wherever she was. Over the last several years I began to notice a change. At first there was an occasional halted word or she would repeat something. She began using fillers more and more to pause the sentence while she searched for the right word. I would count the 'yeahs' and they were plentiful. I must admit this got annoying but I would gladly go back to that and wait out the stream of "yeahs". This winter the daily phone calls stopped. Dad calls twice a week and I speak to Mom for a couple of seconds before we end with I love you. I can't tell anymore that that's what she is saying but I know it is. I no longer tell her anything because she can't or doesn't appear to be processing it. Any bit of conversation she tries to have with Dad is like a scavenger hunt .What appear to be random facts are really clues she painfully tries to give as she attempts to tell him something. Sometimes a simple snippet takes two hours of back and forth and Mom won't give up. I woke up this morning with a word in my head and it was my mothers voice saying it. Ganglion. Strange word but my mom was a medical fountain of knowledge. She worked as a librarian at the Saint John Regional Hospital for years before the internet and she did hundreds of searches for medical students, doctors and nurses. I used to tease her and call the old General hospital the Iva Bradley Memorial. She worked in the out patient department there and she was a crackerjack. Her gift of gab was definitely an asset. The other thing that I woke with this morning was my memory of my Mom laughing and some of our standing jokes. I laid there for quite awhile trying to remember the name of the woman from her childhood we would use when she would put a kerchief on her head. Mrs. Coughlan. The sadness of Mom's condition is really hitting me. I realize now that I will never be able to get missing facts from her. I will never again have a real conversation with her. She is gone before she's gone and I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for a woman who loved to talk to have that taken from her. I know how sad it makes me that it has been taken from us.