Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Lost Art of Conversation

Today I had lunch with my mother.  I was going to do it yesterday, but she was asleep when I got to her apartment, so I left a note saying I would be there today.

I feel ... I dunno ... selfish, maybe? ... that I was so depressed by the time we spent together today.  She has lost the art of conversation.   I was pleased that I hadn't seen her in several days because I had lots to talk with her about ... there were my two hearing appointments, my crab lunch, lunch with Grainne and the others, reviewing Brigadoon, and working yesterday.  I tried to draw each incident out to make it sound interesting, and to fill more time and when I finished, she looked at me and said, without having made a comment on anything I'd said so far, "so what else have you been doing that's interesting?"

The thing about my mother that I noticed many years ago is that she can't let empty space stand.  Driving her to Santa Barbara, she would talk the whole way, finding little things to talk about if there was empty space.  That's 8 hours of talking.  So she hasn't lost the need to fill empty spaces by saying something, but she doesn't have anything to say any more.  She probably asked me two dozen times (at least) what exciting thing I had planned for the rest of the afternoon.

At lunch, she looked the menu over carefully and then decided on the same lunch she has every day -- vegetable soup and fruit salad.   Before the waitress arrived, she had to check the menu again so she could remember what she was going to order.  And then when the waitress came to take her order, she looked at the menu again because she couldn't remember what she had decided on.

This is all normal and I'm used to it by now because it pretty much is how we have lunch every time we get together.  But I wish I could talk to her again, and I can't.  I can, and she will respond, but there is no "communication" going on.  I notice that almost nobody comes to visit her any more.  Ed hasn't been there in a month and he used to visit her several tiems a week when she lived in Marin County -- but he's discovered what a long trip it was that I made for years.  All the family claim to love her a lot, but only one cousin visits regularly.  Her friends came once, months ago.  So if there is to be any socialization, since she won't leave her apartment to talk with anybody, it's all on me. And while I love her dearly, dear God I wish we could just once have a conversation again.  About anything.

Exciting things are coming up, though, because Jeri will be here to visit her in two weeks and Peach will be here the week after that.   She's good at faking it when new people are around, so it will be fun for me too because I won't have to carry the conversation.

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