“Wait, I have to write that down,” my mom says, during our nightly phone conversation. “Hold on.”
“Okay,” I say, trying to wait patiently while she looks for a pen.
When she gets back on the phone, she can’t remember what she wanted to write down.
My mom has been writing herself notes for a long time. Before she moved into assisted living, I would find little slips of pink paper all over her apartment. They contained random, sometimes indecipherable, messages.
“Milk. Bread. Soda.”
She never wanted me to throw any of them away.
“I might need them,” she’d say.
“Really? Do you even know who’s phone number this is?”
“I might remember one day,” she’d say, laughing. “You never know!”
But the notes are fewer these days. She’s forgetting to do the very thing that helped her remember.
“I have so many things I want to tell you,” she says. “But I keep forgetting to write them down.”
One day, about two years ago, she wrote down something she wanted to tell me. I found the crinkled little note under a magnet on her refrigerator.
It said, “Tell Beth. Miss her.”
Oh Beth – does this ever sound familiar! My mom always, always had notes lying around, and I’ve found them in all sorts of places. She can’t write anymore, but still talks about writing things down to remind her of what she wanted to tell me.
Thanks for sharing, Karen. It seems like so many people have had similar experiences with a parent who has Alzheimer’s or dementia.
That is so sweet! It sounds like you and your mom are having the same experience my mother and I did when she got dementia–all the crazy bad stuff in our relationship went away because she forgot it. A very healing time, strangely enough.
Yes, it’s true, Ilene. There is something healing about this time. My mom and I were very close when I was growing up, but it wasn’t always so good for me. I broke away to save myself. But the disease has changed some of the unhealthy parts of her personality, which has helped us to become close again.