“Yuck … men!” said my mom more times than I can count, from my teenage years until about three years ago.
My mom wasn’t happy with my dad, who was her husband for over 35 years. When they divorced more than 20 years ago, she was happier than I’d ever seen her.
“I don’t ever want another man,” she’d say. But these days with Alzheimer’s, she’s changing her tune.
She can’t seem to get enough of Kenneth. In the infrequent moments when they’re not glued together, other residents ask, “Where’s your husband?”
But it isn’t just Kenneth. She has something to say to the other men she encounters as well. On our way to her room so she can change her pants (which she’s put on backwards), she leads me past her doorway so she can “say hello to my friend,” a bald man in a wheelchair. She can’t even communicate with this guy, who speaks only Spanish, but that doesn’t stop her.
“Hi!” she says, leaning over him, patting his hand. “Did you eat?”
He’s not ready to eat because he wants to stay near his room and listen to his music. He tells her this in Spanish, and I translate.
“You need to go eat!” she persists, stroking his shoulder, smiling widely. He returns the smile.
Seeing I understand a bit of Spanish, the guy says a few words to me. He says he knows my mom has a “novio” already, and that the man is “muy rico,” as Kenneth has obviously made it clear to all that he’s a successful businessman. Everyone remembers Kenneth, it seems. That is, everyone but my mom, who in the presence of another man, has forgotten all about him.
But even men who aren’t present have become a preoccupation for my mom. When seeing a woman she dislikes, someone who periodically tells people loudly to fuck themselves, she makes a point of saying she doesn’t like the lady.
“But boy does she have a cute son!” she adds, leading me to wonder who has taken over my mom’s body, and what have they done with her?
The last time I took my mom downstairs to attend the weekly Sunday concert was several weeks ago, before she and Kenneth were an item. A couple hundred people attend those concerts, and it’s often hard for her to pick out people she knows. She didn’t recognize her own roommate, who was sitting in the row behind us. Yet she noticed a man from the unit, one she’d called “cute” several weeks before, who was on the other side of the very large room.
“I know him,” she said. “We work together. Let’s go talk to him.”
“Hi,” she said, taking his hand. “So you didn’t go to work today, either?”
If things don’t work out with Kenneth, I have a feeling my mom won’t be alone for long.
Oh, Alzheimer’s, if you can turn my mom from a manhater into a shameless flirt, what else do you have in store for us?