Saturday, February 18, 2017

On a Good Day

My mother truly lives in the moment. 
Due to a tragic head injury, a decade ago, my mother (who is 91) has short-term memory issues.  She remembers trivial things for about ten minutes and, on a good day, things she is interested in may actually stay fixed for an hour or more.     

On Thursday, we attended the funeral of a lady that was both one of Mom’s friends and the mother-in-law of one her daughters.  This dear lady who our family has always referred to as Mama San was a very large lady and responsible for many stories and comic moments in our lives.  She was seven years younger than my mother. 

My dear mother had to suffer through learning about Mama Shan’s death several dozen times over the days leading up to the funeral because she would forget the information a short time after hearing it.  Each time she overheard the plans being made or a visitor stopping by to offer condolences to my brother-in-law and his family, who were all gathered at my sister’s house, it was as if it was the first time she had been told of Mama San’s death. 

Since extended family members were staying through the weekend, at my sister’s home, and Mama San was the main topic of discussion I went over to take my mother out for a while to save her having to continually relive news of her death.  It turned out that yesterday was one of her good days. 

After taking her to a standing hair appointment I decided to take her to a small family owned eatery for lunch.  I knew they served her two favorite foods.   French onion soup and Chocolate milkshakes.  Usually, this would be a short lunch with little conversation but yesterday, being a good day, my mother was upset and talkative.  Mom kept asking why God was keeping her here and would take someone like Mama Shan.  Mom felt that she had become a useless bother to her thirteen children and their families.  She kept telling me how she appreciated all we do for her but she was just someone who had to be watched over and toted around like an infant so why was she still here. 

I couldn’t answer those questions with anything but platitudes, at the time, so I decided to try and change the subject.  I started to ask her about things from my childhood that I wanted to clarify for the book I’m attempting to write.  That went pretty well and before long I realized that we had finished our meal and been occupying our table much longer than we should have; but, my mother did not want to leave.  Given there were a few empty tables and no waiting I agreed to stay a while longer.  Suddenly, the conversation turned dark and Mom began to cry.   She asked me “Why did I ever marry a man that was so mean to you kids.”  

That was certainly not a conversation I wanted overheard by everyone in the tiny restaurant so I insisted it was time to leave.   By the time we were settled into the car the good day had vanished and my mother was back to asking where we were and why she was with me.  And, I’m sure that my sister will be explaining Mama Shan’s death repeatedly for the next several days. 

As for me, the memories of yesterday have not left my mind.  That final question, along with a few others, kept me awake for hours last night and had me hiding tears from my dear husband


  1. That is the saddest part of memory loss, isn't it? Sending you a huge virtual hug!!

  2. Oh! What a difficult day. Even tho' I've never had occasion to walk your walk, I'm glad you've shared these moments with those of us who care (so much!) for you. Hugs!