We Laugh and Laugh

I go see my mom at lunchtime every day, and we laugh and laugh. She has lost all her marbles and doesn’t know who I am, but I never quiz her (Alzheimer’s patients hate that) and I pay close attention to whatever she has to say, and they like that.

Lots of Alzheimer’s patients I worked with preserved their old memories, but just couldn’t form new memories. Sally lost the whole works really fast. Back in the summer of 2007 we both remarked that Barack Obama was the real deal when we met him up in Conway, New Hampshire.

Since that time, she has lost almost all her memories, old and new. When Sally, a professor of literature, could no longer recognize Shakespeare, I wondered how much further this could go, and I learned from friends that it can go much further, to the breakdown of hygiene and then toileting and then nursing home.

That’s why I count our blessings: Sally’s in her own house and still takes a bath and brushes her teeth and changes her underwear as far as I know. And she’s happy. That’s what I’m really thankful for.

I visited her today and we worked on a jigsaw puzzle and she said she had to go upstairs.

“I forgot my ring,” she said. “I was washing my hands.”

She came back down with the ring on. “Is that your wedding ring?” I asked.

“Yes. But I don’t remember…”

“Getting married?” I supplied.

“Yes,” she said.

“I’m the same way,” I said. “I go out for a couple of beers and I wake up in Shanghai with a full beard.”

By this time we’re both laughing our heads off. Somehow we get around to last night’s movie. I get the movies from the library, but my dad Bob always gets the rap. She hates them all. If there are ladies shaking their bottoms, she hates that. If there’s a lot of shooting, she hates that. She even hated ET. How cold you hate that? I thought she would love it.

And the pickings at the South Deerfield library for VCR tapes are getting a bit thin.

So Sally is talking about last night’s movie. “There were these people,” Sally says, “and they put on clothes to look like cats. It was the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

At this point we’re just about rolling on the floor laughing.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Sounds pretty funny to me.”