My mother who will be 89 in a few weeks has been slowly losing her cognitive abilities, not in a straight line, more like a meandering path. She has no idea what time it is, what time of day or night, which, let’s face it is a completely human invention that makes most of us crazy.
So after telling her I’d FaceTime her at 6:30, she called me on the phone at 5 pm to say she was sorry she missed my FaceTime call and could I try again? Now let’s break this down. She has no idea what time it is and cannot track it, but she can still answer a FaceTime call most of the time. That’s meandering cognitive abilities, strolling though the meadow. Also, it’s not her fault she couldn’t answer a call I didn’t make because I was on the train making my way home. To call her.
I was in the park near my house when she called, and the previous week, I had spent a good 10 minutes speaking loudly enough for all my neighbors to hear trying to set up a FaceTime call. Did I mention she has hearing aids that don’t really work? Except when you say things you don’t want her to hear. That, plus not being a fan of yelling at the top of my lungs outside, I simply yelled, “OK!” hung up and ran the last few minutes to my apartment. Her not knowing the time is a double edge sword. On the one hand, it may seem only like 30 seconds till I call, or it could seem like an hour. Even money.
As I ran, I suddenly was transported back 18 or so years ago, when I’d leave work later than I had anticipated and have to run to catch the train or bus to pick up my son from daycare. At best you pay a penalty of $5 for every minute you are late. At worst, a teacher who doesn’t know you well can tell Family Services you are a bad parent, and then you have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do Lucy.
As I ran up the last steps, burst through the door shedding my backpack, coat, and grabbing my computer glasses so I could see her, I thought about the disappointment — hers now as she waited, maybe what was to her an eternity, or my son’s many years ago, as he was the last kid to get picked up, wondering if his mother had forgotten him.
Or maybe that’s just how it feels to me, running towards people who are counting on me.
I called, a little sweaty and breathing heavily and she answered right away. “I’m sorry I missed your call, boy, what a day I’ve had!”
“Really? Tell me all about it, mom.”
At least she can’t call Family Services on me and the call is free.