Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dear Old Mum

I was over to have lunch with my mother yesterday. Dear Old Mum is doing pretty well. She is, after all, 95 years old.

I call her Dorothy (her name) more than Mother. Something that began many years ago and has now become a habit. She looks good. She’s from a generation that cares about appearances. So she always dresses nicely – clean clothes, no wrinkles, good style. And of course she goes to the beauty parlor every Thursday to get her hair done.

Dorothy is very proud of her hair. It has been a lovely silver for a long time. Maybe thinning a bit, but always neat. Sometimes she says she doesn’t feel well, but I can tell if she’s really sick by asking whether she skipped her hair appointment. Doesn’t happen often.

She lives independently in her own apartment in Baywood Court in Castro Valley, about 40 minutes from here over in the East Bay. Baywood is a Senior Citizen complex and a very nice one. I guess she’s lived there about ten years. Or maybe more. It’s been nearly ten years since my father died and he was in a nursing home for some time during his decline.

She’d remember when she moved there. Her memory for things from the past is excellent. But her memory for five minutes ago ain’t too hot. So she repeats things frequently. I just listen patiently to the repeats. There’s not much else one can do. It upsets her to realize that she doesn’t remember like she used to. And while she’s a nice old lady she has a stubborn streak that resists what she wants to resist. So she resists my suggestion that she can deal with her short-term memory loss by writing things down. She’s not going to change.

Dorothy isn’t too steady on her feet. She uses a cane most of the time, but she resists that too. My giving her a hard time about it won’t make any difference. Like I say, she’s not going to change.

But you know what? I think she’s fine just the way she is. We’re lucky she’s lived to her ripe old age and has been able to enjoy it.


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