Saturday, July 30, 2016

Where's Mom?

Just about every day, sometime in the early afternoon, my husband looks up from the 100-piece puzzle he's working on laboriously (he can still do those with 'a little help') and asks, "Where's Mom?" It's a different question than the "Mom's gone, isn't she?" he used to ask.

This is a relatively recent development. He used to ask about his mom during sundowning time in the evening, not earlier in the day. He also asks about his siblings as though they've gone out without him and are expected home any moment. Or maybe he's expecting me to say they are playing in the back yard. I think he thinks I am one of his siblings sometimes. Or some other random adult.

His mom passed away in 1973 at the age of 49. My husband was 24. Usually, I remind him that his mom is in Heaven with mine and with our dads. Sometimes, he receives this information matter of factly; other times, it makes him very sad and tears well up in his eyes. Which is interesting, because I don't recall that he allowed himself to cry at the time. And it breaks my heart to see him cry. But I digress.

Today, instead of reminding him once again that his mom is deceased, I asked him, "Where do you think she might be?"

"In Redding?" he ventured. This is the area where he grew up, but he hasn't lived there for decades.

"Oh?" I replied, "And how old are you?"

He seemed to be mulling the question over for a moment or two, and I asked again to make sure we were on the same track. He has a tendency to forget what I've said rather quickly these days; but, then, he has a tendency to forget everything rather quickly these days.

"45?" he offered tentatively.

It reminded me of a time when my dad started laughing as I mentioned my age. He said it was impossible for me to be that old, since he was younger than that himself. In fact, 45 is the number he used. He was in his early 90's. He had dementia, you see. A lot of the experiences I am now having with my husband remind me of things my dad said or did. Double your trauma, double your fun (new words to an old jingle. Hum along if you remember it).

I find it so interesting how my husband's brain hops and skips around. I thought memory would be affected chronologically, in reverse. But that doesn't seem to be how it works, necessarily. Sometimes he remembers things, most times he doesn't (even right after they happen), and lots of times the "memory" is an exercise in creative writing.

The human brain is a thing of wonder, isn't it?


  1. Usually when he tells me how old he is it's 63. Every time I'm with him he asks about where "Mom is". Most of the time I think he actually means you- like where's that maternal care giver type? I repeat the title back to him. "Mom is at work." He asks, "My mom??" No... MY mom. Chris, your wife, is at work." "MY mom??"

  2. Yes. And here there's also "Where's everybody?" By this, I'm pretty sure he usually means you kids. Or maybe his siblings. And then he becomes agitated when I tell him you're grown up and have homes of your own. Thanks for your comment!