• Lisa

home is where you find it

This morning I put a roast in the crock pot. Mom never used a crock pot when I was growing up; she cooked a roast the old-fashioned way, browning it in the oven, then covering it and cooking it for a couple of hours. Daddy was a serious meat and potatoes kind of guy, so I imagine the recipes that were au courant for crock pots when I was young weren’t things he would have liked to eat. Hence, no crock pot.

Me, I don’t know how I ever got by without one. I love the thing. Dump the roast in with the assorted accompaniments and leave it alone for eight hours, and that sucker is falling apart tender. Mom loves it. She was really looking forward to having it for supper this evening. Except that by the time it was ready, she had forgotten who I was, as well as who bought the roast and put it on to cook.

Over the past weeks, she’s had these spells of wanting to go home. She can’t say where home is (which makes it sort of amusing, in a black way, when she threatens to call a cab—like, where is she going to tell them to drive her?) other than it’s in the suburb where she lived from her teens til she got married, and where my grandparents lived until they both passed on. It’s by turns annoying and pitiful.

A couple of weekends ago, though, it seems she actually hit on something. I was balancing her checkbook, and trying to keep her from getting it and her pill schedule confused, and she wanted me to read the address on the checks. I did and explained it was where we were, that it was my house where she and I live. A small light seemed to come on, and she asked if we could go outside and look at the house. I walked her out into the driveway, and she looked at the front and the number and said, “Yes. Yes, this is the house I remember. It’s different.”

Now that might sound bad, but on the contrary, it was great. On the day I first saw my house, the real estate guy took mom and me to look at several. Every last one of them looked just the same, brick cookie-cutter houses. Then we pulled up to this one and it was…different! Which is why I loved it and bought it. (one reason, anyway. The floor to ceiling bookshelves in the living room really sealed the deal.)

Turns out this subdivision was once a dairy farm, and this house was the farmhouse. The front part was built in 1942; the back was built on in the 90s by the composer who I bought it from. Mom said, “All these other houses are orange (meaning brick, of course) but this one is stone, it’s grey. That’s how I know it. All the others look alike, except the one down there.” She pointed toward the end of the street and I just squealed, because she was right. The only other building on this street that was part of the original farm is at that end; it is also grey, and was built by the farmer for his unmarried sister. I was amazed she remembered that!

Periodically since that afternoon, mom has asked to go out and look at the house, as if she is trying as best she can to orient herself; and she has been better at remembering she is home. That doesn’t always extend to remembering who I am, though. I manage to be the duck, most of the time. I roll my eyes and go “MOTHER”, and let it go, while she grumbles and gripes and calls me names. It has occurred to me that after she passed on, and has her full sense back, she may feel bad for treating me the way she sometimes does. So I’ve told her not to, and hope she does recall that, one day.

As I write, she is calling my cell phone over and over and leaving pleas for Lisa to come and help her. I’m sitting right next to her, of course. She generally calls me Lisa, but I’m A Lisa, not THE Lisa, much of the time. She just called me by my cousin’s name, but then she said she’d like it if we could go get some ice cream. (It’s 39 degrees out, but that’s never stopped either of us where ice cream is concerned, LOL) When she gets off the toilet, I guess that’s where we will go. (Just to prove she isn’t stupid, she just asked which was cheaper, Sonic or Dairy Queen. Hehe!)

Oh, and she did enjoy the roast, even though she cussed me for saying I cooked it, and swore up and down her sister did. Whatever. Off to get ice cream. When we are done, I’ll say, “Okay, let’s head home.” And hopefully, when we pull into the driveway, she will look up and say again, “Yes, I know this place. This is our little house. This is our home.” For some reason, that seems far more important to me sometimes than even her knowing who I am.

#food #dementia #caregiver

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