I went to visit Mom yesterday. Every Wednesday I try to bring her lunch and I visit for a couple of hours. It isn't easy. Mom has three strikes against her. Her memory is failing, she is hard of hearing, and when you're stuck in your house twenty four/seven, you don't have much new stuff to talk about. Getting two hours of conversation out of that is difficult, like pulling your car out of a ditch when it's hub deep in mud. That's why I prefer it when Mark goes out there with me. Mark has some good stories and even if Mom has heard them before, they make her laugh. It takes the pressure off trying to come up with fresh things to talk about. Unfortunately, Mark wasn't feeling his best yesterday and most of the conversation fell on me. So the rules of talking to Lila are this. Talk loudly and slowly, being very clear, and keep it relatively simple because too many words seem to get all jangled up in her ears. I can tell when Mom isn't hearing all that I am saying. She gets this little smile on her face. It's her way of pretending that she is hearing everything. A little smile, a bit of a nod, and I know I'm not being clear. Not at all like when I was a kid. Back then Mom could hear a mosquito fart. You would be in the kitchen trying to sneak a cookie and before you could get your hand out of the box, there was Mom at the kitchen door. And then there is the problem of my mom's memory. Yesterday I was telling Mark about my Aunt Mary's wall of birds and Mom disagreed.
"Oh no, Mary didn't have a wall of birds. Maybe one or two bird cages, but not a wall full."
"No Ma, I remember. In the dining room, between the piano and the buffet. Mary had a whole bunch of bird cages full of canaries. A wall of birds."
"Oh I don't remember that." And then Mom gave me that little smile.
Which makes me think that maybe the little smile isn't about not hearing me. Maybe Mom simply gives you that little smile (smirk?) when she doesn't want to call you an idiot to your face.
So yesterday was a bit of a challenge. Mom wasn't feeling very talkative, Mark was looking at his iPhone more than he was talking, and I had very little to say. About the only story that got any traction was when I told Mom about the bird that flew into my forehead the day before. I was standing in the gangway between our house and the neighbor's when I saw it coming straight at me. Surely it will veer off I thought. No, it hit me square in the forehead. Didn't even stop, but fluttered a bit as it caught itself in midair and continued on. But it made Mom laugh and I realized, I need to plan the afternoon's entertainment before I arrive. So next week I'll have a whole multi-faceted presentation for her. I'll make her a video to watch, take some photos that she might find entertaining, and I'll print out the little stories that I wrote that week. Of course, not this one. I won't show her this one. I just couldn't stand seeing that little 'my son is an idiot' smile on her face.