Please Pass the Salt


Please Pass the Salt


armor-211232_640Yesterday I called to wish my Mom a Happy Mother's day (she's back home now) and let her know I'd be by the next day -- today -- to bring her the small gift we'd gotten for her. She predictably launched into a blow-by-blow description of her latest adventure in Hospital-Land. When I could get a word in edgewise, I asked how Dad was faring.

And got a harrowing account of how he himself was practically at death's door, the doctors wanted to hospitalize them both, how he's been ill for months now, how could I not have known? What's wrong with me, anyway?

When I got off the phone, I resolved to have a serious, one-to-one talk with my dad. Which is what happened this morning. He looked a bit tired, just as I myself do these days. But otherwise okay. I asked him, what's going on? Mom told me you've been really unwell. I'm fine, he said. Well that's not what she told me, I replied.

A strange, indecipherable expression crossed his face, he blew out his cheeks, and said, Honey, these days you gotta take what your Mom says with a grain of salt.

A grain?!? How about a five-pound sack?

I took Mom her gift, and visited a few minutes. And took my leave. She was acting perfectly fine this time, lucid, normal, calm. No mention of  Dad's imminent doom. I kissed her and Dad goodbye, and drove back home. Feeling a rage like nothing I've ever known.

How could she?!? Knowing how worried and upset I'd be? Has she really gone back to her horrible, cruel ways of talking to me? Just when I'd begun to feel actually a little bit grateful, that her dementia has been a sort of happy, dreamy trip through La-La Land, only occasionally venturing into violent psychosis?

And then it hit me. I really, really should have known better. I spent so very many years not believing hardly a thing she said -- I'd trained myself to do it,  a self-defense measure against her verbal poison.

Somehow,  I had let that slip, it was no longer automatic.

This, I really do believe, is one more manifestation of her dementia. Only with this, she looks and sounds perfectly lucid and reasonable.

And now, I realize I must never leave either of my kids alone with her, not ever again.

And I will go back to the way I used to relate to her. I'll be polite, and friendly, even loving when I can. But I will wear that suit of invisible armor once more. I won't remove it again while she yet lives.