One of my biggest Thanksgiving blessings this year was a 10-minute phone call with my mother the day before the holiday.
It had been a couple of months since I had “visited” with Mom, who is well into the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. My brother Rodney, who orchestrates these phone calls, had tried to make it happen over several weeks, but had never caught Mom on one of her “good” days. He persevered, coordinating his visits with her best time of day, just after lunch, and on Wednesday we connected.
Hearing her voice was a comfort I needed this past week. On Monday my husband underwent a second surgery on the shoulder he had replaced a year ago, and on Tuesday my younger daughter texted to say they weren’t coming for Thanksgiving after all; the weather was just too iffy.
Phone calls with Mom are bittersweet, one-sided for the most part. I prattle on about nothing much at all, and try to make her laugh with simple jokes. I can’t ask how her day is going; she won’t remember. I can’t ask any “remember when?” questions; she won’t remember.
Mom will usually find one current thing at hand and keeping looping back to the same thought, and I let her run with it, again and again, because I just want to hear her voice. One time she kept saying she would like to have her sewing machine set up in her room. Another time she kept noting the empty bed on the other side of her room. (She’s had a couple of roommates but is oblivious to them).
On this day before Thanksgiving, she told me again and again how there was a decorated Christmas tree in the hallway near her room. She seemed to comprehend that Thanksgiving was at hand, so why was there a Christmas tree already, she wondered. I told her people nowadays often decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and she found that odd.
She also confided that she never really liked turkey all that well. This I did not know all of those years she got up early to put the “bird” in the oven.
It was an extraordinarily good day for Mom, whose short-term memory is completely gone. On this day, at the end of 10 minutes, she found the wherewithal to wish me and my family a happy Thanksgiving.
Afterward, Rodney texted me, saying “That went great! She smiled almost the whole time.” Then he texted a short video of Mom sitting in her wheelchair by the Christmas tree, waving and saying “hi.” It was all I needed to remember how blessed I am.
News Editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or email@example.com.