Monday, November 5, 2012

The top of my pointy head

Two anecdotes................

My sister chronicles my mother's decline by watching how Mummy handles communion. In the Methodist church, United Methodist in the US, we take communion on first Sundays. That means that 30 days or so elapse between experiences of the communion ritual. For Mummy, that's an eternity. Every month, the process is a little harder, the elements a little more unfamiliar.

Yesterday was first Sunday. We went through the process and it became increasingly clear to us that the world is becoming increasingly remote to her. The bread - at the old church they used wafers - she simply didn't know what to do with it; the wine, the pastor had to help her put it to her lips. It really is hard to watch.

The black and white on the status of the disease is: progressing, probably faster than we'd like.

Speaking of black and white........
The truth is that Mummy doesn't recognize us any more. The caregiver will tell her "Liesl is downstairs" and she'll respond with something akin to incredulity, "Liesl is here?". Some days, when the chaos is deeper, she'll say, "Liesl?" in a tone that suggests that the name is familiar but she doesn't quite know why. Anyway, yesterday, we went to our old church which is a predominantly African-American congregation in DC. There, anybody could be her people. People kept stopping her and speaking to her - as I marched briskly forward trying to get to my seat. On more than one occasion, I found myself having to turn back to find her, because she'd got sidetracked. One time, she was entering a room where folks were congregating because I had turned a corner and was out of sight. Any black face could be the face of someone connected to her.

Our other church, is up in Annapolis and is a predominantly White congregation. There, we are one of maybe three families of color. A few weeks ago, I realized what a good thing this was for her. There, when she looks up and sees a dark face, she simply gravitates towards it. It must be connected to her you see. How could it not? At the old church, we are just three faces among sea of unfamiliar faces. In Annapolis, there's less of a question and perhaps slightly less confusion but what do I know? I'm well past the point of knowing anything. I'm deep into 'making it up off the top of my pointy head' territory.

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