Mom, for as long as I can remember, has had a weird time with words. She often, as I find in my own later years, probably wrestled with the hormone thing for a long time. But she would just wave her hand and say “wait a minute, wait a minute ” and then get right on track. A few years ago, as my dad ran sliding into his grave, she had a stroke, something that is common in our family. Our heads just blow up. My sister has lived through three aneurisms. I have had cousins drop from strokes. My Grandpa had at least 4 that we knew of. So mom’s stroke and TIA’s are just what happens. The fact that the Alzheimer’s has added the layer of dimensia is just the frosting on the cake.
As I visit her and she struggles with the words, I notice the communication is still clear. It may be from years and years of my Grandfather’s funny horseplay with words. Mom always told the story of how he called meringue “Maren-Gooey”, so much so that Grandma actually asked for a piece of “Maren-Gooey” pie at a restaurant and turned beet red. We all play with words. When Mom called a spoon a porpoise, I just figured it was regular Mom stuff.
Now I know better. But the communication is still there. The language of laughter and smiles and funny faces and hand signals and funny nonsense syllables that were already part of the vocabulary of our nutty family. The way we always used words in illicit ways, to bring so many more layers to our language.
So sure, where before my mom would touch my hair and tell me it was amazing, she now touches me in the same gentle way and says “your head is Amizible”. But I know that she means my hair is amazing, cause my mom always said that, the inflection is the same. The letters may be scrambled but the intention is there and it is an Amizible thing.
P.S. Mom died from Alzheimer’s on October 9, 2011 at 9:25pm in San Fernando, California. She is survived by her two daughters, and a little brown chihuahua.