Mom’s status has been wildly unpredictable lately as far as her speech, ability to walk even a few steps with assistance, and her capacity to feed herself. Some days she’s almost comotose, and then today she called me up (after weeks of not remembering how to use the speed dial) and wanted to discuss politics and the details of my work, more eloquent than I’ve heard her in years. It was shocking, and not as comforting as it might sound.
It’s hard to explain, but instead of being a joy, it can be deeply disturbing to have a piece of my mother that I’ve mourned and released show up again, unpredictably, in full color. The former Carol Jean who makes those appearances never lasts for more than a day, and then the mourning starts all over again. It’s a big tease, being visited by this fleeting personality, more a mirage than a recovery, taunting you into wanting to believe in its permanence.
Knowing it was a risk, I decided to throw Mom a party for her 75th birthday, hoping she’d be alert for at least part of it. As it turned out, she was quite floppy that day, barely able to hold her head up at times, pretty anxious, uninterested in talking, and I did end up needing to feed her the birthday meal and cake, but there were a few moments she was present, smiling, and enjoying the attention of the people who had gathered in her honor, which is what mattered.