It’s a busy time for me, so I haven’t written a blog post for weeks. I’ve been doing lots of writing, developing learning programs and leading an event committee for a fundraiser. Something happened yesterday that drove me crazy and then later brought me laughter and release, and I’d like to share that!
I started the day early at my desk feeling quite groggy and blocked up with a head cold. I was focussed on getting part of a project finished before I went out, but became really consumed by what I was doing and then suddenly realised I was late! Well, I wasn’t late yet, but because I was still at my desk, it wasn’t an ideal situation. Let me explain…
My task was to pick up my dearly demented mother and take her to an optometrist appointment. Normally I would arrive 30 minutes before ‘departure time’ as she is disorganised and very slow moving. Luckily for me today, the staff had done a brilliant job and she was ready to go with her warm coat and lipstick on, a hand-bag full of things she didn’t need, and a room key that in the end we couldn’t find! All good, great start, I thought.
We hobbled to the car, and headed off. By the time we got to the end of the driveway, mum had started telling me a story about Emma, one of her housemates. Emma had apparently asked mum to go to the Post Office for her. Which mum did, she said. She had some sort of parcel to post, and so, she did that, she thought. But something else was offered to her at the counter. A special deal or something… and anyway (that’s what mum says every time she loses track of where she is ‘up to’), she started the story again. “I must tell you about something that has happened with Emma…” The story was begun again, re-started, re-interpreted, re-initiated over and over as though she hadn’t ever mentioned Emma before. By the time we got to our appointment some 30 minutes later, Emma’s name was Anna, and she had also collected someone else’s mail to give to Anna and Anna was furious about that. Oh, she had also run out of money to pay for the item she was posting because of the free special offer which turned out not to be so free!
I have to say that I was confused as 1. Mum has no means of getting to the post office and 2. I’m fairly confident Emma would not ask mum to be the delivery girl! What I’ve learned about her condition, however, is that there is usually something in real life that triggers the creation of such an elaborate tale.
So when I bought mum back at lunch-time (having listened to the same ‘new’ story for another 30 minutes) I discovered that mum had a book she was trying to return to Emma that she didn’t own, however, mum kept popping back with it during the day and in the end Emma had to say a little more forcefully, “Really Yvonne, let’s just forget about the book!”.
Emma also shared with me that about the same time she had given mum a new packet of ear plugs because she was having trouble sleeping. Of course, she then lost the ear plugs in her room and spent a lot of time looking for those. Mum hadn’t mentioned this to me at all, however, Emma had said “Lisa, do you think you can be a darling and buy 4 or 5 new packets of ear plugs so that when mum is looking for them she will find them and be able to sleep; that other woman makes the most incredible noises – I stayed up til 2 am one night just to see if your mother was telling me the truth!”
Last night I was re-telling this story to my husband, and in the debrief I realised the post office analogy related to her trying to give a book back to Emma and the free gift offer at the counter was probably triggered by receiving the gift of ear plugs. We laughed and shared how strange and funny this all was. I’m proud that I have the stamina to listen patiently to mum (well most of the time!) and that the communication blues don’t hang around for too long anymore!