Hello, Hello, Are You There? Old Friends.


Mom and childhood friend

Although, Mom hasn’t seen Noreen for more years than I can count, I consider her one of her best friends. Noreen is someone with whom she worked with back in the good ole’ days in Manhattan. When Mom still had her head, she told me that she had actually hired Noreen back in the day and they went on to become close friends. Noreen lives in Texas with her son and to this day calls her every single weekend to touch base and chat. She calls even though she knows that sometimes Mom doesn’t remember who she is, and sometimes doesn’t make sense when she talks. She calls because she knows that being remembered and getting mental stimulation about the past is an important therapy in a dementia patient’s life. She’s not coming from an ego place where Mom must remember her or else she won’t call anymore, no, she’s coming from a place of compassion and love for her friend, no matter what the circumstances are. I’d call that pretty special.

Today, Noreen called, I picked up the phone and looked at the caller ID, and sure enough, a call from Texas. I head towards my mother’s room hoping that today she will remember how to answer the phone. I enter her room and I see her holding her teacup, bending over it saying repeatedly, “hello, hello, are you there?” I answered the phone so as not to lose Noreen’s call, we chatted for a moment, and then I put Mom on after taking the teacup from her. I literally stood there with my mouth open for a minute or two in disbelief. Even knowing and experiencing all that I do with Mom, when she does things like that, without a clue that what she was doing was totally demented, takes me off guard. She had absolutely no idea that that teacup was not the telephone. Someone in my position has to wonder how this can happen, how can it be possible?

It’s times like that when I know we are losing the battle, not the war as of yet, but the battle is definitely heading downhill. Even so,she’s having a good day, chatting in her own language, well mostly listening as Noreen is a good talker and keeps the conversation going while remembering the past times at the office. Mom is listening carefully not to miss a line and as always, very happy and grateful that someone has remembered her and would care to call her at all. It’s a hard thing for someone her age because even though she can’t retain much, when in the moment, she remembers that she has seen what little friends she’s had, die off from either disease or old age, leaving her feeling very alone and isolated from her own kind. You probably are thinking that I  say that like she is a different species from a different planet, but in a way, she is in a category of her own. In her own tribe so to speak.

With that said, I sit here writing this post, thankful for good and loyal friends, hoping that someday I will have that one good friend who won’t give up on me. Meanwhile, Mom is enjoying her Sunday afternoon listening to Pavaratti.

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