Ya Gotta Laugh… THE DELIGHTS OF DEMENTIA

building
April 1, 2020
My mother, Trudy, resides at one of the hardest hit Care Facilities in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. She’s been in lock down for two weeks, which means no visitors allowed including family members.

There’s only been one day of panic so far, and that was when more than 24 hours passed without a return call to me from the nursing staff to update me on my mother’s condition. She has not tested positive, but she is 90 years old. And did I mention that she has been smoking cigarettes steady for 75 years?

The slack in communication uprooted my sense of denial enough that I conspired to come up with a plan to see her, despite the draconian and perhaps necessary State of Emergency regulations. I did say the word, denial, didn’t I?

When I called the following day, to request talking to my mother on the phone, I asked if I could at least wave to her from outside. There was a pause and then Kate said, why not?

Arriving an hour later I waited outside the front of the building. The very handsome GQ coiffed receptionist Rob came out to ask if I was waiting for someone. I told him the story. He laughed. “You look good by the way,” he said. “It’s isolating and drinking!” He laughed with approval even harder.

My flip top (yes, a flip top) cell phone rang and it was Kate, asking if I was there. I said I was - in the front entrance outside waiting to wave to mom - maybe I would even smooch her a kiss through the glass.

She laughed, no, she said, I meant she could wave to you from her room! How was she doing i wanted to know. “She’s still sassy, and she thinks you are in China for some reason.” Yeh. Ok.

I walked to Bute at Haro looking up to the 3rd floor. And there was Trudy, a speck against the granite. I am shouting into the phone. (Why, I don’t know) How are you, mom? She was waving frantically. No, mom, you have to speak into the phone… yeh… can you hear me….?

“When did you get back from China?” she asked.
“I’m not in China, mom. How are you?”
A few minutes later, she said, “When are you going to China?”
Mom, I’m not going to China. I’m going to be right here.

Again she started waving. Although I couldn’t really see her very well, her indomitable spirit was like a flare flashing far and high.

I started laughing as I said, “…no you have to speak into the phone and stop waving…”

I wish I could have brought her some of the banana bread I baked the other day. I was thinking as I waved goodbye, that making banana bread was my mother’s ritual when I was growing up. Funny, the things you do subconsciously….as you are screaming into a cell phone looking up at someone in a building waving back.

Covid-19: We’ve all got to find a way to get through.

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