After five hours of confusion and agitation, my little mama is cozy in her purple kitty pajamas, tucked safely into bed next to her T.T. Tiger stuffed animal. Smelling sweetly of orange blossom lotion after her nightly foot massage, she reaches for my hand and thanks me for all I do for her.
I apply her favorite face cream, kiss her head and bend close, asking if she wants to say her prayers. I know the routine well. This nightly dance of ours is well choreographed, well rehearsed. I know my part. For my mom, what once was old, is new again.
My mom cannot remember where we ate lunch, that she had lemon meringue pie for dessert or that we sat in the sun this afternoon and watched honeybees dance around spring’s first daffodils.
My mom does not know where she lives now.
Returning from an outing, she becomes confused.
This house of ours on a busy street is not a place her cloudy mind can place. Although she has lived here for 18 months, my mom does not recognize this house among the houses of her past, the homes of her heart.
Home for my mom may be somewhere in her mind, a place offering quiet, comfort and safety from dark corners and scary shadows.
When my mom asks me to take her home, I know she is scared.
Like a small child, she is afraid of the dark and monsters in the closet.
It’s my job, my blessing, to calm her fears, hold her a little tighter, have a little more patience; keep the monsters at bay.
I tuck the blanket around my mom, hold her hand, and together, we recite The Lord’s Prayer.
My mom’s voice does not falter. She does not hesitate.
She does not forget. She remembers every word.
Every. Single. Word.
“I love you, Bear.”
“I love you, too, mama.”
For tonight, it is enough.
Barrie Page Hill, an Arlington-based freelance writer, is primary caregiver for her mom who suffers from congestive heart failure and Alzheimer’s Disease. Hill lives with her husband, mom and a cadre of rescue animals and works as an academic adviser at The University of Texas at Arlington.