"Just roll with it" became my mantra that day. The only remedy for the situation was just rollin' with it. It started about a month ago.
"When are you going to take my Christmas picture?" "Um, Mom, it's only April. We have lots of time before we even have to think about Christmas!" Two-minute reverie with eyes half-closed, then... "When are you going to take my Christmas picture?" And so on. And so on. And so on. Finally, I decided to give her a concrete, set-in-stone answer. "How about next Tuesday?!" (It was just a random day pulled out of my weary brain.) "Next Tuesday What's today?" "Thursday. Picture day is next Tuesday at 3PM!" (Random time. I resist the temptation of telling her how many "sleeps" there are until Picture Day.) "Good." Reverie...reverie...reverie...then... "Will you bring me something red to wear?" This Christmas card picture has been a nagging item on my Spring/Summer to do list for the past several years. Come the warmth and green of Spring, Meems directs the whole of her being towards checking "Christmas card" off of her very short list of to-dos. So, on National Christmas Card Picture Day (which happened to fall on a Tuesday this year), I gathered up some colorful pashminas and headed over to see Mom. She was dressed in a Springy blue ensemble that wasn't Christmasy at all. Instead of struggling to change her clothes, I decided that I would just cover her up with a classic Chico's black and white giraffe print jacket. The boat neck top that she was wearing kept trying to peek out of the jacket, so I cinched up her collar with a purple pashmina. "Shouldn't I be wearing red?" "Mom, it's a proven fact that purple is way more flattering than red. It brings out the pink of your sweet cheeks!" "Oh." With the scarf and jacket carefully arranged, I then went in search of a Christmasy background. Seeing none, I wheeled Meems outside in hopes of getting, at the very least, a green background. A lot of squinting and clamoring began. "I'm hot." "Hang on, Mom! I've almost got it!" (Not true. The shot was just not working on any level.) "I'm hot." I quickly rolled her back into the building where the temperature was about 3 degrees cooler - the place of "I'm cold." The assisted living center is undergoing renovations, so there was absolutely no picturesque background to be found. Before declaring total defeat, I backed her wheelchair up to a blank wall and began snapping away. It was then that I realized that the object of the game was to pacify Mom so that she wouldn't fret about being behind on her yuletide preparations. "Oh, that was a cute one! Open your eyes really big and smile with your teeth! Got it!" Meems was pacified. I told her that I may get Kelly, my niece, to do another photo shoot because she's a way better photographer than me.
"OK." And, not another word since. Day by day I'm learning how to help my motherchild cope with dementia. Explaining and re-explaining doesn't help. I have blocked the words "I JUST TOLD YOU..." and "DON'T YOU REMEMBER..." from the love language that I speak to my mother. At the ripe old age of 60, I myself experience those phrases more and more often. Help me, Jesus! If I'm repeating a question, that means the information no longer exists on my "hard drive." Roll with it, people! Her parting words to me that afternoon were "Be watching the sales so you can get yourself something nice for Christmas." Yes, I have a persistent twitch in my left eye. Funny thing. If I do buy my gift on sale tomorrow, I will be totally surprised when I unwrap it Christmas morning. "I love it! A blouse! And, such Springy colors!"