She is disappearing, large clumps of her are falling away, not in the physical but in the cerebral.
When my sons were little and they would come home from school having learned something new, they were so excited. They were little knowledge sponges. "I know all 50 state capitals, want to hear me?" "Did you know that there use to be snow a mile deep right here over our house?" "I learned this new song on my guitar, listen."
It is like the opposite is happening with my Mother. Her knowledge sponge is drying out. Clumps of knowledge are no longer there. Two years ago it was buttons, phones, and remote controls. Last year it was driving. This spring it was the time of day and dates.
Now, it is jigsaw puzzles. I know you may think it's a small thing, to not be able to put a jigsaw puzzle together. I think it is really telling. I remember my little boys, very little boys, learning to put together puzzles. You could see their brains working, their eyes jumping around, taking in everything: the color, the size, the shape of the piece, the relationship to others around it; the joy when one piece connected with another.
It is the opposite with my Mother. We went from 1000 piece puzzles, to 750, to 500, to 100. She no longer can methodically do a puzzle: put the flat sided edge pieces together, take out the red pieces that make up the "barn", gather the purple "flowers" together, put together these pieces with the letters and words. She makes up excuses: the pieces are too small, they are all shaped alike, there is too much sky, they fall off the table...
Mom is a puzzle, she is Humpty Dumpty, and no one can put her back together again.