My brother, EJ, came to visit. After a delay caused by hurricane Sandy, he finally got his trip rescheduled and came east. It was really good to see him.
On our first visit, we got to Mom's after lunchtime. She however was still at the table, now eating alone, as her neighbors had finished lunch and walkered away.
(Did I just make up a new word?
"They walkered away." You know what I mean.)
Mom was slowly finishing her meal. The aide would come over periodically to keep Mom on task, stabbing food and handing her the fork. Mom looked at the fork of food being presented to her, looked at the aide, and then looked at my brother. She began to cry, big sobs and big tears. I've never seen her cry like this. I think, Mom was deeply mortified that she was being fed like a toddler in front of her son. The aide, was quick to understand what was going on. She got cheek to cheek with Mom and whispered comforting words to her: it was alright, we all need help some times, your son understands.
Having a conversation with Mom is difficult. She gives no meaningful or appropriate responses to our questions or comments. Maybe twice in three days, she looked at EJ and gave a genuine acknowledging smile. Mostly her face is just a curious or blank expression. I interpret her expressions as: what are you people doing here, why are you talking to me, I have no idea what you're talking about, or I don't know how to respond to what you are saying.
This week is Mom and EJ's birthday. EJ asks Mom "It's my birthday this week, can you sing the happy birthday song to me?" We both start singing. Mom just looks at us with questioning crooked eyebrows. She doesn't sing a word, she's not even lip-singing or humming along.
Later, EJ tried to get her to sing, one of the favorite songs that she would teach her students, but again, she just looked at him with that questioning expression. We're singing, but she's not.
He stopped again to see her on his way to the airport. He was unsure whether he could fit in another visit with her. Then he told me, "Yes, I'm going to see Mom this morning, it could be the last time."