clutter: (klŭt’ər) n. A confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble: sorted through the clutter in the attic. 1. A confused noise; a clatter. Probably from Middle English cloteren, to clot, from clot,lump, from Old English clott.
I find this definition (taken from freedictionary.com) shortly after getting off the phone with my mom’s nurse. “No”, she says, “there’s nothing here that says she has dementia, just significant memory loss.”
I already know that. I sit across the table from my mom at a Vietnamese family style restaurant and we order. Apparently my soup was already done, because it was immediately rushed to my table. My mom’s food would take some time and preparation and during the time between ordering her dish and the time it comes, my mom will keep forgetting that she ordered.
She scowls at the waiter, asking him where her food is. He assures her it’s on the way. A minute goes by and she holds up her bubble tea and yells out, “Is this all I ordered? Is this all your bringing me?” They ignore her and I explain again that her food is coming. She picks at the garnishes for my soup, which consists of bean sprouts, stalks of basil and slices of jalapeno peppers and asks, “Is that my food? Is this what I ordered?”
“No mom, you got something else.”
“Did they forget about me?”
“No mom, your food just takes longer, do you want some of mine?”
She crumples her face and shakes her head ‘no’.
A few minutes go by and she waves for the waiter’s attention. I’m not angry with her, but I panic. I am upset to see my mom this way and tell her forcefully, so maybe she’ll remember, “Mom! You ordered! You just keep forgetting.” Her face falls. The waiter touches my arm and makes a “Shushhh-shushh-shushh” sound and whispers, “It’s ok.” He goes and grabs a bowl of shredded carrots submersed in some sauce and puts it in front of her. A tactic that worked. Something to eat while she waits. A make-believe food until her real food comes. Had he dealt with this situation before? He must’ve. I feel touched that someone could see and understand. He appeased my mom and her demands the rest of our time there. My mom tells me to take the hoisin sauce and put it in my purse, “They’ll never know”, she says as she points at the Lazy Susan and all it’s colorful condiments. I refuse to do so and she laughs.
Something might have taken a pounding at my mom’s memory, but it didn’t effect her humor. I brought her to my Qi Gong class and the instructor asked me to introduce my guest. Before I could do so, she blurted out, “I’m her sister! Her younger one!” I never heard the class laugh as hard as they did.
Mom lives an hour and a half away, so it’s hard for me to get there very often. I went down for what was supposed to be a quick visit last Tuesday, but saw her in her dark house and didn’t want to leave her. I packed her bag and Chihuahua (named Dominica) and took them back with me. They’ll camp on a blow up bed in the living room for a week and wake up at three and have early morning conversations that will wake me and Bill. Dominica does not know how to whisper.
Last night, my friend Lisa came over. She’s another ClutterHeart, over to show off her newest finds. We played dress up with her new clothes in front of the mirror by the blow up bed. Bill was practicing for a show in the kitchen with his guitar. All of a sudden, Lisa and my mom went running off into the kitchen in their dress up clothes and began to dance. That was the first time I ever saw my mom dance. I didn’t know what to make of it. She was head-banging by the refrigerator. I was stressed from the day’s worry over mortality and everyone was dancing. My mom tried to get me to dance. I couldn’t. Didn’t they know what was going on? My mom is losing her mind and they are dancing. I felt alone. They were oblivious. They were so happy.
When the party ended and Lisa went home, my mom kept saying how fun it was. She forgot what she ordered for lunch, but she’ll never forget the dance party in the kitchen.