56: Laughing with Mom

56: Laughing with Mom

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers

Laughing with Mom

The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.

~e.e. cummings

After my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I learned how exhausting it is to care for someone with this disease. What keeps me going are the funny moments that occur because of my mother’s memory loss and confusion.

Yesterday, she said, “I dreamed you had a dog.”

I asked, “What kind?”

She said, “A shepherd.”

“Oh, a German shepherd?”

She said, “I don’t know if he was a German or not.”

When Mom doesn’t remember a word, she substitutes another one, often with humorous results. She wants to say “education,” but instead she will say “constipation.” She creates new songs by changing the lyrics. “I Believe I Can Fly” becomes “I Can Fly Like a Pigeon.”

Once I said, “Sit down. I want to take your blood pressure.”

She said, “I can’t. I have too much toxic energy.”

Mom has some unusual ideas. To her, it seems like a good idea to wear your nightgown over your clothes if you feel cold. Lately, she’s been watching a lot of John Wayne movies. She told me she loved John Wayne and wanted to marry him. I made the mistake of telling her he was dead. After she recovered from the news, she decided she’d like to be buried with him.

Every day holds a surprise for my mother. When I took her to a podiatrist to clip her toenails, she was amazed. She said, “I remember when people did this themselves.”

Sometimes, my mother’s faulty perceptions are flattering. When I made her a sandwich, she thought I was a genius. She looked at the sandwich as if it was a gourmet meal. “Where did you learn to cook like that?”

I said, “From you.”

Mom shook her head. “No, I never made that.”

Mom also thinks I’m 30 years younger than I am. She tells me not to worry. She says I’ll meet someone soon and get married. She’s forgotten I’ve already been married twice.

I don’t know what my mother will say or do today. I hope it makes us laugh. Any day we can laugh together is a good day.

~Laura Boldin-Fournier

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