Friday, August 28, 2009


Part 4 In A Series

All my life I've come up with nicknames for people — mostly for those who I don't know their real names. For instance, an irritating woman that used to work with me was known as Douchelina.

There are a number of characters at my mother's assisted care facility. Today I will tell you about Socks.

Socks is forever shoeless. I'm sure she has shoes but apparently prefers not to wear them. She enjoys the courtyard where my Mom likes to sit in the swings but she always sits in a stationary chair in the shade. I spend a lot of time on the swing with Mother Dear so I see Socks all the time. We smile, nod, and say 'hello' to each other. Her white sweat socks have tan bottoms from the dirt and bits of leaves picked up from the cement patio.

I'd estimate that Socks is about three years behind my mother in terms of her ability to remember. She struck up a long conversation with me and she remembered everything about her past and about the current status of her son and her grandchildren. She told me she'd been there for six months after moving from South Carolina, her son's job, and how her grandchildren were in college while working and getting scholarships to pay for it. She talked about her taxes and how selling her house impacted her deductions, and that she missed having the property but not the upkeep.

Yet, she asked me at least five times in the span of 20 minutes if I was my mother's only son. Each time I answered a different way to see if I could get the information to stick with her. But it didn't. Her immediate short-term memory is shot and that really is the beginning.

I felt sorry for her, my Mom, and all the residents when she told me, "This is a really lonely place."

Also see:
Part 1: The Klepto
Part 2: The Slapper
Part 3: The Baby Mama
Part 5: The Jackrabbit
Part 6: Gidget
Part 7: Twinkle Toes
Part 8: Pittsburgh and Tex
Part 9: The Bird Flicker
Part 10: The Imp, The Lesbian Haircut, and The Bitch
Part 11: The Bugaboo


Greg said...

There's a "Socks" at my Mum's place, too. When I first met her, I took her to be a visitor or one of the care staff. She was well-groomed and articulate and it was only after talking for 30 minutes or so that I realised that her conversation was cycling around to the same subjects repeatedly. Oddly enough, though my Mum's dementia seemed worse back then, this woman has declined far more rapidly while Mum persists serenely at the same level of mild bafflement. Brit Socks (as I'll call her) lost her spatial awareness and couldn't find her way around or see her plate on the dinner table. She was always in Mum's room, using her facilities. She stopped caring for herself and reverted to a child's persona, that of a little girl sent away by her parents during wartime. Nowadays she tears up, referring darkly to something unspeakable that's just happened to her - it's always just happened to her and she'll never tell me what's wrong.

She hangs on Mum as her best friend and Mum is gracious enough to play along. I think Mum has been surviving without short-term memories for so long now that she skillfully plays whatever hand is laid out before her.

Anonymous said...

Great writing -- I love this series of posts! Thanks for sharing -- helps me to understand my mom better. D

A Single Man said...

It's sad that people are in a lonely place, especially since there are people all around. Maybe she means that it just feels lonely since so few are actually home.