She doesn’t like to sit the normal distance from the table. Perhaps it hurts her legs to bend them sufficiently. When the aide or I try to move her closer, she speaks sharply and resists. So each bite is a tiny drama as she moves her fork, a morsel dangling from a tine, slowly, shakily, across the broad expanse of her lap. Her average: about 75% ends up in her mouth, 25% in her lap or on the floor. It keeps us busy, the aide and me, sponging off her pants, scrubbing up the tiles. Sometimes I think it amuses her to cause these little commotions—and bring people to their knees! Other times I think she’s doing the best she can.
It’s hard to know, because her speech is murky. A stroke and dementia have turned her language into an unpredictable thing. Sometimes the words flow freely—but lead nowhere. “I have something I need to discuss with you!” she’ll say excitedly. What is it? I’ll ask. “I don’t know.” Sometimes she’ll say startling things, announcing that we’re having rabbit turds for dessert. And, rarely, her words are crystal clear: “I’m lonely.” I know, Mom. I know you’re lonely. And there’s not a thing I can do about it—except visit you, eat breakfast with you, pick up your fallen food, and share the rabbit turds.