April 27-May 5, 2006: A Trip to Florida
March 23-31, 2006: A Trip to Florida
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April 7-10, 2006
My Sister Judy Visits Dallas

 

 

I have been after my sister for quite a long time to come and visit her mother as frequently as she can. She has a standing offer of a ticket out here any time she wants to come. But her activities and responsibilities in Elon usually seem to get in the way. She has finally been able to free up a weekend, and I was happy about that. So, I picked up my sister at DFW Airport on Friday morning, April 7th.


Since it was almost lunchtime at the Bentley Manor, we drove straight there from the airport. Mom was still in her room, so Judy helped her to get a sweater on, and they greeted each other in the room and began a conversation.

 


About a quarter to twelve, we took mother to the dining room, and she and Judy continued their conversation. You can see a film of them talking using the player at right. I think that Judy was chagrined to find out how much her mother had gone downhill mentally since the last time she was here almost a year ago.

Conversation with my Mom has gotten very, very difficult. She has an actual mental condition known as "anomia," where the person tends to forget common nouns. This condition is rare in young people, I read, and in the young can almost always be traced to some specific brain trauma. But in the elderly, the condition is more common, and is sometimes a part of the general condition known as "senior dementia."

I am always concerned when I hear the term "dementia" used to describe so many senior citizens, for the first thing I usually think when I hear it is the word "demented," and that brings up the image of kicking and screaming and carrying on. Certainly my mother does not display those characteristics- quite the contrary. She is usually quiet and often very sleepy.

But to return to the anomia, to understand what it is like, you must try to imagine having a conversation with someone in which you leave out all the nouns or use the wrong one. Sometimes, your listener can figure out the meaning, as when my Mom once referred to a "tissue" (Kleenex) as a "nose-minder." More often than not, though, she might say something like "I need a..." at which point the sentence trails off and she places her hand at the spot on the table where she is in the habit of putting a tissue when she brings one with her. (Indeed, she used to do that regularly, but now does not remember to carry them when brought from her room.) Situations like that are not impossible to decipher, but when she is just sitting in her chair trying to tell me about some occurrence she's been involved with, it can be almost impossible for me to figure out what she's saying. It's my own fault that this tends to give me feelings of being stupid, which tends to irritate me, which in turn causes me to sometimes get short with mother, and then I feel badly about that and the whole situation deteriorates and I just want to go home.

But Judy isn't with Mom often enough to get really exasperated, and so she handles it better. They got along quite well at lunch, and seem to be having a good time. Just before lunch began, I took a movie of Judy and mom. Judy and I are commenting on some camera stuff while mom is arranging the Kleenex that we brought with us. When I asked mom what was for lunch, she gave me quite a glare; I'm not sure why. You can watch that short movie using the player below:

 


We went back to visit Mom again at dinnertime so Judy could see what that particular routine was like, but I didn't take any pictures at that visit.

On Saturday, with Fred in tow, we went back to the Bentley Manor for lunchtime with mother, and I got a couple of good pictures of Judy with her mom- the first one in the dining room and the second one in mom's apartment. To see the full-size picture, just click on one of the thumbnails below:

We took in a movie after leaving Mom, but we returned to check on her again in the evening. I know that Judy might have felt a bit burnt-out at being at the Bentley Manor so much, but that was the primary purpose of my sending her a ticket to come out here; there is not going to be that much more time she will have to spend with her Mom, and I want her to make the most of it.

 


On Sunday, we all returned again to the Bentley Manor to have lunch with mom. Just before they brought my mom's entree, I got a good picture of my sister and her mother. Judy seems lost in thought, and I can only imagine she is either trying to understand what mom is saying or just sad that there is so little of her mother's ability to converse and show an interest in people left.

After lunch, we were sitting around and I decided to take another movie. One of my mom's more odd habits is to take her used paper napkin back to her room with her; sometimes she tears it in half, sometimes she doesn't. I can only surmise that she thinks that one day the Kleenex will stop magically appearing in her room and she will have to fall back on the napkins. Every few days I pick up all the napkins she has left all around the room and throw them away. This was my sister's first inauguration into the napkin ritual. After a while, Helen's daughter Judy came over to our table to visit. Judy is my age and usually talks to Fred and I when we see each other. You can see a movie of all this using the player at right.

And here is a picture of Judy, Judy and Mom.

 


After lunch, we went back to Mom's room to spend some time with her prior to a visit to the Arboretum. Judy had grabbed a banana on the way out of the dining room, remembering that Mom used to eat them frequently. There is a picture of Judy serving the banana to mom, and another picture of Judy and her mother. Always the cut-up, Judy tried to spoil a movie of her and mom by trying to get mom to make an obscene gesture towards me. The results, that you can see with the player at left, were more comical than offensive.

Just before the three of us left for a visit to the Arboretum, I took one more picture of Judy and mom.


It was a pleasant day and we had planned to go visit the Arboretum between lunch and dinner with mother. So about two o'clock, we headed over to the other side of town to see what the Spring flowers looked like. We spent quite a bit of time wandering around, but there was little of note for picture-taking. I did get a nice picture of Judy and Fred at one of the new water features in the extension to the Women's Garden that has been under development for some time, and I also took a picture of the water feature itself. Also, I used Judy and Fred as the unwitting stars of a movie of the new waterfall that you can watch with the player below:

 


About four in the afternoon, we headed home to relax for a bit before heading over to the Bentley Manor yet again to see mom for dinner. We arrived at the Bentley just about five, and sat with mom while she had dinner. Afterwards, in mom's apartment, she and Judy visited for a while. To see the two pictures I took of the two of them, click on the thumbnails below:

That was it for the day. The three of us had dinner and then spent a quiet evening at home. As usual, Fred left early the next morning for work. Judy had a late morning flight, so we got her all packed and then drove out to DFW Airport by way of the Bentley Manor, so that Judy could see mom one more time. I guess I pushed her for that last visit, but I know that mom won't be around forever, and I didn't want Judy to regret not having seen her more often. Anyway, I got Judy on the plane, and I was back to my routine.

All in all, it was a good visit; I just wish they were more frequent.


NOTE
 

During Judy's visit, I took a good many more pictures and movies of my mother, and these have been placed on the album page entitled "Olga Dougherty: Pictures for 2006." This page can be accessed from the 2006 Index page, but if you would like to go and see the other pictures that I took during Judy's visit and then return to this page, please click here.


 

April 27-May 5, 2006: A Trip to Florida
March 23-31, 2006: A Trip to Florida
Return to Index for 2006