Since I’m relatively new to the family, I don’t have as many memories of Mummy as Anis and the rest of the family do. But one of my favorite memories of Mummy was shortly after we got married. I had a splitting migraine that just wouldn’t go away, so I was lying down on the couch with my eyes closed, hoping I could sleep it off. Mummy came with a bottle of vaporub, and massaged my forehead for what must have been an hour or an hour and a half. She massaged my head with very soft, gentle hands, never stopping to take a break, until my headache was gone. All I remember is waking up feeling completely refreshed and headache free. That is one thing I really miss.
As Anis sees his mom go through her disease, there are a lot of things he reminisces about and misses. Her siway on Eid morning. Her cooking. Her rational thinking and intelligent discussions. Her prayers for him. Her compassion for others. Her caregiver mentality whenever he was sick. It’s tough on Papa, it’s tough on her kids, and it’s tough on her relatives, who watch her disease take away these moments and turn them into distant memories that are spoken of in past tense. It’s no longer “Mummy cooks this really well,” it’s “Mummy used to cook this well” “Mummy used to do this” “Mummy used to do that” “Mummy was this, Mummy was that”.
One thing hasn’t changed, though. Her compassion for others hasn’t changed. Yesterday I was complaining to Papa (an orthopedic surgeon) of pain in my right arm. Mummy got up from the couch opposite mine, walked straight to my couch, sat next to me and started to talk. At first, I couldn’t understand a word. It seemed like random words, mushed into a sentence, with no meaning. “I came, then I stayed, then I went, then I walked straight, then I thought, then I sat, and I came, because I thought, then I tried, so that I could, then I sat, so I want to know, (points to my leg), what I can do.”
Allow me to decode what she just said.
She heard me talking to Papa about my arm pain, so she was telling me that when she heard what I said, she got up, walked straight towards me, sat down, and wanted to know what she could do to take my leg (she meant arm) pain away.
Then she held out her arm and told me to take it, so that my arm would stop hurting. The 3 of us had a good laugh about it, but when you look at her statements, it’s a shadow and a glimpse of her mentality and how she used to be.
Decoding her statements can be super tough. Sometimes, all 3 of us will have no clue as to what she’s saying or who she’s talking about. The key to decoding what she says is to recall what you talked to her about that day. For example (this actually happened):
Anis asked Mummy a question (probably something like do you want more food, something like that).
Mummy said, “No sir.”
Anis said, “Yes sir or no sir?”
Mummy laughed and said, “No sir.”
Then Mummy got quiet, whispering to herself, thinking about her nephews Yasser and Nasir, whom the family affectionately call Yes Sir and No Sir.
Then she realized that they are her sister’s kids.
Then she thought about her sister who the family calls “Moti” but who she has started calling “Guria”, but Gurhia is Anis’s sister, aka her daughter.
Confused? That’s ok, we all are.
5 minutes of silence later, Mummy says, “Call Gurhia where is she?”
Anis says, “Your daughter?”
Mummy “No no, the other Gurhia.”
Then Mummy tries to explain who she’s talking about, but doesn’t have the vocab anymore to express herself, so it comes out sounding like gibberish. Anis is all confused, but trying to understand who to call, and trying to figure out who the other Gurhia is.
I asked Mummy, “do you mean Moti?”
Lightbulb goes off in Mummy’s head. “Yes! Moti! Call Moti!”
Yesterday, she was sitting on the couch next to Anis, and saw her reflection in the patio window straight ahead of her.
“Someone is sitting there!” She told Anis.
We explained that it was her reflection, and she was trying to understand the concept of reflection. She kept asking “but how am I there when I didn’t go there I’m sitting here?”
A few minutes later, Mummy points to a random spot on the wall and says “There are people there.”
Anis said, “There’s no one on the wall, Mummy,” thinking she was hallucinating.
Again, Mummy tried explaining in gibberish.
Anis finally got that she was talking about the whole reflection thing again, so he pointed to the glass and said “Them?”
Mummy turned and looked, lightbulb went off, “Yes! Them!”
She was stuck on that topic for a while. Anis went and took her for a walk around our complex. When they came back, she sat down, looked at her reflection, and smiled.
“They’re still sitting, this whole time! I went and I came back, and they’re still here!”
Her mind still couldn’t grasp the concept. Her mind probably never will. That’s just something we have to accept.