Hooray for Siblings

Mum has been low these last few days.

An awareness I think of both her body and her brain letting her down. 

She proclaims with such indignation, ‘well I wish somebody had bothered to tell me’ that you briefly question whether you ever actually did: tell her whatever it was she has apparently never been told. 

The slow slide of dementia’s distrustful hand is in evidence everywhere: ‘I think you are lying/I think he is cross with me/nobody bothered to tell me.’

But the paranoia that is attendant to forgetting is forgivable isn’t it: when your mind is a quagmire and all the facts are bogged down and stuck.  Muddied by a mind scribbled all over by plaques and tangles and proteins gone awry.

My siblings and I are a tight and united little force and I give thanks for that always. For their patience with my flapping and bossing and distress. For my brother’s astonishing and unstinting stamina and kindness even when Mum’s messy mind has him and his good intentions all wrong.   Because they both make me laugh – that dark humour that can only be shared by those in similarly tragicomic circumstances. 

Woe betide my husband if he makes light of my mum’s illness.

But when my brother says mum is tired after doing the ‘filing’ that morning (and she means the loading of  the dishwasher), we share a quiet smile.

And my sister and I laugh out loud when we compare the reasons mum did not get out of bed that day.

To me she says, ‘I am perfectly well. I am just very tired. I am having a day off. I think I have been working (filing?) too hard’.

To my sister she says, ‘Rob told me I had to stay in bed all day!’

As mum’s communication with us becomes ever more frayed, so mine and my siblings seems tighter and neater as we pick up the threads of one another’s thoughts.

And that’s lucky.

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