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  • We became friends, my mother and I;
    we became friends before she forgot who I was.

    "Hi Mom!" I'd say, as I knocked on her door and walked in, "Thought I'd stop by." I visited her at least twice a month.

    When I arrived the cupboards would be bare and the fridge empty, so I'd suggest a trip to the grocers. Mom was always up for an adventure. I recall our weekend drives, to no place in particular, and exploring until we were completely lost. At some point, Mom would say, "it's time to go back."

    I don't recall what signaled the end of our adventue, had it been the need for gas or discovering just how far we had gone, but whatever the reason, it was time to turn around and the turning around was a monumental challenge.

    It's not that every driveway passed didn't offer a course correction, I would repeatedly prompt her to the point of begging, "There's a perfectly good driveway on your left coming up!" and she would reply, "There's a place right up the road, we can turn around there!"
    This dialogue would continue for miles.
    I never consider the possibility that each prompting to turn was acknowledged by her for the first time.

    When we went to the store she insisted on paying. Mom shopped conservatively but I tossed a few things in the cart so I could help pay. It seemed to me that her paying reestablished her independence.

    Heading to the car mom would say, "Jeff, I don't think we parked over here."
    and I would reply, "Yes we did, follow me." I didn't realize she was suffering from memory loss, I thought she was just getting old. The bare cupboard and empty fridge, and her probably forgetting to eat, were all signs. Signs I didn't want to see.

    As a child, I loved Saturday mornings. Mom in the kitchen whistling a discordant melody while making molasses cookies and I upstairs in bed, listening to the bustle of familiar sounds. For those precious moments I felt safe, warm, and content.

    Severals years passed before I suspected something was amiss. When the mother I knew disappeared, I was left with memories and a life lesson taught to me in an odd way. Our time together, our sharing, is what counts.

    (c) 2014 Jeff Bailey
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