An afghan as a symbol of regret...

My husband noticed something was wrong.

At first I hesitated. Then I told him, "No, it's stupid."

"I can tell something is wrong, what is it?"

"You're going to think this is stupid. Actually, it is  stupid. Ridiculous... [long pause]

"... Last night, I dreamed of an afghan."

Lest he think I meant an Afghan rather than the knitted blanket I envisioned, I hurriedly clarified:

"I have been thinking of the afghan I didn't take from my mother's house -- and wishing I had. Last night, I dreamed that I got the afghan back; this morning, I awoke and found I hadn't... It's stupid. It's just a thing. "

At that, I promptly burst into tears.

Back in November, when we'd cleaned out my mother's house to prepare it for rental (to produce income for her stay at a memory care facility), I'd taken very little. Some photos and other memorabilia, some articles my mom had written, a few practical items -- dishes and the like -- and one of the two wool afghans my grandmother had knitted but were unraveling.

Not really wanting two unraveling, useless afghans merely for memory's sake, I took my favorite -- and left the other.

My sister and I found scissors everywhere... scissors we could never find when we needed them, of course. These are a sampling, with a backdrop of the afghan I saved.
As we packed my mother's belongings, my sister and I found scissors everywhere... scissors we could never find when we needed them, of course. These are a sampling with which we awkwardly spelled out "MOM," with a backdrop of the afghan I saved.

 

Days after my visit, spent boxing up my mom's memorabilia and other possessions to distribute among my siblings, a housekeeper came in and sent the rest of my mother's belongings -- including the second wool afghan -- to a charity to be sold. She cleaned the house and prepared it for rental; in January, a family moved in. My mother -- memory impaired and unaware despite being told of the house being rented multiple times -- still invites me to stay every time I visit her. She lives in a single room in a beautiful memory care facility -- her home away from home, she believes, as she ministers to others while her own mental health improves.

It isn't and won't. For the past two months, every time I call my mother, she tells me about the "conspiracy" taking place in her facility. The first time she discussed this with me, she sounded so serious and distressed that I called the facility and contacted my siblings to make sure everything was OK. (I am her only child not living in her immediate vicinity.) The facility attributed Mom's fallacy to the full moon present at the time; she was sitting in her walker near the main door of the facility trying to make her escape. My siblings said that all was normal and well.

The other times my mother has mentioned the "conspiracy," she has discussed it jovially, with delight. I have ceased to be concerned, though it is disconcerting, and attribute this current perseveration to her illness.

My mother has Alzheimer's disease. While she has lived a full and productive life, at 82 she suffers from a hip that causes such pain it should be replaced. My siblings and I have decided, after learning that 90 percent of Alzheimer's patients who undergo surgery never recover completely from the anesthesia, that my mom will have to live with the pain.  Recently, the facility requested Depends, wipes, and gloves for Mom's care. She has become incontinent and has thrown away most of her underwear.

Certainly, she is on my mind -- along with the now-gone afghan.

It wasn't until I had my favorite afghan in my possession that I learned my gym friend Connie would be able to repair it; she took it home on a Thursday and returned it on a Monday -- perfect. I haven't washed it; it still smells as it did when I was a child and my mother would bundle me beneath it when I was sick. It was a household item, not my personal belonging, but it provided the perfect weight and warmth needed when I had a fever to break. The two afghans together almost insured good health was just a few hours away; they certainly indicated my mother's love for me -- and her mother's love for her, as my nana was the one who knitted them.

Before my mother's mental condition deteriorated to the point that she needed 24-hour care, she remained in her home. I cannot count the number of times she asked me and my siblings to come to the house and "claim" what we wanted of her belongings. We came and put Post-It notes on a few items -- the grandfather clock, the rocking chair, the ugly frog doorstop, the Santa Claus who resided on the toilet tank at Christmas, the spice cabinet -- but most of the items remained unclaimed.

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