“you are so snotty”


our morning chat began with talking about our cruise and someones upcoming surgery and what is she going to do, followed immediately by a conversation with an open checkbook, that covered writing a $30,000.00, no – $50,000.00, no – $10.00, no – $1,000.00 check because of all of the abused children in the world then moved on to why are they building apartments with someone that she will never speak to again. then she talked about how deeply someone in the family hates my father, her ex husband, based on events from 40 years ago because he was mean, and i’ve never really liked my brother.

she asks again and again, what do i know about the building project. i told her that i don’t know anything.

she heard, “i won’t talk with you about _______this.” the money, my childhood, my father, a building project, the surgery.

that is when she called me snotty.

i pull inward, try to keep the tears at a distance, telling myself that this is not an argument, this is not a conversation, this is not something that can be or ever will be resolved.

we have talked with her neuropsychologist, Dr. M about clarifying misunderstandings and not carrying assumptions or preconceived ideas. i have made a commitment with her to “talk things out” and clear the air, to not walk away and pretend things are fine. IT IS JUST SO HARD and it takes so much time to find clarity. the stroke has fiddled with her brain and early dementia seems to be stirring the gray matter and the bruised heart that still longs to connect and love, but finds it so complicated, difficult and painful.

in many ways, it would be easier to just ignore and move on, because she may not remember the conversation. and it is exhausting.

we sat side by side on the red couch. i finished a row, put my knitting down and said, “mom, my feelings are hurt. when you call me snotty, i feel like i am being reprimanded and you are slapping my wrist.”

she misunderstands. she starts to cry and says she does everything wrong. and we settle in to muddle through.

i remind her of the magnetic words that she used to have on her refrigerator. the ones that she could write poetry with. like those printed words, hers are separated in her brain and when she tries to say a sentence. the words come tumbling out like dice, rolling out of a plastic jar. what i hear or see is different than what she thought or meant and our task is to work together to get those words in the best order.


we sat together. we found clarity, of sorts. we moved words around. for three hours.

standing up, her shrinking body held onto me as she said, “i love you more. did you know you are my baby, in my belly. i love my baby girl.”

then we were done and she asked for a fried chicken sandwich and mango pineapple smoothie from mcdonalds.

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