The spoon fell on rug below for the umpteenth time. As I bent down to lift it up, I sensed that she had grown stiff. My momentary disappearance had scared her. I wanted to walk away from the old wooden table, but I had to finish feeding her. I tried to feed her the last few drops of soup but she kept forgetting to swallow, so that most of it landed up on the dirty table cloth.
My dinners with my mother had been like this for some time now. Five years ago, when she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the doctor had said that she would forget all voluntary actions. Back then, I had failed to realise just what that meant, how it would turn both our lives into hell. But now, I had begun to realise its full meaning.
It started with small incidents: she would talk to me on the phone and, all of a sudden, ask who she was talking to; she would come to talk to me in my room and then ask where the door was. The most dramatic incident happened when she had gone out to purchase groceries: as she made her way across the road, she forgot where she was and was nearly run over by a speeding truck. Since then, I have had to lock her up at home: a prisoner of her own mind.
Once she was done eating, I helped up her up to her room. It was a painfully slow task because she would forget the process of lifting up her feet one after the other to climb up the short flight of stairs. All the while, she would go on mumbling words like a little baby. Having lost her knowledge of words, she was restricted to such sounds, like a helpless little baby. It made me very angry to see her do this, I wish she would just shut up and stop making the whole thing so hard. Many a times, I would push her on purpose, hoping that the shock of the fall would stop her continuous mumbling. But it never did and I had to help her up so that we could get to her smelly old bedroom.
Her disease had taken a great physical toll on her. She kept bumping into walls and tripping over the carpet, injuring herself in the process. She couldn’t even be trusted to take her medicines on time anymore. The medical bills for her regular visits to the doctor were mounting and we were forced to give up most things that people here usually took for granted. The lights had to be kept off most of the time to save electricity, making the house look dark and gloomy. We could no longer afford heating oil and lived in the bitter cold with layers of warm clothing.
Her disease had destroyed her memory and with it, my dreams. I was forced to give up my regular job and work from home. It was too dangerous to leave her alone anymore for there was no telling what harm she could cause to herself. The little income that I earned was just enough to keep us alive, but not enough for me to start my own family. I had once dreamt of living the high life with a
beautiful wife and kids. Now, it all seems like a distant thought. I had nothing anymore, just my sick mother to tend to every moment of my life.