Mom was always proper. I was trained from a young age to have full table manners. Any elbow on the table was commented upon. Napkins were placed on laps. And table settings were perfect; the knife, fork, and spoon were correctly placed in our house for every meal. At one point in high school, a friend of mine was over eating with us and she was delighted to learn how to set the table correctly. My mother taught her. My response to that was vague amazement that my friend had lived to 17 years old without having that skill down. I am pretty sure that I learned about 10 years earlier. Mom’s training ensured that I never had to wonder which fork to use in a restaurant.
Tonight, I had a friend over for dinner, a friend that Mom gets on well with so we were all going to eat together. I asked Mom to set the table, a task that just a few months ago would have been well within her functioning range. I walked over after she had been working at it for a while to make sure that we were all set.
What I found was a table covered with a jumble of silverware — many more pieces than were needed. It was all in a pile in the middle of the table. I straightened it out into the settings for each person and returned about eight spoons to the drawer. It was such a visual of just how chaotic Mom’s inner world must be. At this point, to simply count the correct four spoons for dinner is too confusing of a task.
Happily though, in spite of the table setting challenges, she can still feel the happiness of good company and humor. And since I don’t feel terribly strongly about table setting perfection, it was a lovely dinner.
May 21, 2014 at 6:15 am
Oh this is such a great visual. So touching and so stabbing at the same time.. You have great courage.
May 21, 2014 at 7:23 am
Your story reminds me of my Mother-in-Law as our family has gone through her stages of Dementia these past 9 years. I was so delighted she wanted to help with the dishes earlier this year. We tossed reason aside as she washed. I knew later I would have to rewash them, but it was so great to see her so happy with the task. You have a nice way with your mom and keep asking her to help.
May 21, 2014 at 7:34 am
Your mom sounds a lot like mine. Evertything had to be served in the proper dish with the appropriate implement. No tossing the pan or the ketchup bottle on the table. I can only imagine what it would be like to see that disentergrate into chaos.
May 21, 2014 at 10:05 pm
You capture the changes in your mother in the most optimistic and sensitive manner. Just beautiful.