Reblogged and modified from my blog, “Mom, Me, and Elderly.”
TJ’s household weekly haiku website challenges us this week with the household item, a calendar. The calendar has a unique significance to me. To elderly moms, to elderly dads, to adults who are their parents’ caretakers, I dedicate this haiku:
I summon Mother
to mark this day from others.
Behold! We’re still here!
I try to “do the calendar” with my elderly Mom each Sunday. It’s the lightest day of the week, and prepares her for the coming week. She finds her pen and marks a big X on the day that just passed.
It’s always interesting to see what she’s willing to do if we do the calendar at, say, 9pm and there are only three hours left to that day. She is not willing to X out that day.“I’ll just leave it.”
I see that as a good sign. There is still time in that day, time to be lived. “Okay, Mom. That’s fine.” In fact, that’s great.
The ritual usually begins with “What day is today?” and I’m not willing to tell her. I want her to figure it out.
“Well, Mom, yesterday was your doctor appointment. What day of the week is your doctor’s appointment?” I want her to think this through. want her little nerve endings to fire away and connect. I’ll supply the safety net when the memory fails, which it is inclined to do.
“What day is today?” It could be overwhelming. More than 1, less than 30. Last night when we did the calendar, I suggested she try to find my birthday. She found it, and was surprised when I told her that my birthday was two weeks ago. She X‘ed the days and there were a good number of X‘es but she ripped right through them and landed properly on Sunday the 25th. Last night she also wrote down her 2:45 hair salon appointment for today. While I doubted she’d remember the appointment, or even consult the calendar, when “tomorrow” came, it was important for her to do, for many more important reasons.
Some “advice” blogs tell seniors to mark an X on each day at the end of the day. That makes no sense for somebody with dementia: They can’t remember they need to do this in the first place.
It was exceptional when Mom and I did “the calendar” on the first day of January of this new year. Off the wall came the one calendar, and up onto the wall went another. Something we all do, but for an elderly parent who has dementia and isn’t sure what day of the week it is, marking a new year carries heft.
All the more interesting is this process, because we do it by telephone: I’m 300 miles away.
This is the blessing!