Sunday, March 21, 2010

Remembering this 'n that at "certain ages"

The sunshine was fabulous while it lasted, although it's certainly whetted our appetites for more. The weather forecast originally promised a warm sunny weekend, but today is grey, wet, and windy, not the best weather for the garden-work I had planned. Oh dear, just have to curl up with a book by the fire!

Just as well, perhaps, because this spring gardening is taxing my memory! All last week, I kept trying to remember the name of the plant with the forget-me-not-like flowers. I knew it wasn't omphalodes cappadocia, also a forget-me-not mimic -- those are around the front of the yard. And it wasn't the forget-me-nots themselves, only just beginning to come into broom. My brain kept throwing up "b" names that I knew were wrong -- Borage, especially, and yes, borage is blue, but it's not a groundcover.

My mom, who gave me the omphalodes many years ago (and was amused that its Latin name suggested little blue navels), probably also supplied the b plant. She's been struggling with memory, convinced that the problems she's having will lead to full-blown Alzheimers soon and that we'll "put her in a home." Meanwhile, she gets herself out and about as much as she can, walking two to three hours a day, surprising us all recently by doing exercise classes at the Seniors Centre a block from her condo. She's never socialized much independently, and now finds herself lonely and, well, bored (books, which were always the answer for her, are tougher now to enjoy, as she keeps forgetting what's going on). One of my sisters, brave soul, has talked her into a trip to London, and mom is alternately excited, then anxious, committed to going, then determined not to. If it works out and they have their week there, I hope to spend a day or two with them, perhaps at the National Portrait Gallery and then a concert at St. Martin's. Art and music can both be appreciated even without a good memory.

Meanwhile, though, I had a lovely day with Mom last weekend in Vancouver. Another sister (the fastest one) picked her up and drove her out to meet us at my daughter's, where she was able to visit with little Nola, her great-granddaughter (I love the whole four generations thing!). Then Mom and I headed out to shop some of her favourite high-end consignment shops on South Granville Row, ones she hasn't been able to visit since giving up her car. Offerings included Ann Deulemeister, Dries van Noten, Chanel silver flats ($300, secondhand!), Louboutin, Blahnik, Prada and on and on. The owner at TurnAbout greeted mom with a big hug and said how much they had missed seeing her -- cute to see! Much of the stock here is in the size 2-6 range, and Mom's generally a 4, sometimes a 2, although she was complaining a bit about her tummy (non-existent, believe me!)

While she was very tempted by a beautifully-embroidered jacket in a jean-jacket cut, she decided to think about it over lunch. Instead, at Second Look, she loved the Missoni I made her try on (although at first she thought its mix of purples, yellows and greens too loud). Between that and the little cream-and-black Nanette Lepore short jacket (with gorgeous pleating at the back), the register ka-chinged somewhere near $500, making her a bit anxious (there was also some concern about a missing Bank Card, and a forgotten charge card PIN, but we coped . . . ). Again, so cute to watch Mom preen when the sales assistants realized she was 78, and had borne and raised ten children. They wanted to know her slim-and-fitness secrets. And were very amused and impressed to hear her say that she thought the Missoni jacket would be perfect with her dark jeans!

As we drove her home, she was thinking how well both jackets would do for her trip to London. And I was reassured to see that even with a faltering memory, life offered up its retail pleasures and style doesn't have to be abandoned in the senior years. Yes, I should have taken some photos for you -- can I offer forgetfulness as an excuse? And say it runs in the family?

Today, my family is gathering at Mom's for a pancake brunch to celebrate her 79th birthday (actually tomorrow). Having spent the last two weekends in the city, we just couldn't do one more, so I'll be phoning my greetings later. Mom and I chatted Friday evening and she still has a good memory of our outing last Saturday, and it's refreshed by wearing the jacket (although she claims not to remember enjoying the sales clerks' praise -- seemed to like hearing me describe it again!).

Oh, and the blue-flowered plant? Brunnera macrophylla! It was the first thing I thought on waking the other night. The little man racing up and down looking through all those rows and rows of filing cabinets of arcane information in my brain just needed more time to retrieve it. Such a relief. . .


  1. Lovely to hear of such a successful outing with your mum - she did very well! Patricia
    P.S. Happy Birthday to her!

  2. I wondered if it was Brunnera.

    Sounds like you had such a wonderful outing with your mom. Happy birthday to her.

  3. Patricia: She really did! And I'll happily pass along the b.d. wishes.
    Mardel: Those Latin names! sometimes it's just an alphabet soup up there in my brain. . . and thanks! I'll pass your wishes along to mom as well.

  4. It is not so much that we are losing our memory, more that we are having to store ever more daily to trawl through.
    I often find it easier to leave something a day knowing that it will comeback to me often when I least expect it.

  5. Sheer delight reading this post...we have a lot in common with our moms and shopping...and forgetting the latin names of plants!

  6. Alison: Yes! I've learned to trust my retrieval system -- rather than stressing myself trying to remember, I try to relax and let it float up when it's ready.
    HHB: Yes, I thought of my mom when reading about you and yours and shopping. . .

  7. Your post got me a bit teary-eyed. I'm so delighted to read about women enjoying time with their mothers (and in some cases grandmothers, as well), as we can never really know how many times we will have with them.

    It sounds like a lovely day!

  8. Gina: As my mom's memory comes and goes, I'm quite aware that even if she's around for many more years, as I expect she may well be, I've got limited time with her as she is now. . . already so much of the material we used to be able to discuss is off limits as too challenging for her. Having lost that, I'm careful to treasure what I can get from the time we're able to spend together.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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