“Robin, it feels like I had a screw loose and it finally fell out.”
Those were my mother’s words on Friday morning, March 3, 2017.
The day the screw fell out.
My mother and father were married for almost 56 years. They had four children. My older sister, myself, my younger sister and brother. We grew up in a pretty typical household. My father worked for the United States Air Force (including a tour in Viet Nam), and the Air National Guard all of my young life.
We grew up in Maryland. My oldest sister is 4 years older than I am, my little sister and I are only two years apart, and my brother is 7 years younger than her. My older sister was the only one of us who earned a college degree. My brother served four years in the US Navy. After Dad retired he and my mother made 3 cross country trips to see this beautiful land. They towed a trailer and stayed in campgrounds all across the USA.
Two of us remained in Maryland, one moved to Virginia and I moved to Indianapolis. We gave our parents 12 grandchildren. The oldest is now 34, and the youngest is 14.
On September 15, 2013 my father died unexpectedly. We were all devastated, but none so much as my mother. Dad was the love of her life.
In the next couple of years we (my siblings and I) began to see mom decline. Just little things, really. Not remembering dates. Not being able to set the timer on her lamp (which comes on at dusk every night).
My brother started greeting me when I came in town with, “Mom’s really starting to slip.” I didn’t see it. When I visited from Indianapolis to Mom’s home in Maryland I didn’t really see it. Whenever I come to town all of my siblings try to see me, so the house is usually chaotic, to say the least. I didn’t have any real “one on one” conversations with her because we were never alone.
In the fall of 2016 my younger sister and I could no longer deny that mom was, indeed, slipping. We contacted her doctor’s nurse and told her that we had concerns about Mom’s memory. She assured us that the doctor would be quite discreet in discussing the issue with her. My younger sister accompanied Mom to her appointment in October.
The doctor asked, “Well, Carol, are you forgetting things, or have you gotten lost?”
“Oh, I haven’t gotten lost.” (She’d gotten lost at least twice that we know of.)
“Then you’re fine.”