Tuesday, 6 March 2012

My parents

My parents visited for the weekend. My father is 79 years old and drove the 180 miles to see us. He is very active, despite still suffering from injuries sustained as a child in the second world war. He is a writer and has embraced computers in recent years, which is particularly impressive given he does not use them intuitively but writes detailed notes for every procedure.

My mother is 72 and not as active as she used to be. Since we last saw her, she has taken to pushing a shopping trolley everywhere for support due to arthritis in her knees. She doses herself with pills and cider vinegar that are supposed to help, and gives herself electric shocks with a thumb operated device.

My mother has always been a talker, but tells her stories to so many relatives she has often repeated herself. It has struck me how my father doesn't really seem to notice this. For years they have had the habit of telling me the same stories time and again, as if for the first time, even on consecutive days when we are staying with them.

My mother's memory was noticeably worse this time. She asked perhaps twenty times if we had visited our friends in Seaton since we had arrived back in the country and if they were coming to see us.

While she is forgetting things, she also has false memories. She was convinced she had been with me in my car when someone crashed into the back of it two years ago. In retelling the story, she has placed herself at the scene.

Her spatial memory is being affected. She won't travel into town on her own anymore to visit the shops because she is worried she won't find her way home.

But she remembers more active times without rancour, reminding us as she pushes her trolley of our long walks on family holidays.

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