My mother and her sister were named after the months they were born in: May and June. Both have Alzheimer’s. Patricia May has passed away and but my mother ticks on. Here’s a section of a short story(fiction) that I’m working on about ‘June’ remembering Mother’s Day and then Father’s Day as she tries to take in the news that ‘May’ has died.
They say no. She is not yet beside Mother and Father. Good. Tell them that on Mothers’ Day we pin a white carnation from the vase in the church narthex onto our cardigans and then we sit in the family pew waiting for the service. The pastor will deliver homilies of two kinds. May and I discuss how we would rather wear pink or orange carnations, and so we return the white ones to the vases in the narthex and pin the coloured ones on with long hat pins. The deacon notices and kindly says that there aren’t enough coloured flowers. Would we mind trading ours for the white again? We are mortified. Mother only pins coloured carnations onto our cardigans.
Father’s Day is less complicated. We take fish and chips to the pond and share a great bottle of dark ale, wiping our greasy hands on the grassy bank, putting off our shoes and socks afterwards to dangle our legs over the edge, fishing bits of coleslaw from the Styrofoam container and tossing the limp strands onto the water, calling up the fish as though they are our friends, kicking our feet hard in tandem so that whenever the minnows do surface, we have created tidal waves for the poor things. Father would like to choke us girls for scaring the fish away, for disturbing them, yet he has no qualms about tricking the fish with worms and impaling them with hooks in the first place.
For more reading about mothers with Alzheimer’s, try this graphic novel: Tangles: a story about Alzheimer’s, my mother and me by Sarah Leavitt.