Friday, May 3, 2013

Fiction Friday Challenge - The Unraveling Begins

Your mother has Alzheimers. It's already fairly advanced. I'm sorry.

I sat across from the doctor in disbelief, even though I knew in too many ways that what he was saying was true. I'd suspected it for a while now, but never allowed myself to really entertain the possibility that she was changing.

I didn't want to lose her. I didn't want her to lose herself. I didn't want her memories to slowly slip away from her mind as they had been. I wanted to believe that it was something else, anything else. I wanted to scoop them up as they fell away from her and tuck them back safely inside her head where they belonged.

I wanted to. I tried.

I would sit and show her pictures, tell her the same stories she told me for years and years and years, recite them back from the memories that she placed in my mind of her memories. She would nod sometimes and ask questions that I didn't have the answers to, but I allowed myself to think that maybe there was some recognition in there. That maybe she was just tired or a little confused. That maybe it was the medication.

Then I got a phone call from the hospital. She'd gone out walking a few days ago as she had always done, except this time she didn't know how to get home. So she kept walking.

By the time someone stopped her and asked who she was and if she needed help, it was dark and she was on the other side of town. Knowing her usual routine, that meant that she had been out walking for at least eight hours. She'd walked for so long that she wore a hole in the sole of her shoe. She didn't have any identification on her except the medical ID bracelet. Thank god she had that, or I might not even know where she is now.

She was stable, just a bit dehydrated. They'd given her a few bags of IV fluid, run lots of tests.

She was mostly excited that the kitchen has prepared her sandwich just the way she liked. Though she should have been ravenously hungry, she'd taken her customary six bites and left the rest.

She wasn't sure why I was there, or why she was there. She called me by the wrong name at first. By that name. The one that stung and I didn't fully understand. I reminded her who I was, and she tilted her head a bit before asking if I was sure. Was I sure who I was? I thought so, even if she didn't know who I was all the time anymore. Even if she used that name.

Why did she have to use that name?


She wanted to know why they had stabbed her in the arm with this long needle thing, as she motioned the the IV. Her arm so thin and her skin so papery that you could actually see the catheter in the vein.

I nodded my head as the doctor told me all the things that needed to change going forward. She couldn't be alone. She needed supervision. I needed to think about applying for conservatorship. She wouldn't be able to manage her finances much longer. He asked if I knew how she was doing as far as all that went - whether she was current on her bills.

I am not sure.

I wasn't. I should have been. I should have pulled myself out of denial when it all started months earlier, back when she started to forget small details. I should have noticed the subtle signs. I should have realized that it wasn't the medication, that she wasn't tired, that it wasn't just confusion.

I should have known.

I failed her, and something terrible could have happened.

I pushed those thoughts away in an instant, refusing to let the guilt take over. She was here now, she was safe, I was here, and I could help her. I had to help her. I just knew how hard it was going to be.

I'd known this woman for my entire life, after all. She was the one who's voice I first heard, the one who sang me lullabies, the one who brushed my hair, the one who fed me.

Now, I would have to do all of that for her.

I glanced away from the doctor for a moment, and through the glass into her room. She sat on the edge of the bed, hands folded neatly in her lap, staring at the wall.

I knew that it wouldn't be easy. I knew that she would resist it all, that she would deny there was anything wrong. I knew that she was a strong and proud soul, and that she would fight me.

I had no idea the unraveling that would begin that day.

This post is a part of a collaborative project including many writers from different backgrounds, all writing on the same prompt each week. After taking a break from the challenge, I am back (and hope to stay a while). Please check out the pieces written by the others in the group. I will add their links as they post.

The prompt for this week was a simple one, in keeping with the idea that May is the month that we celebrate mothers. 

Simply, it is this

Begin your piece with the following phrase, "Your mother..."


  1. That must be such a tough thing to hear. Loved the part about the mom putting memories into her head and also the girl trying to put them back into the mom's head.

  2. So glad you're back, my friend. And with yet another tough subject. Love that you threw the little mystery in there. I've always wondered what comes out of people's heads (what unwanted stuff) when the filter comes completely off.

  3. Kelly: This was written with so much pain, love...regret and humanity. More!!! So glad you're back!

  4. So much sensibility pouring through your words Kelly. Welcome back! Touched deep in my heart.


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