I took my mom to dinner at the Greenwood Park Mall food court the other evening. I try to do this at least every other week, usually on Friday nights. We eat at Chick-Fil-A or the pizza place near the entrance. Once I got her some kind of chicken from the Chinese place, but she said it was too sweet. I had to agree.
Every time we go it is the first time she has been there. My mom has Alzheimer’s.
I usually struggle with what to talk about over dinner. Often the degree of struggle is guided by her degree of lucency that particular evening. Sometimes I just respond to whatever comes out her. I verify that relatives long dead are indeed dead or reassert family happenings that are months if not years old.
But this most recent evening she was as good as she’s been in a long while, and we got on the subject of writing.
Mom told me that she wrote a couple of dozen articles when I was a kid and how later she was a free-lance editor for some journals. We talked about my novel-in-progress, how it came to its current structure, my professors’ support of it, writing every day, and what to write next – David and Bathsheba or Samson and Delilah. We talked about David and how he abused his power. We talked about Samson and about Nazirite vows.
It was fun to talk to mom about writing. I also felt like maybe it was somehow, even for a few minutes, thawing her brain. “I don’t know how I started to write,” she said in response to a question I hadn’t asked, “I just did.”
It saddened me that her response to our chat was to contemplate, for a few minutes, writing a book. “I don’t know what I’d write about…it would take a lot of time, but it’s better than watching TV.” I told her it is a lot better than watching TV. I didn’t tell her that she might as well consider becoming an astronaut.
Then I thought again. What’s so sad about it? Nothing. In fact, quite the opposite.
For a few minutes the other night she had a dream, an aspiration. The conversation had made her feel alive. For a few minutes, among the thousands spent in the fog of her illness, she felt like there was a thing she might grasp.
So she mused aloud. Talking with me, there in the food court, about what might yet [never] be.