Where is Yvonne?
If dad doesn’t remember mum, Yvonne, then who is the woman down the hall?
Mum and dad have their own room in an aged care residential village. They live separately but under the same roof where they can be cared for when needed. It’s like a hotel but with nursing care and organised activities. Mum’s room is located up the hall from dad’s. They have been there almost seven years and it’s only now that dad seems to be slowly fading and is somewhere in between.
Dad has no recall of mum, Yvonne his wife. Theoretically, he has no children. When he looks at me, who does he see? He says, daughter, but is that just like he says, mum, a habit of words. There is some dissembling going on and he masks his confusions well because mum doesn’t know, he doesn’t know, who she is?
Yesterday morning he was so excited, it was his birthday. He told everyone at the nursing home and they all sang happy birthday. He got all dressed up because he was going out to lunch with all his family. It wasn’t his birthday at all, everyone just went along with him. He informed the staff he couldn’t find Yvonne and told them she was supposed to have breakfast with him but she was gone.
Did dad wake up from a dream and believed there was to be a celebration? And, he was looking for Yvonne, not mum. He doesn’t refer to Yvonne as being his wife and he doesn’t know what happened to her. Yvonne was also his sister’s name.
Dad knows he is in his nineties but his memories are back to when he was younger, possibly before marriage. It’s like he is trapped in the physical with a mental age much younger. Maybe it was a happier time and that’s where Yvonne is and why he can’t find her now.
It must be terribly confusing for him and I can see him retreating, moving back in time. He’s polite and asks how you are etc but he doesn’t engage in conversation the way he use to. He occasionally breaks out in song and a glint of his personality shines through the confusion. It’s like a leveller, a coping mechanism of sorts.
So, who is mum to him if he never married? Just a nice lady it seems, who makes him cups of tea. He refers to her as mum but will say to me, I know she’s really not our mum.
I don’t know how I fit into his memories but he still fits into mine.
Love you dad!