NICK HENNEN: Now I See — Another Conversation With Mom

Preface to reader: I originally planned to my make my second post one of the first ones I had made detailing my talks with my mom, who has primary progressive aphasia — a language disorder that involves changes in the ability to speak, read, write and understand what others are saying — and posts about them on social media.

I found, however, that gaining access to older posts is something I’m not yet well-versed on. So, in the meantime, I’ve included this and will make my best attempt to find the oldest post for my next submission:

When it came to phone conversations with mom, I was always the one saying goodbye. This perhaps wasn’t the case as a child, but this is what I most remember. “Well, I’ll let you go,” and so on — so much so it just became a habit. After she became sick, it continued (despite the guilt) because I felt, I had to go.
Me: Hi Buddy!
Mom: Hi Buddy!
Me: I just called to say I love you.
Mom: Well, how nice!
Me: ahh …
Mom: I miss you.
Me: I miss you, too!

And then a stage of immense awareness emerged.

That state, where I am now, is a place where I do not say goodbye until she initiates. I simply listen and share stories until she says she is ready to go.
Sometimes, we talk so long she literally forgets how to hang up the phone. (This happens more often on longer calls.) And unless we’re interrupted by ritual (pill time) or madness (someone’s wandered into her room) we talk and talk.
It seems so poignant -— how putting a receiver to sleep can sometimes take so long.
I take so much for granted.
I listen to the clamoring attempts and when it doesn’t click, she’ll come back to say “hi”. Most of the time she’s aware, though, sometimes not.
Worst case, I text a sibling to call and have the nurse assist while I stay on the line. (It makes an awful noise otherwise.)
All in all, this decision changed things a lot between us. So many hours simply being present with one another. Time spent of shared airspace in a way that wasn’t filled with needs. Neither one of us wanting to say or hear anything in particular from each other. But instead an awareness to just to be there. To experience whatever, together, minute by minute.
Very recently, however, she’s been taking the opportunity to say goodbye a lot sooner than she had been and for now, I’m taking its a good sign that she has other places to be, things to do and is doing OK.
I talk to her the same if not more, but the conversations have felt slightly more urgent, shorter in length, and there is less for her to say, I feel. We’re focusing on the sentiment. And so, I have also started calling a little bit more often instead of what had become every night.
Me: I’ll pray for you.
Mom: OK.
Me: OK.
Mom: I’ll pray for you, too.
Me: Aww, you’re so sweet.
Mom: Love you.
Me: Love you more.
Mom: (Chuckles).
Me: Talk to you later.
Mom Talk you tomorrow!
Me: Good night, g’noot.
Mom: Good night, my dear.

One thought on “NICK HENNEN: Now I See — Another Conversation With Mom”

  • Helen Murphy December 4, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    There is a silver lining to many difficult situations. You are learning the importance of time with someone you love and to tell them that you love them and to hear they love you. Your presence in person and via telephone mean more to your mom than you know. It is a comfort to her. I am sure she is proud of you and that you grew up to be a kind and caring human being. Words are only one way to show love.


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