After confirming his philandering by following him to a hotel one afternoon, my mom bought a ticket for Florida to live with her sister, Barbara. A month into the visit, my mom called from the mall. “I can’t find my car anywhere. Can you come and get me?” she asked. When my aunt arrived, she found her sister pacing in the garage, eating truffles from a candy box. Chocolate streaks covered her lips and cheeks; her wig was askew. My aunt phoned me in my college dorm with the story, adding that she kept her concerns to herself.
“Your mom has quite enough to deal with right now. Why make it worse?”
Later that month, my mom had a moment in the car where she tried talking but what came out made no real sense at all. The ER resident referred to this speech pattern as “word salad.” Each word could be defined, but didn’t belong next to the one before or after it – potato, heaven, jam, baseball, Walmart – offered up like a sentence where the meaning was abundantly clear only to the speaker. By the time, the attending physician arrived, everything had returned to normal. The doctor thought it was stress or a small stroke according to Bar.
“Nothing to be done, but watch it,” she reported. “It’s called a TIA. Look it up. No Biggie.”
Soon, my mom couldn’t think of words.
“Can you pass the stuff in the jar? The stuff. The jar with the white stuff in it,” she said to me, her finger wagging at the mayonnaise jar, after minutes of looking at her sandwich like something were missing. My mom was barely fifty at the time.
She tripped and fell repeatedly when there was nothing to trip on.
“I think she needs a neurologic exam. People don’t act like this because they are getting a divorce.” I said to various family members.
“No. She’s fine.” They said.
“You worry too much. You always were a worrier.”