I want to start my post today by reminding you who the characters of Bobbie and Normar are in my mother's life. Mother's mother, Hannah died when she was three years old and her dad John, married a woman named Norma "Normar" Chapman. Eventually John and Normar had two children, a daughter Bobbie and a son, Don.
It's getting pretty late, and my husband and I are watching television with mother in her livingroom in her small apartment which is conveniently located through a set of double doors just off my livingroom. I'm yawning and so is mother, signaling to me that it's bedtime for both of us. I ask mother if she's ready for bed and she says "yes." My husband Bob who has always been called "Bobby" as long as I can remember to friends and family alike is sitting back in the recliner just to the back right of mother who lies on the loveseat. "Do you want to sleep with me, I have a nice double bed just right in there" mother inquires. "No mother" I reply, I have a bed upstairs I sleep in with Bobby." "Bobbie!" she exclaims, what in the world are you going to sleep with Bobbie for?" "Mother! Bobby is my husband silly." "Bobbie who?" she asks. "Bobby Edwards of course." "Oh, I thought you were talking about my sister Bobbie." Bobbie, mother's youngest sister who died with breast cancer at an early age of 62 has been gone for some fifteen years now, but mother's dementia won't allow her to retain her passing.
Monday has arrived and I'm wanting to cook something that mother really enjoys eating as well as something that will last a couple of days so I won't have to cook every day. Chicken 'n dumplings have been a specialty of mine for a while now and mother seems to agree. I've announced to her that I will be going by the grocery store when I get off work today to purchase the ingredients and will hurry home to make them in time for supper.
Making my way through the diningroom, I catch a glimpse of mother sitting reared back in my once favorite sitting chair by the piano in my livingroom. "Howdy!" I call to her. "How was your day?" I ask. "O, pretty fair" she answers back. "How was yours?" ""Bout the same, I guess." I follow. I step on into my kitchen, which blocks the view from mother as I unpack my groceries and proceed to make my dumplings. "Do you drive or does somebody bring you home?" comes a weird question from the livingroom. "I drive of course!" "O, well I thought somebody carried you back and forth," she snaps. A little inquisitive, but figure it's par for the course, I continue my cooking.
After some forty-five minutes later, and many strange remarks to me from mother, I declare that my dumplings have been made. Walking into the livingroom, I see that she has stepped into her apartment for some reason or other and is waddling back through the double doors. Mother looks at me and says, "Normar, I could have helped you in there if you'd just let me!" she says. "Normar!" I shout. "Mother, I'm not Normar!" "Well where is she?" Mother hurriedly goes into the kitchen calling for Normar. I assure her that Normar is no longer among the living and that I was the one who was slaving in the kitchen. She cannot believe that Normar is not here. "Well, I was just talking to her, and she answered me," she says. "Mother that was me, I tell her. "No it wasn't, I know you, I was talking to Normar and she was telling me that she had been to that place in Columbus working all day." "That was me!" I try to convince. I call for her to come into her place. "Jean, what in the world is wrong with me" she asks. "Well, you just got a little confused mother, I tell her." With a blank look on her face, she sits looking into the distance as if she is reliving her conversation with her long departed step-mother, pausing to remind me of things she had asked and "Normar" had answered as she prepared the dumplings just hours before.
Once again, dementia has played a cruel trick on me and mother. That night while readying myself for bed, I take a close look at myself in the mirror and wonder why mother thought me to be her stepmother Normar. Was it my hair which I had just cut the day before. I hold many memories of spending the night at "Normar's house, watching as she slept with her arm propping her head up, off the pillow, so as not a hair would touch, keeping every strand in place. Or was it because Normer liked to cook chicken 'n dumplings for her family? Knowing that I would never have an answer in this lifetime, I jump into bed and have a quiet chuckle to myself as I fall asleep, head on pillow and not a strand in place.