Monday, April 13, 2020

A Silent Sunday

With warm weather and plentiful sunshine over the Easter weekend, the government was afraid people would come out and contaminate each other in droves. But apparently that didn't happen. I guess people are finally getting the message about the importance of staying at home and social distancing. I was home all day yesterday, with only one brief outing to walk Olga -- and we only went literally around the corner.

The photo above shows Finchley Road, normally a major north/south traffic artery, yesterday afternoon. I don't think I've ever seen it so quiet. There are only five distant cars visible in that photo, and at least three of them appear to be parked.

Not only were the streets weirdly quiet -- they were also weirdly clean. The trash had been collected from all the places where it tends to accumulate, and the pavements even appeared swept.

I did a lot of cleaning of my own yesterday morning, including washing all our back windows. Several weeks ago a pigeon bumped into one of them, and I know this only because there was a ghostly pigeon-shaped smudge -- with outstretched wings -- left on the glass. I finally washed that away. (As far as I know the pigeon was unhurt -- at least, we never found a wounded one.)

I also had a little chat with Mrs. Kravitz, who prevailed upon me to remove a dead limb from the elder tree at the back of our property. (It was stretching over the fence, tousling the leaves of one of her shrubs like an adult might tousle a child's hair. Apparently she didn't like that.) It wasn't a high limb and it was easy to saw off.

Here's one more picture of the once-viney tree, now in full bloom.

I called my mom in the afternoon to wish her happy Easter. It was such a surreal conversation. Talking to my mom is pretty much a one-way affair these days, as dementia and aphasia prevent her from saying much back -- she usually just laughs. So I told her about me and Dave staying home, and how everything was paused because of the coronavirus, and how I hoped to come and see her but I wasn't sure when. And she just laughed and laughed and said "Oh God," as she often does -- and then she said, "I love you."

Now, my mom has never been the kind of person who would come right out and say "I love you." In fact, I'm not sure I've ever heard her say it. I was so stunned I just kept talking, thinking it was another quirk of her language impairment. But in the course of our 8 1/2-minute call, she said it twice more. So the second and third times, I said it back: "I love you too, Mom."

I think she knows what she's saying, but I also think she says it more lightly than she ever would have in the past. (In fact I think I remember her saying it to one of her home health aides when I visited last September!) But that's cool. I'm fine with that. At least it's being said.


Fresca said...

When I did Activities in a Memory Care (dementia) unit, some family members told me their parent was nicer with dementia than before. It's a cruel disease, but sometimes it does seem to release/uncover a loving side.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I went outside to see if I could hear "the pounding horses of love" but all I could detect was the wind and a lone magpie cackling like a witch.

David said...

I am continuing to follow the "once-viney tree" with great interest, now looking more beautiful than ever. And delighted to see it is recovering. I hope you continue to update us on its future progress. Just a bit of TLC is all that was required. There must be some kind of deeper message for all of us there.

Moving with Mitchell said...

Oh, Mrs. Kravitz could clearly work one's last nerve! Some non-essential workers are back at work here today. So the beach was cleaned as were the streets. I wonder if they'll start weeding soon. The brick and tile pavements have the look of ghost town. Weeds and things appearing prominently through the cracks.

Sabine said...

This is such a lovely post, Steve - apart from Mrs. Kravitz.

Sarah said...

That's so sweet that your Mum said that and I am sure she knows what she is saying.
I love the poem you found.

Edna B said...

I love the poem on the storefront. (is that where it is?) And your viney tree is absolutely gorgeous! As for Mom, well sometimes those words don't come easy for a different generation. As a child, I don't recall my brother and I ever hearing "I love you" from our parents. It's so important, and I make sure to say it to my children all the time. And they say it back to me. My grands and great grands do too. It's awesome. I'm so glad your Mom finally was able to say it to you. You are blessed my friend, hugs, Edna B.

Ms. Moon said...

And there's another thing about living in the country- there seems to be about the same amount of traffic as ever. In fact, everything looks normal as can be.
And yet, it is so not.

ellen abbott said...

that tree is so happy and thankful for your effort.

my dad suffered a stroke around 1980, give or take a year, and his aphasia was so bad he wouldn't even try to talk. his language did come back to him over time but the main thing was that the stroke changed him into a much nicer person. before, he was an unbearable know it all who tended to lecture rather than have a conversation. he eventually had another stroke which killed him outright.

Jennifer said...

It may be easier for your mom to express her feelings now. I'm certain she meant those words and I'm glad she could say them to you.

Anonymous said...

The quiet streets and that lovely poem, a wonderful combination. Those words from your mom tug at my heart. A sweet gift on Easter.

Sharon said...

That really is an amazing photo on Finchley Road. I like that poem you found. There is a webcam on Times Square and one on Fifth Ave. in NY and right now, it's very eerie to look at it. Times Square is NEVER that quiet.
I can understand your feelings when talking to your mom. I remember my dad going through his period of dementia. I remember reminding him of when we went to London together and he actually got angry and said "I've never been to London." In fact, for someone who loved traveling and had been all over the U.S., he couldn't remember even being at the Grand Canyon. Our conversations got to be pretty one-sided.
Your temperatures have been almost the same as here that last few days.

Allison said...

It's weird how dementia affects people. My brother was always a not very nice person, dementia removed all of his filters and he got worse. It was awful, one wanted to care about him, but he made it very difficult. Fortunately his wife was much better at it than I was.
London looks really weird with no cars. Traffic is down in Tucson, but not gone. I just read that my zip code is a virus hot spot. I think we're going to be driving to the other side of town for groceries.

The Bug said...

I love that poem - it feels like maybe it should be a song? I finally noticed much less traffic on my way to work today; however, in the south the Monday after Easter was often a holiday, so maybe that's what was going on (I had Friday off).

jenny_o said...

Ms Moon made an interesting point, that maybe in more populated areas things look different now, but in rural areas things look just the same. It seems to me that both "looks" make the current situation more surreal, but in different ways.

Your rescued tree is so pretty! You must feel pleased seeing how well it's doing.

Red said...

Interesting that you found little to no traffic. I wish the same thing happened here.

Catalyst said...

What is interesting about dementia is that the victims of it appear to be happier, to NOT be suffering from it. I'm reminded of the last days of Ronald Reagan, when he would go on accompanied walks in a park and smile and laugh.

John Going Gently said...

Keep safe x

Fresca said...

P.S. Reading about others who took a change for the better... dare one hope it might happen to Boris?

Steve Reed said...

Fresca: My mom, fortunately, is a "happy" dementia patient, as opposed to the angry ones. She laughs all the time. TOO often, really.

YP: I think you have to wait until Thursday evenings at 8 p.m.!

David: Doesn't it look good? I'm so happy with it. I've cut sprouting vines from its base three times now. Clearly I'll have to stay on top of those.

Mitchell: It must look very apocalyptic. I see that Spain's cases appear to be going down, which I hope means restrictions can loosen up a bit. (But not too much!)

Sabine: Thank you!

Sarah: I wish whoever wrote it had signed it or given some indication who's responsible. Then again, in its anonymity, it represents a message from all of us.

Edna: I think saying "I Love You" just wasn't a popular thing until the '70s. My mom always thought it was sort of silly.

Ms Moon: Well, in a way that's nice, but it could give a false sense of security to some, I suppose.

Ellen: I think that's why my mom laughs so much -- she can't really talk anymore. She can't formulate a sentence, though she can still say a few words here and there.

Jennifer: I'm glad too, honestly. They just surprised me!

Robin: It was a very interesting Easter!

Sharon: I think anger is a form of self-protection -- to angrily deny something they can't remember prevents them from seeing their own illness.

Allison: Yeah, it can go a lot of different ways. We really are very lucky that Mom is a "happy" patient.

Bug: Here, both Friday AND Monday are holidays. I'd never heard of Easter Monday before but it's a thing.

Jenny-O: I am very pleased, though I think the people who live in the house nearest the tree think I am a weirdo.

Red: The government very strenuously promoted the idea that we should stay home on Easter. I think there was a bit more traffic yesterday, which was Easter Monday.

Catalyst: Yeah, for some people it seems like a kind of release -- it's definitely given my mom a sort of devil-may-care attitude. Which she did NOT have when she was younger.

John: You too! I hope you're continuing to feel better.

Fresca: Well, he does seem to recognize his debt to the NHS. Perhaps that will lead to better funding?