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Good Girl

My mom now takes me by the hand like a child. She has been warned by my dad to always “wait for someone” before she goes down the front steps so she doesn’t fall. Sometimes she argues with my dad for always telling her what to do.

Not for this, though. She says, “I better unintelligible syllables…so he don’t…more unintelligible syllables.” She doesn’t want to get in trouble, but also she knows she might fall. So she reaches for my hand as my sister and I did when we were being good, way back when it was we who were the innocent, trusting ones.

I said “unintelligible syllables” because I didn’t want to tell you that my beautiful, sweet mother now stammers and repeats like a little girl learning to talk. You know when they say streams of sounds with the proper inflection of speech but without the words yet properly formed?

That’s how my mom speaks, now that she has Alzheimer’s. We know what she means, usually, because we are family. It’s heartbreaking to see the nervous blank faces of others when she tries to talk to them. She thinks her words are coming out right.

Today I spent a fun weekend with my mom and dad. I am grateful that, from her jumbled brain, the syllables Li-sa still make it out of her mouth in the proper order, as her eyes light up when I walk in the door.

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