The last few months have been challenging.
Over the summer, my mom began exhibiting symptoms of dementia. She had been misremembering little things, repeating herself, losing items - but this was different.
One day, she called my brother in a panic. She didn’t know where she was.
She was calling from home.
Thus began a sad and difficult journey. My mom is currently in a long-term memory care facility.
Fully lucid moments are becoming rarer. Dementia is an evil disease that robs you of the people you love - replacing them with a look-alike who has their memories all jumbled together in a big pile. Dementia manifests its particular brand of cruelty by letting you see glimpses of normalcy amid the confusion. It’s a horrible disease.
And, if I’m being honest, it is especially cruel because - for me - every visit triggers what I’ve admitted is my greatest fear.
As I said, the last few months have been challenging.
But there are bright spots - even in the darkest times. And generally, they find a way of showing up both unexpectedly and just when you need them.
One of those bright spots was a card sent several months “late,” yet arriving right on time yesterday. It’s funny how things like that seem to happen. So never worry about sending someone a belated card - because often, it will arrive when it’s needed the most.
The other bright spot needs a little explaining.
Those of you who know me personally will likely be shocked by this: I was a bit of a brat as a child.
I know, I know - it’s hard to believe.
My mom had a lot of little holiday decorations that got trotted out every year. My favorites were three sets of candle holders. It wasn’t that I was into holiday candle holders - I liked them because of the opportunity they presented.
You see, the three sets of candle holders were separate letters that each spelled out a word: SANTA, SNOW, and NOEL.
In case your anagram-fu is a little rusty, let me (literally) spell it out for you. Young Tom delighted in rearranging the letters to spell out that wonderful holiday phrase: SATAN OWNS LEON.
When we moved my mom into memory care, we took along several items of furniture, some pictures, and some knick-knacks so it would feel more like home. Then, whatever couldn’t go with her, we allowed children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to divide up. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten about one item that I had taken in all of the chaos and rush.
Due to scheduling issues and general busyness, some of our kids aren’t going to be able to make it home this Christmas. Instead, they’re coming home at Thanksgiving, so we’re going to have an early Christmas in November. My wife (who puts my mother to shame when it comes to Christmas decorations) also decided to decorate early.
I visited my mom yesterday. She recognized me.
It was a good day.
When I got home from the memory care center, there was a card waiting for me.
It was an even better day.
Last night, I walked into our kitchen and discovered that my wife had placed the four Christmas candle holders I’d taken from my mom’s house on the windowsill above our sink. But she’d made a mistake - they spelled out the word NOEL.
I fixed them.
It was a perfect day.
Owner, Principal Consultant
Bad Wolf Security, LLC
Senior Technical Engineer
November 9, 2021
Addendum (11/14/21): I was thinkin' (I do that sometimes….), maybe I was mistaken. Maybe it should have been SATAN OWNS LENO. (That would finally explain the whole Tonight Show gig.)
Better still, SATAN OWNS ELON, which would explain a lot.