Midnight Caller

My mother wants a phone. “If I only had a communication device,” she laments. It’s become her daily mantra.

She misses grasping the receiver, hearing a familiar voice on the other end. For years, the landline was her lifeline. It kept her company when she stopped driving. It reassured her I was alive. She rehearsed conversations, cleverly scripted to prove she was normal while Alzheimer’s stripped away her identity.

She struggles to come up with the word, but she remembers the comfort a phone represents. Besides church, it’s the only thing I wish she’d forget.

I hate phones. Robocalls aside, I prefer my conversations face-to-face. Even though I visit her every day, she forgets. My efforts to refocus have failed; I finally caved.

And so, the dementia-friendly phone patiently waits, ready to unleash fear-laden midnight calls upon a sleeping daughter.

Sex & The City

My mother has a boyfriend and they’re inseparable.

It happened when I left for ten days on an out-of-town petsitting job— the longest I’d been away since she’s been in her memory care home. When I returned, there they were, sitting together on the patio love seat.

She’s giddy, obsessed. “Am I wearing enough lipstick? How’s my hair?” she asks, when he knocks on her door. As I let him in, I’m struck by another Freaky Friday reverse parenting moment. Did she feel the same apprehension when I went to the freshman dance with my first boyfriend? When a college boy took me to a concert?

“They’re definitely an item,” says my favorite staff housekeeper. When I ask if she’s ever walked in on a romantic moment between residents, she grins. “At one assisted living place. . . ” She half-kneels, pointing to her mouth.

How could I not laugh?

Upta Camp

It’s the first summer in years we won’t be at camp, and I have to wonder: Is it really summer without camp?

In Maine, we say we’re going “upta camp”—what flatlanders would call a lake house, cabin or cottage.

Enjoyed by family for four generations, camp is my rock. The place where I embrace the extended step-family who grounded me so many years ago, offering a semi-normal life with a brother, grandparents, aunts, nieces, another mother.

Camp is sunrise on the deck with my brother; tubing behind the jetski; chocolate donuts and Orange Crush; kayaking at sunset. Camp is where I snuck out as a teen to meet the boys. And it’s where I unwittingly began writing morning pages two years ago.

At camp, we undock our worries and let them drift away.

Camp is a state of mind.