Iowa Writes

BECKY SOGLIN
Soon


My mother and I keep having the same conversation. Not the kind where you poke at fundamental differences, long-standing grievances, or unmet expectations. No, we keep having same conversation because my mother has memory loss.

She asks: Where do you live, what do you do, do they pay you well, how far is your home from where I live, and how do you get here? The answers to all of these questions have been the same for nearly ten years, and until three years ago, she knew the answers. In fact, she didn't even ask the questions.

Now, she asks. Sometimes five or six times in the same conversation. For that reason, before I pick up the phone to call her I think of something new to tell her. We had an ice storm and a forty-foot limb fell down in our neighbors' yard. (Still, this may lead to: Where do you live?) We got a new couch. It's very nice, and we hope the cats don't scratch it to bits. (This may lead to: Do they pay you well?)

We used to discuss politics, wars, books, other family members' situations, okay, gossip. But she can't read well or retain. Once in a while, she'll read from a note she's jotted down: "Emily's daughter. Teri. Cancer." And I'll help her fill in the information. If I know. Sometimes the note remains a cipher to us both.

My mother and I keep having the same conversation. Not the kind where you poke at fundamental differences, long-standing grievances, or unmet expectations. No, we keep having same conversation because my mother has memory loss.

She asks: Where do you live, what do you do, do they pay you well, how far is your home from where I live, and how do you get here? The answers to all of these questions have been the same for nearly ten years, and until three years ago, she knew the answers. In fact, she didn't even ask the questions.

Now, she asks. Sometimes five or six times in the same conversation. For that reason, before I pick up the phone to call her I think of something new to tell her. We had an ice storm and a forty-foot limb fell down in our neighbors' yard. (Still, this may lead to: Where do you live?) We got a new couch. It's very nice, and we hope the cats don't scratch it to bits. (This may lead to: Do they pay you well?)

We used to discuss politics, wars, books, other family members' situations, okay, gossip. But she can't read well or retain. Once in a while, she'll read from a note she's jotted down: "Emily's daughter. Teri. Cancer." And I'll help her fill in the information. If I know. Sometimes the note remains a cipher to us both.

Yet always she tells me, "Give Rusty a hug and a kiss." Rusty, my husband, is something new, to all of us, in the past few years. Somehow she always knows his name and unprompted will ask about him. I'm grateful for this, and it keeps me from thinking about when she might need to be told who he is or who I am.

For now, she knows he belongs to me, to her, to us. Sometimes she asks, "When will you get married?" And I remind her, gently, "Oh, remember, we had a wedding party, last fall." And then, if I sense she wants to hear more, I recount where and who was there and how good the food was. And I can tell by the tone of her "Oh, yeses" whether she really can remember the day. Sometimes she does, more often not.

It doesn't matter. All I wanted was for her to be there, and she was. And still is. Changed but still here.

Tonight I should call my mother. Nothing much is new except I have a cold. She may say she'd take care of me if she could be there. And then she may ask how far away do I live and when will I come visit. Like always, I say "soon." Because it always is.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


BECKY SOGLIN

Becky Soglin is a graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program. She has published creative work and book reviews in North Dakota Quarterly, Iowa Woman, 100 Words, Icon, The Des Moines Register, and The Christian Science Monitor.

This page was first displayed
on May 29, 2007

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