Anna Karenina and my mother

This last week I’ve spend in Belgium. Belgium, very cold and snowy during the past week,  is my country of birth and I have lived here for most of my life.  As most of you know, these days I live in Ottestad, Norway.  Every few months I come home to Belgium, mainly to visit my mother. Her name is Laila. I am the only relative she has, except for her sister who is a bit older than her. The sister isn’t able to visit her at all these days.   moeder

Mother has dementia, she received this diagnose from a sincere but distant doctor in 2004. When visiting my mother, lots of times I find it quite hard to find things to do with her. She has never been much of a talker but nowadays she has lost the ability to find words or put them in the right order almost completely. Talking with her about something is actually not possible. (f.i. last time I gave her an ice cream and asked her as a test: ‘Is this ice cream sweet or sour ?’ the answer she gave me whilst smiling was : ‘Yes’… 🙂 … When I told her it probably was sweet she looked at me understanding and nodded ‘yes’. When she was asked again 30 seconds later she couldn’t say …)

Every second day while I am in Belgium I try to visit her. So, when I visited mother on the third day, after having showed her pictures of Norway and having watched some tv with her (which she doesn’t understand) I felt tired and out of inspiration.  Entertaining somebody like her is not always easy …. My heart told me to read with her. Before, I had tried reading gossip magazines out loud, but I found every time that I had tried it I just had gotten tired with it and my mother never really got interested. This time I had something else.

Someone had recommended and given me a book to read… I started reading it out loud in ‘clear’ Norwegian, somewhere about page 20  … ‘– Hun er jo glad i barnet mitt, tenkte Stepan Arkadjitsj da han så det myke uttrykket i ansiktet hennes. – Hvordan kan hun da hate meg ?‘… and so on … mother listened to every word with lights in her eyes as I read about Stepan Arkadjitsj trying to glue the broken pieces of his marriage back together. When I looked at her, she looked like she understood everything I said.  At one point I felt her concern for Stefan Arkadjitsj.  ‘Off course it only lasts for just a few seconds and then it fades away’, I thought,  but still … it was so pleasing to see her. She loved hearing Norwegian and she loved the story although she doesn’t know head from toes.   Together we read several pages and the joy in the expression on her face was complete.

Tomorrow I’ll go and visit her again before going back home(Norge) the day after tomorrow.  Probably we’ll read some more in Tolstoj’s  ‘Anna Karenina’. Possibly this time she will not like it at all or … maybe she will, sometimes it is like that. Tomorrow is a new day, Stepan Arkadjitsj still wil have difficulties in his marriage … mother will still be in her home … and God changes us little by little every day.