We've all had those moments: What am I doing?
In the supermarket, in the upstairs bedroom/store room, in the garage...that blank moment when you think: now, why did I come here? What am I doing?
I saw Okaasan having a chain of blanks the other day as the summer routine of Hanging Out Laundry foxed her.
The weather has been shite until now. There were even tulips in snow in east Hokkaido last week, so hanging laundry outside in Sapporo hasn't been possible for almost 6 months.
I've done most of the laundry for us and Okaasan, hanging it upstairs and giving Okaasan back piles of dried clothes.
But Okaasan loves hanging out laundry. It is one of the few domestic activities she actually seems to enjoy and do with care.
Outside her living room, big sliding doors is a large cement step leading down to the garden, and the laundry stand is set up there, kind of in full view of everyone who walks by in the street, but it is the sunniest place.
In summer Okaasan slides open the window/door on the left and puts on outside slippers, steps out and hangs laundry with precision. Her laundry. My laundry. The neighbors' laundry, if she had the chance.
Nobody hangs laundry like Okaasan. There is a system for it all.
But 6 months have passed.
The other day I gave her a bowl of clean and damp panties and one of those circular peg frame-things, so she could welcome spring by pegging out her own laundry for the first time this year.
She pegged them in the room. On the indoor clothes stand.
Then stood. And stood some more, looking at them. Looking at the half-closed curtains. Standing some more.
From afar in the kitchen I realized: no outdoor slippers!
I rushed to get them from the house entrance cupboard.
Burst into Okaasan's room and gave them to her. Showed her how to open the window, showed her the slippers and the laundry stand outside.
She looked as though it was all first time.
Those slippers? Using that door? That laundry stand?
Can I go outside wearing my nightdress like this?
Yes, yes! You can, you do, the neighbors don't mind! You did this last year every day didn't you?
But of course she didn't remember.
A blank about how to go about the hanging stuff outside routine.
Finally she got the ..hang... of it and stepped outside to set about lining up corners and hanging it all just-so, eyeing my badly hung laundry nearby as usual and waiting till I'd disappeared upstairs to rearrange things.
Back on track for a summer of laundry hanging.
But strange and sad: a small, pleasurable routine which seemed to be a blank till she was reminded how to put the essential elements together.
I've read about this, how dementia sufferers lose the ability to do familiar routines...bit by bit...so that in the end teeth brushing or putting on clothes is a mystery.
Okaasan is far from that, I think, but it was definitely a blank moment.
I have this laundry on these pegs...there is something about outside and sunshine...and the window...and outside...and this laundry.