Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mom channels Nardwuar

My 82 year old Mom and I play around with language a lot. She suffers from aphasia from her stroke of 2009, and has a hard time articulating herself; she's regained a lot of her ability in the last four years but she's likely running around 50% of her pre-stroke speech ability or less, and she occasionally still loses control of her sentences. Though sometimes she gets frustrated with herself, and ends up growling and shaking her fist in rage at her difficulties, sometimes she just surfs along with her errors, producing nonsense syllables - "I want buy me... some... co... ku? ... ker... kogodoogoodoo!" She then laughs at herself and tries again, which is probably healthier for her than getting angry. I try to encourage this sort of playfulness a bit, as a coping mechanism, so sometimes we have short conversations of nothing but nonsense - for instance, in well-routinized social circumstances, as when I'm calling to say hello, instead of the usual "how are you"/ "I'm fine," we might have something like:

Allan: Habadoo?
Mom: Ackackack.  

...Which serves the purpose just as well, though perhaps wouldn't make a lot of sense to a bystander.  We also have various routines that make things easier for her. She raises her cup and points into the kitchen and I know it's code for, "make me a cup of tea," for instance; no language required. At other times, we employ set phrases that she's gotten down pat, like when we say goodnight to each other: she stands at the door and says, "toodaloo!" and I say "toodaloo" back.

She usually doesn't have trouble with phrases that she uses often, but tonight, at the door, instead of "toodaloo," she said something a lot more like, "doot doola doot doo."

To which I responded "doot doo." Hearing which, she broke into a laugh; the pop culture dimension of the transaction was lost to her - she has no clue who Nardwuar is, I'm sure - but she enjoyed the moment no less.

I, however, do indeed know who Nardwuar is, so I went, "doot doola doot doo" myself, and she went "doot doo" right back at me, having fun with it.

I would like to thank Nardwuar for this sweet moment with my Mom.

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