Dementia, Life



My mum is a very intelligent woman.  She has been completing crosswords all my life. My Dad and my mum used to do this together and it could be very amusing to witness.  My dad was not as good at spelling as my mum, so he would know the answer but not know how to spell it.  Likewise, mum might not know an answer but my dad would. They had great times doing this for years. They bought two different papers every day just for the crosswords.


Since my dad died in 2010, my mum has had to rely on help from my brother; my aunty and me when I visited. Since living here this has become a ritual in the afternoon. I confess having to rely on my mobile and google, on many an occasion, to finish the puzzle.


But doing the crossword, now my mums memory is letting her down, can be challenging. Asking clues interspersed with “where’s Tommy” our pet tortoise.  Since it is winter he has not moved from his comfy space behind the sofa and near the radiator. He only comes out for food occasionally. But mum constantly asks where he is.




So, we are set up doing the crossword and my mum amazes me with her knowledge and experience of crosswords and knowledge of words I have never heard of.   


Slow music? She asks.  Is it largo?  I haven’t a clue, but on checking agree that she is right.  I am amazed at how much her long-term memory is holding. She asks another clue and then I try and look up the answer.  I find it.  I say the answer.  She then looks at me dazed and asks “what did I ask you?”.  She then gets more puzzled as she cannot find the right place to put it on the grid. “I’ve lost it” she says.


“Where’s Tommy”.  I reassure that he is safely behind the sofa.


Once the clue is found we identify how many spaces it has, whether there are any letters in it.  Sometimes she gets confused and reads out the wrong clue, but we eventually complete it and off we go again.  This repeats several times until the crossword is nearing completion.  She then gets frustrated if I am unable to help, as I have moved on to another topic on my mobile or laptop.  She throws the paper aside and exclaims. “I can’t do it today”.   She looks around concerned and enquires “where’s Tommy?”




I ask her to repeat the clue she cannot get and we return to the process. She stares unseeing at the paper, then finally finds the missing clue and I produce the answer thanks to google.  “Oh, yes she says, of course”.


When we finish the crossword, she looks at me very pleased. “We’ve don’t it”. She exclaims with glee.   “Where’s Tommy?”






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