Frantically, I heard the sounds of somebody rummaging in the garage. The door of the washing machine was repeatedly being opened and thrown closed, as if with anger. I couldn't think why mom was even doing the washing on a Sunday - I always did it for her, anyway, since she becamse unable. Rolling my eyes, a slight smile creeping at the sides of my mouth, I followed my feet into the laundry to see what she was doing.
"Shit," she whispered as she opened the door to the machine. "Shit. Lucie is going to -"
"Kill you? Laugh at you? Throw you to the dogs?"
She jumped, slamming the door again in fright. "You scared me, baby."
"What are you shitting about?"
She sighed, sitting herself on her bottom in the middle of the laundry in surrender. Resting her head in her hands, she sighed deeply, as if defeated by a battle she had never expected to win. Without looking at me, she said, "I didn't put washing powder in the machine."
"Did you forget?"
"Yes. Yes, I did."
"Well, that's not so bad, is it? I can just put some in for you now, we'll wash them again. It's no bother."
"Look. Come here, Lucie, and look at what I did to the clothes."
I rolled my eyes a second time, not impatiently, but at how she becomes so flustered at the tiniest of things. Once, she put the butter in the freezer and the cereal in the fridge and I came down one morning watching her crunch hard, solid boulders of Nesquik cereal and trying to spread rock butter on her toast. When she realised what she had done, she burst into sad, lonely tears as if I'd told her our cat had died.
When I got to the machine, I opened the door, expecting to see a pile of unclean, wet clothes. Instead, our white washing was stained with a horrible brown so that it looks like our un-dead cat has crapped all over our clothes.
"Shit, mom. What is that?" Helplessly, she shrugged her shoulders, and as I opened the panel where the washing powder should have been, I found nothing. I noticed a bottle sitting on the worktop above the machine, and upon inspection, I discovered the source of the cat crap clothes. "You put chocolate sauce in the machine to wash our clothes?"
"I guess I did."
We both laughed, because even though Mother forgets a lot of things a lot of the time, even she understands how stupid this is. "Washed the clothes with chocolate sauce!" She screeches hysterically, and for the first time in a very long time, I feel like I've got my old Mom back again. I've missed her so, so much.
Lucie's Mother is ill - she has a weaker form of Alzheimer's disease which effects her memory, meaning that she frequently becomes confused, forgets things and often doesn't recognise her daughter's habits, her daughter's diabetic procedures and the faces of friends.