When you don't know how to approach someone, I let the camera do the work and bridge that disconnection I feel with her. I always keep a camera close to capture my mom at different moments, digital, film, instant, all they do the job for me. She no longer recognizes her own image, if I show her a photo of her, she only shrugs wondering who that person is. I tell her, this is you, in her mind, I think she believes she is young and not an 80-year-old woman. And when I tell her I'm her daughter, she just smiles in disbelief and for a moment recognizes me and goes back to singing, as she always does.
There is only one person in this world that my mother will never forget, my dad, her husband, or as she calls him "the Doctor." She is all smiles, and her face changes when she sees him, happiness and love invades her being. We always tell her, he is your husband, and she doesn't believe him or us, and giggles, the only thing she knows is that she likes him a lot.
Me: “I’m going to take your picture, ma”
Mom: “ ….”