Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It has been so long since I last saw this woman pictured above that I forget what she was like.  I haven't been writing much, mostly because I haven't had anything to say.  I can't find my sense of humor anymore when it comes to Alzheimer's and it feels like all my thoughts about it are pretty maudlin.
Many of the people that live with my mom have been dying lately....some of them I have written about here.  My mother doesn't say much anymore or at least is quiet when I'm around.  I spent a couple hours with her last Saturday morning and the only thing she said in two hours was,  "Enough".  I don't know if it was a statement or a question, but I concur.

When we started this journey, I think I believed that people die when they are finished learning what it is they were supposed to learn and likewise when they were done teaching others what they were supposed to teach.  I'm not sure anymore.  I've learned some powerful things about myself since my moms illness took hold but not clear if she was the teacher or the disease was the teacher.  My mom has learned to let others care for be less independent, certainly something she cringed at in her previous life.  As we move forward, I find myself believing less and less in making meaning out of this process.  It's awful, it sucks and aside from the death of my father, it is the worst thing I have ever witnessed or experienced.  Enough said!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Mother's Daughter

I put the saran wrap away in the fridge the other night.  As soon as I shut the door, turned around and saw my husband looking at me with a funny look on his face....I knew.  I walked into a room the other day with great purpose only to find that I had forgotten what my mission was.  Sometimes, and this is no lie, I call my cell phone just so I can find it.  Am I becoming my mothers daughter after all?  We both love shoes, vacations and sappy chick flicks.  Unlike my mother, I have not recently hallucinated any men in the tree in my front yard.  Time will tell I suppose.  I have certainly thought about our genes from time to time,  though I must admit that I believe that as we all live longer...we will all start howling at the moon at some point.  I exercise my brain, I stopped smoking anything illegal in 1980 and I surround myself with family and friends that are at least half as funky as I.

I'm thinking hormones are to blame for the saran wrap and other questionable acts. for me.  Now, if I could just find where I parked my car...........................

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Sundowning refers to the late day confusion that many folks in care facilities experience at the end of the day shift.  Afternoon shadows appear like frightening black holes in their path.  Many will not walk over a shadow or will stand fearfully at its edge till someone helps them move along.  Walking onto my mothers unit at this time of day is to walk into chaos of the mind.  A schizophrenic feast of disorder and delusion.

Ben is on his hands and knees in the corner, staring intently at the wall, while Ralph screams for help insisting he is dying.  When he doesn't get a response from staff, he starts singing dirty Irish limericks.  Tilly implores me to help her as I pass by her wheelchair....she insists her legs have been broken and can I please help her leave.  In the TV room looking like a picture of normalcy, Agnes sits alone watching her show.  It's only when I see that she is watching Glenn Beck that the true horror of Alzheimer's is revealed.  I have a seemingly normal conversation with George about his love for dogs, especially his collie.  After a 5 second pause, he reintroduces himself and begins the story again.  Roast pork and stuffing were on the menu this evening and by all appearances, on every ones face and lap as well.  The residents are lined up in rows in the rec room as meds are passed out.  In a short while, staff will ready each one for bed.

I find my mother amongst the crowd.  Tonight, I am someone she knows.  Her face lights up and she pats my hand, expressing concern that I might be cold.  I reassure her I am fine and she offers to make me supper.  I don't get a sense that she knows I am her daughter, but I know that I am someone she loves.  She beseeches me to take her home, so I push her around the unit which seems to appease her need to go.  When finally I stop, she asks if I will return soon.  I promise to be there when she wakes and whisper a soft "I love you" against her cheek.  As I always do when leaving, I turn back for one last look and tonight am rewarded with a soft kiss that she blows my way.  Tonight I was someone she knew.