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.


  1. It's good to be known by someone who loves you in the core of her being. Mutual, I'm sure.

  2. Small gesture, great warmth.
    You and she are both rewarded.

  3. A lovely day with her. Sometimes they're few and far between, enjoy.