Thursday, September 15, 2011
I slipped in for a quick visit after dinner last night. I'm back to work for the academic year now, so will visit more in the evenings than the mornings. To my surprise, my mother was in the group area with eyes open. My mother is one of very few residents with Alzheimer's. Her peers for the most part are in residence due to age, mobility and being alone in the world. I am conscious of their scrutiny when I come to visit....they watch my interactions with my mother carefully. Few ever speak to me but 12 pairs of eyes often speak louder than words. I wheel my mother out to the porch for what is perhaps the last warm evening of summer. The porch area looks over the quiet neighborhood and the nearby elementary school playground. We hold hands, she and I, and I am rewarded with an occasional squeeze. She does not speak, but on three occasions she opened her eyes, looked out over the yard and then apparently overwhelmed with the whole view, slammed her eyes shut. I suspect she is retreating further away as the world around her becomes more and more confusing. We sit awhile longer and I eventually wheel her back into the group area. There is a spirited four hand game of cards in the corner, a small group watching Jeopardy and several residents giving me that careful scrutiny I mentioned. Apparently I have passed the test I did not know I was taking. The card players stop their game as the room watches me say goodnight to my mother. It's always the same, a kiss on her forehead, a squeeze to her hand and an "I love You" in her ear. I back away ready to depart and about 12 residents in unison tell me "she opened her eyes today dear, don't you worry we are taking good care of her". Farewell and drive safe wishes are called out as I made my way to the door. They have her back and apparently it seems ....mine as well.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
My mother moved to her new place 3 weeks ago today. She has the equivalent of bed sores on the back of her legs, probably from so much time in a wheelchair. She has been in bed a great deal since the move so as to give her legs a chance to heal. Until yesterday she has been keeping her eyes closed and I did not know if I would ever look into her eyes again. The animals have been keeping watch. Angus does an hourly walk through and sometimes even sprawls on the floor next to her bed. I arrived one afternoon last week to find a tiny dachshund stretched out along side with his chin on her shoulder. I do not know if she knew of his presence. Yesterday while I was there, she opened her eyes for about 15 seconds, seemed to be fretting about something and ultimately grabbed my hand and whispered..."save me". I stroked her cheek, held her hand and her eyes slowly closed again.
Is this our next step in this process? She is retreating inward more and more each day. Each new decline, a mystery revealing itself.
I make an appointment with my lawyer to redo my will, my health care directives and my end of life wishes. I cannot save her, but perhaps I can save myself.