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Showing posts from June, 2019
Stolen Time
I was visiting Mom and waiting out in the hallway as they finished dressing her.
One of the residents, who I thought of as the cat lady because she was always clutching a bedraggled plush cat, wheeled herself over to me.Normally she wanted me to admire her cat, but this time she handed me a piece of paper.I scanned it.It appeared to be from the memory care facility files.It had personal information on it, such as her name, social security number and so forth.
“How old am I?” she asked
“Well, let’s see,” I said.I found the date of birth on the paper-1934- and deducted it from 2019. I double-checked the math in my head to make sure it was correct before I answered her.
“You are 85 years old!” I said cheerfully.“You’ll be 86 in a few weeks!I bet they will give you a birthday party.That’ll be fun, won’t it?”
I was hoping to make her smile, but instead her eyes filled with tears and she hung her head.
“I thought I was 75 years old,” she said.  "I don't know what happe…

Struggling with Guilt

Struggling with Guilt
“I could never put my mother in a nursing home.”
“Don’t you feel guilty having strangers take care of your mother?”
“I’ve heard horror stories about what goes on in those places.”
At first I felt shamed by people’s reactions.Then I felt the need to defend myself.Following that, I was angry that I felt the need to defend myself.
If you are like me, you struggled with your decision.It wasn’t one that you made lightly.It’s not as though I dropped my mother at the door with a paper bag of belongings and scurried away, leaving no contact information.
If you are caring for your loved one at home, I respect you for your commitment.  I'm not in a position where I can care for Mom on a full time basis.  So I spent months visiting different places with Mom until we found the best accommodations for her.I visit frequently, sometimes with no advance warning, to monitor the care she receives.
People who aren’t in your situation will try to make you feel guilty, no matter…

Enjoying the Nectar

Enjoying the Nectar
We used to have a humming bird feeder on our deck.A particular hummingbird decided that it was his personal feeder.He would hover over it and if any other hummingbirds came close, he would chase them off.He didn’t really have time to enjoy the nectar.He was too busy making sure nobody else enjoyed the nectar.
Mom, especially as her Alzheimer’s progressed, lived her life like the hummingbird.She would watch her neighbors suspiciously through the front window trying to catch them in the act of theft or vandalism rather than greeting them with a kind word.She would stand on her deck with a broom so that she could chase away birds before they pooped on her property, rather than enjoy the color and music they contributed to her view.
After she was moved to a memory care facility, a day that I’m sure her neighbors celebrated, we began clearing out her home in order to sell it.We found jewelry and money in her valances.Her favorite turquoise dress was wrapped in a paper …

Mother's Day

Mother's Day
Searching for the perfect card for Mother’s Day can be difficult when your mom suffers from Alzheimer’s.Hallmark should make a series of cards just for that situation:
Mom, I’m sorry you can’t remember my name, but I hope you remember that I love you.Mother, remember the time we…? Oh, never mind.Dear Mama, I know you think I’m stealing your money, but I’m not.Really.Hey Mom, if you can’t find your purse, it’s probably under the mattress.The same place you always hide it.Mom, I remember you before you had Alzheimer’s.I remember the boo boos you kissed, the drawings we made together, the made up bedtime stories you told and the Easter dresses you sewed.I remember You. She is still my mother, whether she remembers who I am or not.  She will always be my mother.  Because of my faith, I believe that when we are reunited in Heaven and our eyes meet, she will once again look upon me with recognition and love.
Until then, happy mother&#…

Misplaced Anger

Misplaced Anger
After Dad died, visits to the lake place became bittersweet.All our memories involved Dad: drifting in the pontoon boat, watching the fireworks from the deck, charcoaling burgers.
My sisters and I weren’t surprised when Mom decided to sell it.She never loved it the way Dad did.She and nature didn’t get along too well.She was fearful of the sun damaging her skin, the wind messing up her hair and the birds pooping on her deck.
In order for Mom to sell it, we needed to clear it out.We planned one last family weekend at the lake place to help Mom pack.We pictured a quiet weekend of reminiscing about Dad.
But Mom ruined it.She complained if we took a break to enjoy the view.She snapped at us if we dirtied a glass.She accused us of stealing items that she couldn’t find.
By the time we left Sunday morning, anger consumed my thoughts.On the long drive home, I vented to my husband how Mom destroyed the weekend.How my memories of the lake place were ruined.
After a couple of ho…

Alzheimer's Bingo

Alzheimer's Bingo
While visiting Mom today I decided to join the other Alzheimer’s residents for a game of Bingo. It went something like this:

Bingo Caller: B9.

Gertrude: Did you say D9?

Other players start frantically looking for D9 on their cards.

Mabel: No, she said B9.

Gertrude: (sounding garbled): What???

Mabel: (Shouting) B9! B9!

Bingo Caller: Gertie, did you put your hearing aids in your mouth again?

Gertrude (still garbled): Huh??

Bingo Caller: Spit them out, please.

Mabel: Shit them out? That could take days!

Bingo Caller: sigh...

Mom: What are we doing?

Me: Playing Bingo.

Amy, the aide, sticks her hand out and Gertie obediently spits out the hearing aids. Amy dries them with a towel and puts them back in Gertie’s ears.

All the ladies look around in confusion wondering what is holding up the game.

Bingo Caller: Ok, next number is N43.

Mabel points at Margaret's card, rolls her eyes and announces in a superior tone: You missed one! Put a jelly bean on N…