Sad, depressing, dementia post

I visited my mom today, as I do nearly every Friday. And, like I usually do, I came away feeling sad.

I miss my mommy.

A few months ago, we moved her into a different board and care facility. It seemed to be serendipitous when we drove up and brought her for a site visit. The house was on Normandy so she wouldn’t be wrong (on her bad days, she reverts to believing it’s the 70s and she lives on Normandie), and there were calla lillies in the front yard (she loves callas). There was a piano in the living room (she played piano as a child) and some of the nurses used to work at the Masonic Home, so they were super nice. We got her approval and she moved in.

Mom is calmer now than she was at the old place, but she’s less alert. Her memory isn’t as good as it was at the old place either. She regularly asks me how my classes are going (I finished school 2 years ago), she asks me how my kids are (no kids for me), and she doesn’t remember a lot of her favorite things (like recipes she used to cook all the time, the words to her favorite songs, etc.).

It’s gotten to the point, now, that I dread visiting because I know that I’ll just end up really, really sad afterwards. Of course, I visit anyway because she needs that human contact with people who love her. I cry as I drive home almost every time.

What brought today’s sadness on was that I wanted to ask her advice about buying a house, and I couldn’t. I had to settle for asking about when she bought the house on Normandie, and the house I grew up in. She couldn’t remember anything. She didn’t remember looking at houses, what made her know that these houses were “the one”, her fears about the process… nothing. I tried not to let my sadness and disappointment show, but I think the other residents saw it. One lady gave me a sad smile when I looked away from mom for a minute.

I tried to finish the visit on a positive note. I don’t ever want her to feel that she has done something wrong, when she hasn’t. I talked about running, how hard DH is working, good things that are happening at work (even though I’m so upset at work right now I want to scream), the crock pot meals I’ve been cooking, the baseball tickets I have, etc. Then I told her I loved her, gave her a kiss and walked out the door. In tears.

It’s times like this – where something big is happening in my life – that I miss her most. People who haven’t had a loved one go through dementia/Alzheimers, don’t really understand. The body is there, but the mind (that thing that makes her who she is) is not. That’s what I’m mourning. That’s what I miss. That’s what makes me cry as I’m reminded every Friday when I visit.

I love you mom. I miss you, so much.

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Fridays

It’s funny how my Fridays almost always tend to be the same.

Every other Friday I take care of my mom in the mornings.  Basically I’m there to make sure she eats breakfast, takes her medications, gets to the bathroom and makes it back to bed when she’s ready for a break.  I tend to bring my dirty laundry with me and use the washer and dryer over there, mostly because it’s free (I have a community laundry at my apartment), but also because it keeps me busy.

On opposite Fridays I’m at home.  This is my chance to clean my apartment, relax a little, and enjoy the quiet.  People don’t always realize just how noisy libraries can be, then you add in the ambient noise that comes from driving home and the constant chatter in my brain…  by the time “my” Friday rolls around I’m ready for some quiet!

Today is a “Mom Friday.”  It’s taken her a little over an hour to get out of bed, but that’s almost normal for her.  I’m a lot like her: we both like to lay in bed long after we’re supposed to be up.  She’s eating her Cheerio’s, banana and coffee, while I’m typing away over here.  The laundry is going and it’s nice and quiet.  Well, except for her questions:

“What’s that over there on the floor?”
“Where’s Caramel/Flower/Niner?” (the cat/cat/dog)
“Can I have some pretzels?”
“How’s your husband?”
“Do you have any kids?  Are you sure?”
“What’s your last name?”
“How is school going?”
“Are you almost done planning the wedding?”
“Did I take all the pills in this bowl?”
“Can you help me back to bed?”
“Can I have a kiss?  I love you.”

Those questions used to bug the heck out of me.  Always the same questions, almost always in the same order, and always when I’m in the middle of something that needs concentration.  But strangely, they don’t bother me so much any more.  Maybe that’s because I can remember back to a time when she would answer our questions, but never ask any of her own.  Maybe it’s because I know that she’s trying to show that even though she can’t be there for everything she’s still interested in knowing what’s going on.  And maybe it’s because I’ve learned that showing that I love her means not being annoyed when our conversations are always the same.

Mom and me in 2007 when I got my BA

Well, it’s time to help her back to bed and continue doing laundry.  Gotta go!

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