Taking Care of Mom

22 Nov

Slowly my mother has slipped into a type of dementia that is not named, but seems to be a sort of twilight of her former self. A lot of the behaviors are there, she even sounds like herself, yet much of the time the reasoning, the immediate recognition, awareness, and the short term memory is not there. She remembers the past, in fits and starts, yet often can not verbalize what she is thinking. It really doesn’t frustrate her or make her angry any more, however the anxiety she battled all her life is still present. (Warning, one ought to deal with ones ‘demons’, or they may just be what rules one in one’s old age.) When this started happening, we have no idea. Why it happened? We don’t know. It could be the chemotherapy she went through in her mid – sixties, it could be the result of diet and nutrient loss (B12 and V D are big players here), it could be the result of Anxiety Disorder, it could be the mini – strokes we suspect she may have had/ could still be having… That all can add up to an altered state. She hides things well and always has, she never liked feeling loss of control, and did not want to deal with the painful past. I can not blame her yet I feel she could have been different now had some things been different. I don’t know, and can’t know either. At this stage, I just have to take the lessons and apply them to my own life, and then, accept. Accept who she is now, and take it from there….

And so one Tuesday night she and I spent time together while my father was at a meeting. We took a walk and admired the fall flora and fauna (pictures on my Instagram account). We made and ate dinner ( I had to cajole her to eat her brussels sprouts, a true roll reversal if there ever was one.). Then we had a killer game of Connect Four, with rules revised on the spot by me. It took an hour, and lots of reminders, but it kept her busy and out of mischief, and was a fantastic idea I’m still not convinced was my own (it came to me while driving on an errand). Then to wrap it all up I offered her the choice of television or music – I had brought my violin. She chose the violin, so I played her a selection of fiddle tunes ~old time, bluegrass, Irish… and she applauded. Mistakes and tuning up were seen as lovely, so it freed me to just play without concern or worry, a small gift of an appreciative non – judgmental audience.

This has been a mighty adjustment on my part, and it still requires a lot of time spent in prayerful musings, letting go and analysis of the past. Many realizations have come to light due to my work to help them clear some of the many, many things my parents, especially my mother, collected, held on to, saved, as well as encountering some less known items. Nothing dire, yet still surprising, and it all changes the knowledge one holds, which in turn means one has to think things though, readjust the so called ‘truths’ one has held regarding one’s parents.

It’s difficult for me to sometimes go to my parents house, and being asked to stay when my father leaves town is doubly difficult. In part, it is because of who he is and how he delivers that desire (or need), but it is also the awareness that this is a fading, an ending. Really we have no control over the ending any more than we’ve ever had control, such an illusion in life that we have any semblance of control! This is how it ought to be. I’m the caretaker now, filling in where a parent might. That is the unsettling part, the bit that makes me drag my feet thought I know I must put much aside to do that, because even though my mother isn’t who she was, she is who she is, she is my mother.

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