That’s what I feel like saying to my mother.
I had planned on giving an account of the nursing home experience, but that will wait. Today, I’m grieving. I’m grieving for the mother I knew, the mother who raised me, in a really big way. And I wonder how much longer I can hang in here, caring for my parents.
Of course, we have all been watching the recent events unfolding in the news – the quakes in New Zealand, and now the quakes and tsunami in Japan; the unrest in the middle east. These things are disturbing and sad on a huge scale. I find myself affected by the constant videos of the tsunami in Japan, now, with whole villages washed away, bodies washing up, family members missing. I cry, watching it.
Then there is the washing away happening here in my house. The tsunami of Alzheimer’s/dementia, ripping the foundations of my mother’s mind and allowing the pieces to be lost and buried in the mud, leaves shadows of what my mother used to be. I search for the person who taught me how to drive with such patience. I long for the mother who cooked, and hugged, and discussed things with me, the mother who could read a book and understand it. It’s a disaster, a natural disaster, and it’s tearing me to pieces, too.
Last night, I got my mom to bed and said good-night. As usual, she called me in for one thing or another after I had left. Then, an hour later, she called me in and said “Will you turn on the tv?” Really? Why do you want to have the tv on? My dad mumbled that it was okay with him, and there were some things taped she could watch, but I was pretty sure something else was going on.
I said shh to dad and asked again, why do you want the tv on? She said “to see what’s going on in Japan”. At 9 pm when she’s normally asleep. I said that Japan would be there in the morning, that she should go to sleep.
Mom woke me at 2:15 this morning and told me the clock was way off. I said How so? She said, well, it’s 7 o’clock. I said no, it isn’t. The clock is exactly right. IT’S JUST AFTER 2 IN THE MORNING!!! Oy. She asked when she should get up… I said 7.
Then she woke me at 4:20 and said “is this close enough to 7? and I said um NO, it’s not!! She said how close does it have to be to 7? I said at least 6 but preferably ACTUALLY 7!!
At 6 o’clock…. Sigh. The day began. After I got them breakfast and settled in front of the TV I went upstairs and wiped out, because thankfully it is one of the days the home health person comes. She was very confused most of the day.
I found out tonight that she blames me for her waking me up at 2 and 4. I told her Saturday night about the time change, and said “now don’t wake me up until 7 tomorrow, because 7 is what 6 was this morning” and she said “what will you do if I wake you up before 7?” and I jokingly said “I’ll have to strangle you”. That was SATURDAY night.
So, Sunday she woke me at 7. Good, huh? Fast-forward to THIS morning, and she was convinced I’d told her I was going to change the clocks and that I wanted her to get up at 6 (this is her explanation this evening) so she was keeping track of the time because I had changed the clocks and she needed to get up on time. Or something like that. She told me never to do that again. It was MY fault???
This is how her mind works, now. She doesn’t like the shower because it’s not like the one she had at home. She says in her old shower she could stand up. You can stand up in the shower we have, but she can’t stand for any length of time, so we have a shower chair. If she has a pain anywhere, there has to be something seriously wrong. If she doesn’t feel well, she’s sick.
I’ve been trying hard to remember what my mother was like before. I’m struggling. I’m sad. Is this really better than dieing? Living in such deep depression, losing your mind piece by piece? Really?