“Life with Mom”
My mother’s confusion surfaces every day…sometimes multiple times a day. And her bewilderment usually surrounds her home, or in her mind, her lack of a home. She told me yesterday that she needs to find a place to rent because she’s too old to buy something now. And after that, she guesses she needs to start looking for a nursing home. I told her that we “rent” this place we’re in now and the rent is paid up through the end of March, so we don’t even have to think about it at the moment.
The other night while she and I were sitting in the living room together, she asked me what the name of this club was. She’s asked me this before and depending on my level of tiredness, the answers I give are either creative or lame. Either way, she always accepts my response. This particular night, I was having trouble thinking up something, and as luck would have it, Brian was walking by. I asked him what the name of this club was, while discretely pointing at my mother. He stumbled a little trying to answer, but finally came up with something. I thought I’d share the burden of answering these questions with him, and to see how creative he could be. He came up with something that worked perfectly.
I have a beautiful photograph of Mom when she was about 20 years old in my living room. She sees it every night while sitting with me after dinner. Last week, she told me that Diane (she doesn’t realize it’s me, Diane, who she’s talking to) takes her to many different houses (I don’t) and in every house, there’s the same photograph of her. I told her that people must think she’s a popular movie star, and asked her if anyone ever asks for her autograph. She laughed. I changed the subject.
The other night when I was putting her to bed, she saw her shoes next to the night stand. She was surprised to see them and wondered how they got here since she “doesn’t” live here. By the time I’m helping her to bed, I’m usually extremely tired. I took a deep breath, and said “Gosh, you ask too many questions sometimes.” She laughed and went to bed.
A few weeks ago when we got home from grocery shopping, I brought her and her groceries over to her little apartment so she could put them away like we’ve done a thousand times. I went back to the house (the house and apartment are connected from inside) and put my own groceries away. When I finished, I went back to her apartment to give her medication and she was gone. I began to panic, running around looking for her. The phone was ringing and I wasn’t going to answer it because I needed to stay focused on finding her. I finally answered it because the person hung up and called again. I was so glad I answered because it was a neighbor from down the road who said my mother was there with a bag of bananas and cat food. My immediate sense of relief was mixed with a little fear wondering if leaving the house was going to begin the next phase of dementia. She was looking for her home and was unable to be consoled for the rest of the day. She cried that evening, feeling like she didn’t know where she belonged. Nothing I could do or say made her feel better that night.
She’s become less and less active. Her mobility is fading probably due to Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia, and her diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. She’s also having trouble reading the newspaper, something she’s done her entire life. I find that the more she sits around and does nothing, the more she sits around and does nothing. So I thought that she and I could do artwork together this morning to keep her active and maybe distracted from her confusion as to where she lives. She’s never shown an interest in any kind of art, but I was hoping she would get lost in coloring some simple pictures. I cut out a drawing from a coloring book and gave her some markers. She reluctantly agreed to color while I painted. I watched her closely during our art hour, and she seemed to be heavily concentrating on her masterpiece.
We both got tired and gave up for a while. We’ll finish our show pieces later this week.
As I’m sitting here writing this, she’s mentioning to me that she has to do something about finding a place to live. I asked her (again) if she would just stay with me. She said she’ll think about it, but doesn’t want to tie me down or interrupt my life.
Next week will be four years since we moved in with her. She would sound so logical if this was another place and time.
But we all know that her mission for finding her own place to live is not going to happen. And that’s that.
I just have to keep trying to convince her.