Written 3-19-2018 --
Dementia. Saying it out loud. Writing it on pretty paper, typing it on a keyboard doesn’t make it any easier to deal with – my Mom has it. Her Mother, my Grandmother, showed signs of it before she passed away at 84. My Mom – turning 86 this year – is ‘neck-deep’ in the horrible disease. I’ve known she had it for a couple of years – but convincing anyone in my family was another story. Everyone just called it, ‘old age’. She fell out of the bed, hit her head and it escalated everything.
My dad is still her caregiver – yet in a complete state of denial. He’s of the philosophy if you don’t talk about it – don’t say it out loud it really isn’t so.
I always had compassion and sympathy for people that had parents with this disease – but until you walk the path, until your own loved one has this – you have no idea what it is like.
My Mom’s lifestyle has greatly shifted. It’s at this point – and I’m 55 years old—that I had the revelation that it was my Mom that raised me. Took me to dance classes, took care of me when I was sick. Made sure I had everything I needed on top of her holding down a full time job. My dad ‘brought home the bacon’. And sat in a lazy boy- and watched television. It was my mom that cleaned the house, planned and prepared all meals, laundry, even planned what everyone wore. Now that she is debilitated – you can’t even begin to imagine how things have dwindled.
I tried talking my father into getting help: Housekeeping help a couple of days a week, food service to come in with meals, or even a sitter to give him free time and my mother some company. I was vetoed on all counts. Labelled bossy and controlling after I tried to persuade an alliance with my brother, I threw in the towel and have had to sit back and let things play out.
I used to talk with my Mom daily, now I settle for once a week. I still write letters weekly, trying to put photos in each and write of what my daughter calls ‘anchors’ or memories that we shared to try and jar my mom into some facet of remembering who I am.
My Mom had always been so healthy – she still has her tonsils, for God’s sake.
The hard part is knowing it won’t get any better and there is nothing you can do and time only makes it worse.
Her physician stepped in and mandated home health and housekeeping come in and for that I’m truly thankful. Mom is not happy about it. Dad doesn’t talk about it. But she’s barely getting the care she needs.
I have a plane ticket to go home to see her in a couple of weeks… All I do is remember what it won’t be like when I get there. I recite over and over again – ‘It’s not about you--- it’s not about you--- it’s not about you’…. But I’m going to see someone who doesn’t know me, and a father and brother who don’t want me there…. I kind of feel like it is all about me….