My Mother's broke and I can't fix it.
All the things we do to help our elders to live independently in their own home; it's all just a big bandage.
Mom called my cell phone Sunday afternoon, that was a surprise, she hardly ever calls me, and never to my cell. "When is someone going to pick me up?" she yells into the phone. (No Hi, no Hello, no greeting.)
Oh %#+!! I'm thinking. I know exactly what's going on. She has been sitting by the back door, all day, with her suitcase packed. She has been waiting for me to pick her up and drive her to meet up with teacher friends for their two day vacation. Mom has been looking forward to this mini-vacation since May. These women taught with Mom for many years, they truly are a team, a gang, a bunch of great women who loved teaching elementary school together. They are going to Maine to meet up with M__, the first of them to retire.
If I can trust anyone to take care of Mom, it's this bunch of elementary school teachers. If they can handle 7 year old kids every day for 30 years, they can handle Mom. Well, I hope she doesn't loose a front tooth or skin her knees, but she may wet her pants.
I try to explain to Mom that today is Sunday, and I will pick her up at breakfast time on Monday. Yesterday was Saturday, you went out to breakfast with L__, right? Today is Sunday. We're meeting G_ and M_ and J_ on Monday, I will pick you up at breakfast time, and I'll drive you to meet them, tomorrow. The conversation goes round and round. I know she is confused. She is angry with me because she's been waiting for me all day. She is broken and I can't fix it.
Last Thursday she and I wrote up a large paper with "the plan" for this two day vacation. The paper is still on her kitchen table. I had written on her calendar (a huge 24" x 12" grid that permanently resides at the head of the kitchen table) that I would be there at 8 am, in the Monday square. Mom wrote MAINE, with smiley faces, in the Monday and Tuesday squares. In the center of her kitchen table is a digital clock with the time, day, and date. But, but, but all this wasn't enough. All her anxiety about the trip overwhelmed her. She is lost with respect to days and dates. She is lost as to the time of day.
Again I repeat, "Mom, I will be there tomorrow morning to pick you up, I will take you to meet up with the teachers, I will be there at breakfast time, we'll have breakfast together."
"Oh." click - she hung up on me. (No "good bye", no "ok", no "see you tomorrow".)
I look at my husband and start to cry.
"When we get home there are going to be 100 calls on our answering machine" I say. If she actually called my cell, she gave up on our house phone.
"No, just 50 missed calls, she never leaves a message."
She did indeed leave a few messages on the house answering machine, that Sunday afternoon.
"This is your Mother! Where are you?! This is Tuesday! I'm waiting for you to come so we can go... (big pause) to our trip!"
"This is your Mother!!! I'm leaving a message!!! Where are you?!"
I hope the teachers don't leave her at the rest area on the Maine turnpike after hearing the same story over and over and over for 600 miles .