Sunday, October 31, 2010


I am not ready to write about what is going on... life is truly horrible with my Mom.

During the long nights when I cannot sleep - I have been quilting. I made a baby quilt for my friends' first grandchild. Babies bring us such hope and joy.

The other quilt is small, it is a quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

This group was responsible for the touring quilt exhibit "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece".

The quilts that are donated are auctioned off to raise money, which is distributed as grants to many different Alzheimer's groups.

If you are in the Houston area this first week of November, there will be an exhibit/sale of 1000 of these AAQI art quilts at the International Quilt Festival, Exhibit Hall, Row S.

Monday, October 25, 2010

sick and tired

My heart is so heavy. My spirit is so sad.

Mom and I went for lunch at the assisted living residence where I hope she will be moving.
She clammed up, would hardly talk to anyone, and had nothing nice to say about anything. I could tell by the smoke coming from her ears that she was very angry at me for bringing her there.

Tonight, I heard from one of her friends that Mom does not want to go live with "those drooly people." Her friend gave her a reprimand, to be more compassionate. I was surprised at Mom's observation, as I saw no "drooly people", just a bunch of ladies having lunch with their friends and family.

What awaits me when I go see Mom tomorrow?
Will she yell at me or will she stay in stony silence?

I am so tired.

Monday, October 18, 2010

what others say...

"Do you know what your Mother said to me?"

... that she was sad that she didn't have any grandchildren. (She has four.)

... that she doesn't know why she doesn't have a husband. ME_ and B_ have husbands, where is her's.

Mr G

Today, I am going to a funeral. Mr G died, from Alzheimer's disease.

He was a kind and loving soul. People talk about "it takes a village". He was an important part of my village when I was growing up. I'm sure my adolescence was a much better place because he and his wife were a part of it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the birthday card (part 2)

Last month, I wrote about how difficult is was for Mom to write out a birthday card for her granddaughter. The other day I saw the second card, the card she hid, inside was written "Love, Aunt G__".

These relationship connections are difficult for her. She may remember someone but not understand how people are related. "These are my relatives, not yours." she says to me.
Yesterday she was showing me photos in her college yearbook. She folded back the page and pointed to a man's picture, and in all seriousness she said "This man was your father."
Yes Mom. That's him. (Thank goodness we agree on that!) Yes, this 22 year old man was my Dad. However I think if she showed me a photo of Dad at 55 years old, I don't think she could make the connection from him to me.

Last week Mom had her monthly birthday luncheon. For the past 11 years, a bunch of her girl friends get together once a month to celebrate, socialize, get out without the husbands, and just be friends. It use to be a potluck lunch, rotating among all the homes. In the past few years, as some ladies have moved to warmer climates or passed on; the group has gotten much smaller. Most of the husbands have passed on too. Now that some are unable to cook, they've taken the birthday lunch to local restaurant. Gifts are never swapped, just silly birthday cards, the more silly the better.

These were the first people that Mom told of her diagnosis of dementia. Those who she trusted to tell. Of course they already knew, they knew that she was not the sharp, outgoing, and energetic person she had once been. They embraced her physically and emotionally. These are the ladies who call me, after Mom calls them, yelling about what a horrible daughter I am because I'm going to "put her in jail."

Last week was the October birthday luncheon. I made sure it was on her calendar. I made sure the aide knew that she was going out for lunch and a bathing reminder was needed. We even picked up another birthday card for BA , BA is the only one with an October birthday.

That morning Mom proceeded to write out twelve birthday cards. She needed to give one to everyone who would be there. The aide couldn't convince her otherwise. Mom got snippy with her and told her to "mind her own business" and "what did she know, this was her birthday group." I heard from two of the ladies that they all got a card, and some got two! I don't know if Mom signed them, I can't imagine that she put names on the envelopes.

Did you have a good time yesterday at the birthday luncheon? I ask.
"Ok." she says flatly. "They don't give you very much food, it was like crap. It was so noisy. We had to go all the way to (city). I don't know why. We never had to go there before. The food was weird. It was such a long ride. We didn't get home until late. It took all day. I had to sit in the back seat. I didn't eat the appetizers, they did. They didn't have lemonade. I didn't want dessert, but the girls did, so I had to stay."

I heard from one of the ladies that Mom almost threw a two-year old temper tantrum at the restaurant. She described it as pouty, teary, pre-temper tantrum. They're seeing this behavior too. Apparently Mom didn't like the look of her sandwich, it was an artisanal open-face sandwich. Somehow they convinced her it was made of what she liked and she ate it all.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

the two year old

This week it was as if my mother was the two year old.

On Thursday is was raining hard, a rain coat and umbrella day. Mom and I scoot slowly to and from the car, trying to avoid puddles. Mom complains that she is soaked through.
Mom, is that jacket a rain coat?
"No, but it could be if I wanted it to be."

We stop into our favorite bakery for lunch. She orders the grilled kielbasa with horseraddish dressing. It's then I notice she has put her top on backwards.
The sandwiches come and she is surprised by her order. She gets up and goes back to read the menu board, to double check what was written there. She looks at her sandwich, like the kid who has "again" been packed the lunchbox they don't like. She is getting teary.
Mom, what if we share? I'll swap half my sandwich for half of yours.
This seems to make her happy and she eats all her lunch. The kielbasas was surprisingly tasty.

It's still raining heavily, but the leaves are turning color, and I feel like a "drive".
Mom says that there is a nice antique shop down that way, so off we go.

Hunting and shopping for antiques has been something we've been doing my whole life. Mom has collections upon collections. Her house is like a museum of Americana, she loves to explain her collections to anyone who'll listen (I'm sure her aides get the tour, every day, twice a day!)

Mom still tells the story about the antique cradle that she and Dad bought at auction for me, their first child. The cradle held my brother, my dolls, and then my children. It's now back at Mom's house.

Dripping wet, we enter the antique shop. It's an old building and the floor is sloping and irregular. She is tottering and weaving and anxious to show me things, things that she owns. This is her kind of antique shop! She starts tapping her nails on a cast iron donut kettle. "I have one of these." tic tic tic tic The tapping is to make sure I see what she sees. She zooms and staggers over to another piece, tic, tic, tic, tic, look, look, look! I see the two year old again, not the two year old who says "I want, I want, I want" at the toy store, but it's the same excitement as she says "I have one of these, I had one of those." Look, look, look.

She starts tapping on a 150 year old hand-blown glass Easter egg.
"I have one of these" tic, tic, tic, tic. I grab her hand.
Yes, I know, isn't it beautiful, let's not touch. Oh my gosh, I'm telling my Mother not to touch things in an antique shop. I've known you don't touch stuff since I was... Here we are, I'm parenting my Mother.

We stagger out of this shop, wade through puddles and get back into the car. Mom says there is another antique shop in this town, it's in a barn, just down that road. We drive down that road, and then down this one, and then try that road, but we don't find another shop. It is a lovely ride, the leaves are turning colors, the houses are charming, it's picturesque New England in the Fall.

We finish our outing at the grocery store.

Mom sneaks down the candy aisle, I know she thinks she's sneaking, because of way she looks over her shoulder to see if I see her. She knows where the boxes of licorice are (can't find the milk, but remember the licorice.) She puts two boxes into the carriage. She struts back down the aisle to me.
"This is my candy." she states, proud and defiant.
Yes it is
. (Please don't eat it all in one sitting, I pray.)

The last item on our list is oatmeal raisin cookies. They are baked at the store and sold in clear plastic tubs. There are no oatmeal raisin cookies today. She pickup and turn over practically every tub to read the label on the bottom. Six other varieties, but none that she wants. Mom puts on a big sad face, a very disappointed face, I think she's going to cry, I see the temper tantrum begin to erupt. The two year old is back. How do you deal with an oatmeal raisin cookie crisis? You can't grab a tantrum-throwing-seventy-something-year-old-woman by the middle and carry her out of the store.
Mom, how about raisin hermits?
"No, no, no, no!" she says.
"No, no, no, no!"
I am so not ready for this behavior.