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.

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