Monday, May 21, 2012

love the one you're with

It was a good visit!

My brother EJ and his daughter LM came from across the country for a visit.  It had been about a year since I saw EJ, when he came to help me move Mom into assisted living.  It had been much longer since I had seen my niece LM.

For weeks before their visit, I had been talking about them with Mom. "LM is coming to see you soon."  I would get all the photos of an older, grown up, LM and show her.  I really wanted Mom to accept this young woman as her granddaughter. I didn't want Mom to get angry or frustrated or argumentative when she didn't meet a 6 year old granddaughter, but an 18 year old.

I guess the dementia-demons took the week off.  Mom was smiling and loving, she was happy to see her son and granddaughter. HURRAY!!!!!

Each day our visits were very simple, going for walks by the river. Slow, slow walks, Mom pushing her walker, LM walking carefully beside her.  We'd take our sandwiches to the picnic shelter by the dam.  We did a lot of sitting, eating, and talking.  Sometimes Mom would be with us in the conversations, many times she zoned-out. Mom never asked questions, she never asked about LM's graduation or going away to college, she never asked about her other granddaughter or her daughter-in-law, but she just listened to our conversations. Isn't it sad, that our expectations of a "great day" are so minimal. 

People often ask, do I have siblings that help me, help me with the horrors of dementia care-giving.  Even though EJ lives thousands of miles away, he IS supportive.  We are on the phone all the time, he is encouraging and resourceful. Yes, I am the one HERE on this side of the country with our Mom, he is the one on the other side of the country with his in-laws.  Unfortunately Alzheimer's disease and dementia have infiltrated the lives of all three of LM grandparents.  My sister-in-law is the sibling in her family that has taken on the responsibility of care-giver for her parents. And I know my brother has been the caring son-in-law, for those parents.

Didn't CSN&Y sing about "love the one you're with". I'm glad my brother is there for his in-laws. I glad he is there to support his wife as she has to make tough decisions for her parents.

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