Wednesday, July 31, 2013

you can call me Mariarose

What a difference from last week.
Last week Mom spewed "Hate you!! Go to hell!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!!" for hours.
Yesterday was so different.

When I got to Mom's place yesterday, she was resting on her bed, as she usually does after lunch. Her bed is her safe place. I got her up and we walked out to the common room. I couldn't get her to go outside, through the French doors, she was too scared. "No! No! No!"  I sat her down at a table, facing away from the doors and away from the "old people" sitting in the courtyard.

We were looking at travel books of places she had visited in Europe. As I've heard all her stories before, and with the help of captions, I talk about all the places she had seen. "Oh, yes. Yes. Yes of course." she would agree. But she asks me over and over "You too? Did you come? Were you there?"  And over and over I tell her that she traveled with Dad or her cousin while I was home with my babies.

We look again at the book "Baby Love." Mom starts to cry. "I want some babies."
"You had some babies, you had two babies, they are all grown up now." She stares at me with confusion on her face.
"Don't lie to me."
 I show her a picture of my brother from his last visit. "This is your baby, EJ. This is your son EJ.  He's all grown-up now. Look at his big fuzzy mustache. Look he's hugging you, he loves you. You're the mommy and he's your son."  There was no recognition. "You lie to me." She is not buying my story.
We continue to look at the beautiful babies in the book. "I want some babies. You have babies?"
"Yes, I had two babies, SJ and DB, two boys, your grandsons, SJ and DB. They are all grown up now.  You had two babies and I had two babies."
"Are you my sister? We're sisters?" she asks again and again.
"You're my mommy and I'm your daughter."  Her face is screwed up in concentration and disbelief.
"We're sisters? Don't lie to me." over and over.
"I'm your daughter and you're my mommy."  I'm ready to burst into tears, she is so lost. 
"You can call me Mariarose."
Her face gets all soft, her eyes light up. There is an expression on her face I remember from long ago. She puckers her lips and reaches out her arms.  I go to hug her, she rests her head on my shoulder, she is peppering my shoulder with kisses and words "love you, love you, love you, love you..." she is crying.

These words, words that I have not heard from my Mother since the time "before". This was a gift from God.

"It's ok Mommy, you don't have to cry, It's ok Mommy, I love you too." I rock her in my arms and let her cry.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Dammmmdementia I hate you.

Today was Mom's annual wellness checkup. I arrived early so that I could ride over to the office, with Mom, in the wheelchair van.  All that walking would just be too much for her.

When I got to her room, I could hear her yelling and swearing from the shower. Two aides were doing their best to get her ready.

"Look who's here to see you." one aide says as she leads Mom out to me.
"Good morning Mom, it's so good to see you." I give her a squeeze.
"What? No! Stop smiling!! Look look, I'm. Stop it. No, go away." her nasty words are now aimed at me and not her aides. Her barrage of swears and grunts come pouring out.
"Go to hell! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!! Shit!!"
I start to laugh, this is NOT how MY Mother ever talked.
"Stop smiling!!" she screams.  Yes, it would be very funny except this is all coming out of her mouth at 90 decibels. The aides try to divert her with juice and calm words.
She is calling me "Mommy", she is calling me by my name, she is yelling and swearing. "Hate you, hate you."  I can't divert her with a smile and calm words, I can't divert her anger.  But I can push her in the wheel chair, out of the building, to the van. She doesn't ask where we're going, she doesn't ask why we're going.

The rain has let up, we get into the office without getting wet.  Yesterday it was 90' hot and humid, tonight it is 88' and muggy, but this morning it was 63' raw and damp.
"Cold, cold!! Coooold, cooooold!!" Mom is shaking in the van, we had to turn on the heat.

She sees the hospital campus and starts yelling "Nooooo no no no!!"

Two nurses try to get Mom to step up onto the scale. She could not get her body to go one step up, what they were asking was just too confusing. One nurse had her arm under Mom's armpit for stability. All of a sudden she spins away. "She almost bit me." the nurse is flustered. I'm mortified. "Has she done this before?" they ask, I close my eyes and nod.

Mom's doctor has always been very good about talking directly to Mom, and has always treated her with respect.  She would peek over to see which way my head was shaking to confirm or deny Mom's answers, while I sit quietly in the corner and take notes.  However at this visit, the doctor and I talk about Mom, as she sits there, as if she's not there. Mom is spouting bad words every so often or zoning out entirely. She could not answer or respond appropriately with the doctor or nurse.

"Can you lift up your arms?" the doctor asks Mom, demonstrating what she wanted. I also lift up my arms. Would Mom get the clues? No. The doctor asks again, gently touching Mom's elbow. Mom can't process what the doctor is asking.

One year since her last wellness exam. One more year of dementia, stealing bits and pieces... stealing chunks and globs... of the woman who is my Mother... leaving this angry person in it's wake.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


What is it about babies, that make us love them so much? What is it about a baby that turn us into mush? They are just so darn cute.

Some of the aides bring their little children to visit with the residents.  Often it is the only time my Mother will smile, when she is holding a baby.

She still knows the difference between a real baby and a doll-baby.  She is resentful if you try to engage her with a doll-baby.

She will not engage or interact with any of the dogs that come to visit her neighborhood, she is frightened and scared by them. Which I think is strange, as she and Dad owned a few dogs throughout the years. Mom's a cat-person for sure.

There was a new book at Mom's place, a huge fat coffee-table book of baby photographs. Lovely, large, adorable pictures of babies.  Mom and I sat, knee to knee, the book resting on my lap so she could see the pictures.  It was way too heavy to rest on her lap!  I turned the pages and we cooed and awed and talked about the babies.  I was really pleased that Mom's one word sentences were spot-on when describing the photos.  I was pleased that she could read the expressions on their little faces.


The book is "Baby Love" by Rachael Hale. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

my super-suit

Have you seen the movie The Incredibles? It's an animated movie about two super heroes who marry and have a family of children who also have super powers. And these parents are just as regular, quirky, and as embarrassing to their kids as any other parents.

"Honey? Where's my super-suit?"

I want Edna "E" Mode to make me a super-suit.  "Simple, elegant, yet BOLD!"

My super-suit will be purple, not only because I look good in purple, but because it is the color of Alzheimer's.  My super-suit will be Teflon coated, so that the dementia-crap my Mother throws my way can slide off. It will shield my heart from the weird and nasty words that fly out of my Mother's mouth.  It will remind me that I have the power and inner strength to cope with this nightmare.

My super-suit will "breathe like Egyptian cotton... and be machine washable", just like the super-suits that Edna made for the Incredibles.

And no cape!