Herein lies the tale of the wacky, surreal, ever changing, ever demanding, frustrating, semi-evolving, three steps back/one step forward reality of one family’s journey through our matriarch’s – my mother’s – battle with dementia.
Soap opera? Ha! They’re only a half hour and you get back to your own life afterward. This is full on 24/7 deal with it and it ain’t for sissies – or disgruntled, in-your-face family members who can point fingers but can’t do much else.
Well, for those of you walking this same walk, you know of what I speak. Who knew? Dementia doesn’t just affect the brain of the afflicted. It alters the mindset of all who must deal with it – and live with it. Keep your chess game, your spy vs. spy, your vicarious “Survivor” thrills and stand back.
You are about to enter the land where ‘family’ becomes not a choice or random equation but a mission. Where you must ante up everything you are and have ‘cuz this is about holding on to and providing support for the one who is leaving the family circle. Not gracefully or poetically or submissively but hopefully with at least some dignity and caring from those who are all in – for however long the dying cycle takes – through all the “box of chocolates” moments as they occur, one day at a time.
Ready or not, read on.
February 16, 2015
It was just another “Nancy Grace” kind of afternoon. Mother had the show cranked up to the usual mind-numbing decibel. I did my best to tune it out of my consciousness (as if!) while gathering together my writing materials for a quick getaway.
As I checked my Smartphone’s various email queues, I noticed my sister had messaged me. Cordial?! That was encouraging. Should I answer her back? Things could change so quickly with her. Even ‘how are you doing?’ could, with a misfire in her brain, turn into World War III. I took a chance and responded.
Sigh. I’d like to believe it actually matters what ‘tone’ I use, but really my sister just looks for ways to take me wrong. That she continues to try after all these decades is annoying, exhausting, and pointless.
She’s up against the big “C”. Lung cancer. We’ve tried to be supportive and helpful but she refuses our offers. Her husband passed away from lung cancer last summer. Well, actually he passed away from the chemo he’d taken and could no longer tolerate. The cancer took over his weakened body and lungs. As I’m writing this, I’m hearing my sister’s criticism and attempted tweaks of what I’ve just written.
As things stand now, my sister will call our mother while I’m away at the library. Big surprise and relief that it’s open on President’s Day! So, whew!
I’ve gotten some of my work finished and will go home now and watch Stevie Wonder’s special. Looking forward to some joy to brighten up the earlier moments of the day..
Hoping Nancy’s show is over. Even if it isn’t, most likely I’ll be listening to another explicit episode of “Forensic Files” playing under the soulful, happy music of Stevie. Did I mention Mother has a brand new hearing aid? Haven’t seen it in quite a while. She still doesn’t think she needs to wear it.