Sunday, December 11

"I'm not a kid"

This is what Mom said to me ten minutes ago or so. I was uploading photos to my computer in the kitchen, keeping an eye on Mom with the monitor as she changed into pajamas at bedtime. She almost always forgets to take off her underwear before putting on the pajama bottoms, so if I see she is forgetting, I dash to her bedroom and gently remind her (with just a few words and some motions-it is sometimes hard for her to understand words) to take off the underwear. Those were her words in response. It was very hard to receive those words and I immediately told her I didn't mean to treat her like a kid, that she just forgot things sometimes and I was reminding her. Then she told me, falteringly, that she thought I was telling her she couldn't put on the pajamas. So we got clear on that, she continued with her dressing and undressing and I went quickly back to the kitchen, fighting back tears. 

This is so hard.

Mom needs so much help these days, tho' I am still allowing/encouraging/facilitating her doing as much of it as possible for herself. Without my cuing and showing, she does nothing and sits or wanders in a confused fog. So I must do it, but I know that it must grate on her sometimes, even tho' it is probably below her awareness most of the time. Helping her more means she might forget how to do things even sooner, and I look for anything she can do to use her muscles and exert herself, even in the pulling of  shirt over her head...she wants to move so little most days. And then I think, to do more for her is treating her even more like a child...but that is being logical, and there is nothing logical about this.

In the kitchen again, I am looking at the photos I've taken today...beautiful light through the pinecone wreath on the front door, the first really frosty morning, clove-studded clementines. I glance at the monitor again and see that Mom is in the bathroom looking in the cupboard for something, then I see that she is reaching for the toothpaste tube (tho' she brushed her teeth just a short while ago). I dash back to her room and find her with toothpaste on her mouth like white lipstick. I quickly wipe it off with a wet washcloth and look for her lipstick in its usual place....not there. I begin to look for it and encourage her to take off her shirt and get in her pajama top, which she does without comment. I look in the usual hiding places but don't find I put away the clothes she has taken off (in the hopes that keeping her room tidy will make her less likely to putter around it in the night) and the lipstick drops out of the pocket of her sweater. By this time, Mom is in her pjs and I happily show her the lipstick and she goes back into the bathroom and puts some on. Then she almost runs to bed (unusual) and I tuck her in...she asks me a question I can't understand, but I answer in a vague fashion that seems to suffice. She asks if I will come and sleep with her and I jokingly tell her that Doug would miss me and offer her little yarn cat, which surprises and pleases her. 

As I type this, I see in the dim monitor that her light is out she is fast asleep...for now. She won't remember tonight, and I have to figure out how to remember it and meet it again...and again..and again in the days and years to come. For now, I will breathe deeply, go back to looking at today's photos, turn up my music *loud* and keep seeking beauty and happiness in the little moments. I'm sure they will outweigh these others if I work hard at at.

Friday, December 9

checking in...

Such a long time since I last wrote...but all has been pretty calm and steady. Not to say that things are easy, as Mom is obviously more confused these days...not recognizing everyday objects for what they are, needing much more cuing and help with little things...nothing that would be considered abnormal for her condition...but sad and-somehow-always surprising.

 Lots of small adjustments are needed in so many ways...our routines, the arrangement of things, and especially the adjusting of my perspectives and attitudes. Just tonight, as I was tucking Mom in bed (I don't always, but tonight she seemed to need the cherishing), she asked about "those people". "What people do you mean," I asked. "The people who live here," she responded. A tiny arrow to my heart...for she hasn't used the terms "them" and "they" for her beloved family in a long time. When that happens, it always immediately shifts the scene, from one where I imagine her knowing her daughter is tucking her in to bed, and fixing her a tasty supper and finding an old movie she would like to see....but seems something different to Mom sometimes.

But atleast I can handle all of this better this year than the year before...hopefully not by bearing and burying the feelings that come up, but by quickly recognizing and accepting them, doing what I can to help Mom when there is something to help and then turning my focus back to all my pursuits (beyond caring for Mom). These have kept me busy and writing elsewhere and probably will continue to do so for awhile...but I will always come back here when I need to.

And even if I am not writing here, I am still thinking of those who read here and who are caring for their dear ones, whatever the circumstances...and sending love and strength.