My Mom has dementia.
The first real signs of it were several years ago when I was in the hospital. Dad and I, for the most part, put her behavior and forgetfulness down to the fact that she was very tired and worried about me. And, while being tired and worried certainly didn’t help, it was the first time I saw my sweet Mother confused about what she was confused about. That’s the only way I can describe it.
Over the years, it has steadily gotten worse. Since I lived in Atlanta at the time, I didn’t see her on a regular basis. It wasn’t until I moved home that I saw first hand the steady decline of her memory. It started out with her not being able to remember the word she was trying to say. I can’t remember a time when my Mom didn’t have a crossword puzzle around somewhere, because words had always been fun for her. She still has one around, but, rarely picks it up.
Yesterday when I came home from work, she was busy looking around the house for something. This is common these days. She misplaces things very easily now, and Dad or I have to find them. (Mostly Dad since he’s with her more and knows where her frequent ‘hiding’ places are.) After a while, I asked her what she was looking for, because she kept looking out the door and windows and going outside. She said she was looking for ‘that man’. I told her he was upstairs.
“No, not him. I know he’s there. I’m looking for the other one.”
“Mama, he’s the only one here.”
“I know that.”, she says frustratingly. “The one I’m looking for says his name is David, and that he wants to marry me.”
I smile, knowing, of course, that’s my Daddy. But she’s looking for the ‘young man’ she fell in love with 63+ years ago, not the older man who is upstairs, and loves her even more today than he did back then.
When Daddy comes downstairs for dinner, he tries to explain that he is the one she’s looking for, but she doesn’t quite believe him. She asks him for ‘his’ phone number because he’s got to have it. So, I quickly text my brother and tell him about the situation, just in case she calls him and thinks he’s Daddy from years ago. But, that doesn’t happen, she, at least for the moment, still realizes that my brother is the Jr. of our two Davids, and not the one she’s looking for.
While dementia is a horrible thing for anyone to live with, and those who love them to live through, there are some sweet and funny moments. They’re just so cute when they happen and you can’t help but laugh, which really helps. I’ll give you a couple of examples: When I was in the hospital, they had given me oxycodone pills for the pain. Mom has always been a worrier. I’ve often told her she’s a “Professional Worrier” because when she doesn’t have anything to worry about, she’ll manufacture something! But, that’s my Mom. Anyway, she came to my bed and said, “Do you need one of your oxymorons?” I couldn’t help but laugh. She looked at me strangely and asked me why I was laughing. I told her, “It’s oxycodone, Mom.” To which she replied, “Well, you know what I meant!”, and laughed. Then, just a few weeks ago, I went upstairs where she and Dad were watching tv. I asked them what they were watching. They both answered at the same time, Dad: “American Ninja Warriors”, while Mom came out with “Ninja Turtles”. I couldn’t stop laughing for a while at that one. I don’t even think she knows what a Ninja Turtle is, but she’s heard it somewhere. She’s priceless. Always has been. But, even as difficult as these days have been, and will be, I wouldn’t take anything for the time I get to spend with them both.
Don’t take for granted that someone will always be there, because they won’t. Put down your phone and interact with people, especially your family, and most especially, your parents or grandparents. Unfortunately, they won’t always be there, and believe me, you’re lucky to have them for as long as you will. My brother and I have been extremely blessed to have both of our parents as long as we have. Too many friends lost theirs long ago.
Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be without my Faith, it’s what gets me through. There are things I worry about, I know better, and try not to because He’s there and has it all planned out much better than I could ever even try to plan it – IF I had any control over it. I have to remember to rely on Him, not me or anything or anyone else. It also helps to write about this, which He told me to do. Amazing how that works, isn’t it? He knows what’s best for us, and if we’d just listen, everything would work out like it’s supposed to.
I should have listened to Him a long time ago and been writing all this down. Apparently, writing is my therapy. 🙂 Thanks for listening.