People need to be honoured, people need to be written about.
In 2017, I wrote about my dad as he lay in a coma. It got lots of attention. He fell and lingered for weeks before he died. This post I honour my mother, but I doubt it will get as much recognition.
My mom is alive, but the wonderful character, the beautiful person who she was is almost dead.
My mom has advanced dementia. Her last real grasp of reality died with my father, but she lingers.
We moved her to Ottawa after my dad died, and when Covid allows, we visit her. She has endured months in the hospital after a broken hip, but she rallied and survives.
Today I had a visit and she railed at me, she screamed when we tried to give her medication.. She shouted at me when I wouldn’t bring her home -what is home??
She clawed at my visor and spit at me. I tried to distract with an old movie, she was a lover of old movies. Today it didn’t work.
I took her outside, I toured her around the residence. She complained – really loudly, that this was not her home.
For one moment, I think more of myself. I have no family to help with this. There is a brother, but he is in so much psychic pain he is not able to help.
I witness this and I have to remember. My mom was a good mom. My mom loved us and made our home the hub that all my friends felt comfortable coming to. Our place was always so much fun, she welcomed everyone to our place. we all grew up with her.
My mom was crazy, she would dance right into the super 8 film my dad was trying to take of beautiful cliffs in New Brunswick. My mom is who I talked to when I came home after too many beers who listened patiently when I blathered on about nothing. My mom let us use her wedding dress for a movie we were making. Who dived into the pool in that dress??
My mom was always there for us. My mom listened.
Now who is my mom? What does she think, what does she feel?
I am not sure she feels the absence of her wonderful partner. She talks about ‘Frank’ but I don’t know if she realizes he is no longer there.
Soon after my dad died, she told me a story. She was asleep in a different section of the room on the night he died. She talked about how he came to her that night and talked to her. I can’t remember what she said about that encounter, but it was a vision of comfort and love.
Now there are photos of the two of them together throughout the room, but I don’t think she recognizes them. Some times, I am Frank or her brother Paul also long gone. Sometimes I am Paul, but I am a bit surprised when she recognizes me.
Today her plea was to take her home. I told her that she was home, but really, that made no sense to her.
This is living with dementia. It is too easy to be angry with her because she is no longer the mom I knew. I write this to help me to remember to respect who she was even though she is still here. She is not who she was.
This is part of life, seeing your loving parent descend into something that resembles madness. There is no solace in this. There is no comfort, there are memories, but they are faded right now.
I write this out of great respect for my mom. I write this to remember. I write this to help me to me a loving son on the next visit when who knows what will happen.
Is it possible to mourn the living? I don’t know. I respect and love who she was. This is life, this is dementia.