alztheimers, dementia...they are horrid diseases. [the good side is, i can tell my mom the same news over and over and she doesnt notice. the bad side is, i get to hear 'you're putting on a bit of weight, aren't you?' over and over as well.]
my dad and i are here to try to keep my mother as mentally comfortable as possible during this time but sometimes, when her mind slips more than not, it gets hard. she just can't understand why he will not sleep with her anymore, why he leaves her there at night and goes 'home' and when that happens, she just goes off on him relentlessly. she can be pretty rough: why wont he stay with her; why does he treat her this way, what kind of husband is he...how about, the kind that walks over to spend 12 hours a day with her every day, rain, shine, snow, or ice--without fail. the kind that would love to go someplace else but won't because he doesnt want to leave her alone.
when that happens, i try to distract her by getting out the cards. we play 500 rummy. it gives her something to concentrate on and i think it helps her mind to figure out '3-of-a-kind' or '3-in-a-row'; what to keep, what to discard. sometimes we play for 3-4 hours, other times just a few games. the goal is to get her ready to sleep comfortably.
sometimes when i walk back from the nursing home, i look at the sky almost with surprise that the sun still rises and sets, the moon and stars still come out at night. it's hard to remember, is there really a world out there, beyond this nursing home facility, beyond this apartment? do people still go shopping, go to movies, to parties; meet with friends, have friends??
i wonder if it helps or hurts that i'm not working outside of the home right now, but am trying to make a go of it by working on jewelry and fabric...my etsy shops, my galleries. i sometimes talk to people on the phone, people with actual voices, not just online, and i enjoy hearing them talk but dont know what to say back. its like my world has shrunk smaller and tighter with each day until i exist just within these apartment rooms...until i am reluctant to even leave them.
yet, i dream of leaving, of going far away where the weather is nice and i can feel the warmth of the sun on my face. there are lots of people and i can walk the beach and hear the rhythmic waves on the shore and the birds crying, looking for food. i dream of selling my jewelry and artwork to people like these, people who see my work and like it and want to own it.
Every morning and evening during the week i can hear the planes at the airport with their jet engines roaring, getting ready for take off and i think about how it would feel to be on them. i think it would be a good feeling, except that i dont think i would want to come back for a long time. sometimes i go to the airlines' websites and punch in imaginary destinations and departure dates but i never choose round trip--its always one way.
i know this will pass, but i dont know what will happen then...what will my father do, where will he go, will he want to stay with me, or will he prefer to go by one of his sons? where will i go? back to my house? after all this time, i dont know if i want to. sometimes i want to be completely alone, other times i dont want to be alone at all.
whatever happens, it will be different. whatever happens, at least i have had this time, i did what i could for my parents, i did what i needed to do. whatever happens.