I have tried to keep this blog focused on my mother, but this time I want to write a little about myself. Bear with me. It will be brief, and, I think, positive.
Like many caregivers, I am in the midst of a long goodbye to this woman I love. Her dementia progresses, but she still knows me, still enjoys being with me where ever I happen to take her, and dearly loves the attention William gleefully gives her.
She hasn’t been able to be a companion in any sense of the word since early 2008. There was a brief time the last few months of her Hospice care and into the first months of her living in a personal care home when she could converse and interact relatively normally. But she had no memory of when she was very ill and almost died. and that’s a good thing.
Now, at the end of her second year at Whispering Pines, I am watching her slip away. The acceleration increased last spring. Neither her mind nor her body are under her control. I have learned to just go-with-the-flow. It’s not that “the lights are on but nobody’s home,” more that “the lights are on but I don’t know where she is in the house.”
Yesterday was a good day for her. I picked her up to bring her home for supper. William, who is only allowed in the front seat when she is there, worked his magic on the way and we talked about how much she has always liked dogs.
Got home, and found the fifth winter coat I have ordered for her had just arrived. Wonder of wonders, it fits! And , I must say, it is a gorgeous faux fur that looks and feels like mink. She loves the feel of it, the fur-lined hood. Tactile heaven!
I started talking about Christmas, about the concert I’m going to take her to on Sunday, and what she remembers about Christmases in the past. For her, the “past” is her childhood, nothing since.
Did she remember how her mother always used to play Christmas carols in the parlor? “Yes,” she said, “but Mom is gone.”
That was the first time in months she seemed to know that her mother and grandfather are no longer living
I asked her if there was anything she wanted. She demurred, but I pressed her. Old fashioned candies, a taste from the past? Other suggestions? She couldn’t think of anything, but wanted to know what she could get for me.
I told her I had just ordered a set of “frivolous” DVD’s that she could wrap up for me Christmas Eve and I would unwrap in the morning. She giggled. It is a pretty silly idea.
I told her I am hemming up some nice slacks I got for her, which can be part of her present. She looked right at me and thanked me “for all you do.” I said I do what I do because I love her.
Tears welled up in her eyes, but she didn’t cry, just continued to look at me. At that moment I knew she was truly present, really there, and the connection between us was electric.
It was a moment I will never forget, all the thanks I will ever need.
She loves me, too.