Ambivalence

My husband came along today for my Sunday morning visit with Mom. It was short – about a half hour before her lunch. But I’m glad we got there when we did. She was in bed, just waking up from a nap when we arrived. I told her I was sorry to wake her, and she said, “Oh, it’s quite alright.” That sounded like the old Mom. She’d say something like that with a little bit of fake haughtiness to be funny. I always like it when one of her old phrases slips through like that.

Mom gives new meaning to the concept of ready to wear. When she goes to sleep, she just lies down on her bed, fully clothed, even with shoes on, and with her glasses on. I imagine this as a strategy to avoid losing things, but it’s more likely, I think, that it just doesn’t occur to her to change into pajamas, take off her shoes, set her glasses on the nightstand, things like that. The first night I stayed with her back in December, I tried to take her glasses off, and she struggled against that (she had been sleeping for awhile when I realized she had them on). I certainly didn’t need to win that one and just left them on her. I wonder if it would be frightening for her to wake up and not be able to see and have no idea that she requires glasses – and then not be able to find them. So when she woke up from her nap, she threw back the comforter, got out of bed and was ready to head to the dining room. She had on her Crocs, gray fleece pants and her favorite animal print shirt. And her glasses. I did comb her hair a little bit.

My husband talked briefly with Mom while I scooped the litter box. I noticed they didn’t have much of an exchange. He admired a Valentine’s Day box she had made in her craft class – a small wooden basket covered with pastel hearts. He asked if she had started making crafts for St. Patrick’s Day. Mom didn’t really answer. I’m guessing she doesn’t know what St. Patrick’s Day is. My husband tried to joke with her, but she wasn’t as with it as usual. In fact, he said one funny thing, and she said, “I don’t get it.” She could have been groggy from the nap. She did like the hat he was wearing, a big, furry lumberjack hat with ear flaps. She thought it made him look a little crazy. He liked that idea himself.

We dropped Mom at the dining room and she went into lunch. In the parking lot, I said I thought she seemed ambivalent, and he agreed. It’s as if she doesn’t get any joy out of being visited – at least sometimes. And that is OK, because I want her to be content in that environment. And feel safe, and as “at home” as possible. But it also bums me out that I can’t perk her up with my presence. I don’t need the strokes for my ego. I just want to be able to do things that offer something resembling pleasure in her life, and up until recently a visit seemed to lift her spirits a bit. I am thinking that the more I show up with goodies, like chocolate or nuts, her two favorite snacks, the more receptive she will be to my visits. And maybe as it gets warmer, I can take her out more frequently.

But there is also the chance that her ability to express – or feel – enthusiasm is waning, that something about the disease minimizes shifts in her mood. This is just a guess. Or maybe she’s losing track of who I am and what I’m there to do. I think I will choose to be in denial about that possibility for awhile.

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2 comments so far

  1. g55luckie on

    I agree that your mother probably doesn’t like waking up without her glasses. The room is always much darker without them. I sometimes am surprised to wake up with mine on, crushed between my face and the pillow. My eye doctors are amazed at how battered my glasses are.

  2. momsbrain on

    Yes, I have been known to fall asleep with my glasses on – frequently! I’m glad Mom has figured out a way to wake up without fear or confusion – or at least any more fear and confusion than might already be there…


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