The almond jar reappears

I made a quick stop at Mom’s on Friday because she called at about 4 p.m. to report the cat had escaped. She didn’t seem agitated and she didn’t make much sense, but I told her I’d come by just to see if everything was OK. The cat was in his usual spot by the window. Mom was already at dinner by the time I arrived. I assessed the ant situation and tried something new – I moved the cat food bowls and water to a little corner by Mom’s kitchen area, thinking it might be far enough from the wall in her bedroom, the apparent source of the ants, to cause them to lose the food trail and try something different. I considered taking the weekend off from Mom, and now I wish I had.

I took Saturday off, but it’s hard for me to take a weekend off from Mom because I think about her anyway and I have more time so I figure I ought to see what’s going on with her. I got a late start today and arrived just before lunch. She was already in the dining room when I got there, so I just went straight to her apartment to check on things. I had bought some ant traps at the grocery on the way. I discovered my strategy of moving the cat food had completely backfired. There is an apparent source of ants in the wall right beside the corner in which I put the food, so both food bowls had ants in them, and there was a stready stream of ants between the bowl and the wall. It was as if they were having a party. I dumped the food, washed the bowls and moved everything back to Mom’s bedroom, but just a little farther from the ant wall. I put four traps along the ant wall and now I hope for the best. I vacuumed up all the ants in the little kitchen area, and all the stray food they and the cat had scattered on the floor. I scooped some litter and sealed the ant-covered food and litter together in a bag and started a new trash bag.

I decided that with Mom out of the way, I could look around for her driver’s license. It has been missing from her purse for a number of weeks/months, and I’m afraid I will need it for the application to Medicaid. I do have Mom’s birth certificate – I ordered it online one day and it arrived the next. I was stunned by the speed of that service. So I started with a tray and jewelry box on her dresser, and as I scanned the contents, I noticed the almond jar. Sitting on the dresser. Full of old, stale almonds and little bits of cat food. And the stink and dust, I’m sure, of two rounds of being thrown away with cat poop and dead ants. I was horrified. This clearly means Mom rifles through her trash, at least for certain items. This time, I emptied the almonds and food bits into the sealed trash bag of litter and dead ants, placed the empty jar in a bag and threw that bag away in the facility’s guest bathroom. That ought to end the almond jar saga for good. But as I made that discovery, I had a brief emotion resembling something like, “I can’t take this anymore.” Of course, that thinking does me no good, as I have no choice at all in the matter. I have to keep taking it, for an indefinite period of time.

I continued looking, after a thorough wash of my hands, for the driver’s license. I looked through two little chests of drawers on either side of Mom’s bed. There are pictures everywhere, and I kind of assume the driver’s license is tucked in among a stack of photos, for some reason. But I was feeling rushed, grossed out, uncomfortable, and I had a headache, so I didn’t take time to go through the pictures. So I never did find the license. But I did find dirty socks, a pair of disposable underwear behind Mom’s pillows, and a delicate ruby ring that I didn’t know Mom had ever owned. Mom’s bed was a little malodorous, and I figured it was pee. The fitted sheet wasn’t wet or stained, though. Mom had hung her top sheet over the shower curtain rod in her bathroom, and I decided that if she had indeed peed, the housekeeper will take care of that tomorrow. Monday is the day Mom’s apartment is cleaned. I was becoming sweaty, as Mom keeps her heat on pretty high all the time, and I decided to give up for the time being.

I stopped in the dining room to say hello and goodbye to Mom. I could have skipped this step, but I thought that since I had moved the cat food in her apartment, I ought to let her know I was there. Not that she’ll necessarily remember. I asked how she was, and she said fine. She said she had had something to tell me. “She puked,” she said. I asked: the cat? Mom? She said no to both, but she didn’t know who she was talking about. Two seats down at her table, one of the residents had a huge wet stain on the tablecloth in front of her, and I thought it could have been her, and just now. But there was no effort to be cleaning up, and I figured she had just had a spill, which is not uncommon because she seems to have a movement disorder resembling Parkinson’s disease. I worried that Mom might have an intestinal virus, and began inching backward away from her a little bit. And I wondered if her bed stinks and her sheet is hanging in the bathroom because of puke – though I feel doubtful about it, because that’s a smell I think I would have recognized. I told Mom to go ahead and eat, that I would see her soon. In the car, I applied antibacterial gel twice.

And in the car, I thought I would like to cry. I felt a need to do some crying. But I couldn’t. I was on my way to buy the week’s groceries, so it’s just as well. I did the shopping and returned to my car in light rain and a lot of wind. While I was putting the groceries in the back of my car, the wind blew the hatch door and it hit me in the head. That sting provided just what I needed. On the drive home, I thought, I think I can cry now. And I did.

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3 comments so far

  1. sherri on

    Oh Emily – I really admire how you care for your mom. I mean, you investigate what’s bothering her, deduce from very small clues what is really going on sometimes, make her world – not just a little bit – but so much more comfortable or safe for her – and all without knowing how it will all help, what more you should do / can do – whatever. You deserved your cry (sometimes that whack on the head is just enough to push you over, isn’t it?). I hope you went home and dug something comfort-foody and yummy out of your groceries – got out of the nasty, misty rain, and… took care of yourself a bit (though I know your loyal hubby is always there for you).

  2. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Sherri. I did try to just take it easy the rest of the day, even napped a little. I just do what I can and hope it’s enough because, well, it has to be, you know? Thanks for the words of support.

  3. albamaria30 on

    Reading your blog is like having conversations with my mom, who visits my grandmother. My grandma used to have her own apartment, but is now in a nursing home due to dementia issues. Just like I didn’t know how she did it, I don’t know how you do it. It’s just heartbreaking, isn’t it?

    I think you are very strong, just like I think my mom is very strong. I don’t know if that helps. But I hope so.

    ciao,
    rpm


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