A cleansing cry

I just watched one of the episodes of HBO’s “The Alzheimer’s Project.” The episode about caregivers. It made me cry. I am still crying a little bit. I think I might be overdue for some weeping, so it is not bothering me. It bothered one of my dogs, who came over to me on the couch and started nudging me when I took the crying up a notch. Funny how dogs do that.

This episode tells the stories of several families, most of them people taking care of their partners. I first felt a little twinge when the young-ish man taking care of his father was featured. He took his dad into his home. Eventually, his girlfriend moved out as a result. So he was punished for this incredibly unselfish thing he did. He seemed to not be regretful. Eventually his dad moved into a group home, where he caused some trouble by wandering around at night, his disposable underwear drooping. And once when he and his son were taking a walk with the dog as part of this documentary, the dad’s pants just plain fell down. And the son just pulled them back up and got him situated. That’s what you do. Pants falling down, droopy adult diapers. It’s just part of the Alzheimer’s patient’s life, eventually. There should be no shame associated with it. And yet this young man was having trouble sustaining friendships because of his caregiving. I am lucky I am not experiencing that. But then, I never took Mom into my home. I was determined not to from the very beginning. For many reasons. And I have decided not to feel guilty about that.

And then a woman whose husband has Alzheimer’s was doing an interview, and the interviewer asked: Do you ever need a shoulder to cry on? And she said yes. And sometimes it’s her own shoulder. Whoosh, the tears started immediately. This woman has children and grandchildren. I have a husband and siblings and friends. Yet sometimes the caregiver suffers alone. And it is OK. My husband is out right now. It can be easier to cry alone, really. But it also speaks to the loneliness of the caregiving experience, I think. The interviewer also asked her if she missed the man she married. Yes, she said, and she thinks he could still be in there, and she asks him sometimes to come out and be with her. He was at the end stage when the documentary was filmed. And it made me think of the time a friend of Mom’s – this was about two years ago, when the friend was still trying to have regular lunches with Mom – said she missed Mom. It’s weird to miss someone whose body is right there in front of you, but whose personality is so dramatically altered by a terrible brain disease. It can make a person want to cry.

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5 comments so far

  1. IcedLatte on

    Well, I’m not sure if it’s any consolation, but your virtual (and real) friends are crying along with you. We can’t share your burden, but we can walk along with you. We can also pour you a glass of wine and serve brownies when need be.

  2. momsbrain on

    Oh, I don’t mean to make anyone else cry! I really don’t. Thank you for the support, Iced.

  3. Judy on

    I watched the documentary series and found The Memory Loss Tapes and Caregivers profoundly moving. Of the four shows one scene continues to replay. It’s of a daughter who quit her job to take care of her mother full time and their entire yard was fenced in. It shows the mother fiddling with the lock and shaking the fence.

    While my mother lives next door to me and is able to sleep at night by herself, my worst fear is that she will begin to wander and I will lose her. So, I can see myself fencing the yard in – lock included.

    Judy.
    http://www.chrissysmoments.blogspot.com

  4. Karin on

    I’m just getting caught up on some of your posts, and this one really touched me, especially the part about missing someone who’s right there. My grandma’s death was easier than my grandpa’s has been, partly because we still had him when she died, but also I think because we’d been missing her and mourning her for years by the time she actually passed. Clare never really got to know the grandma that I knew my whole life, even though Clare was nearly 8 when Grandma died. It makes me so sad.

  5. momsbrain on

    Karin, this makes sense and it is sad. What makes me sad right now about Mom is that even though I miss the old Mom, I don’t feel like I have very good memories of what she was like before she was sick. The illness crept up on me, so for a long time, I have known her only as someone whose brain doesn’t work right. It’s not fair to her to not remember her in a better way…


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