A little time off

It’s the end of a three-day weekend. I didn’t spend much time with Mom. I’m trying not to feel guilty about it.

Friday was a holiday. It began in an unexpected way. I overslept – until 9:45 a.m. That is virtually unheard of in our house because one of our dogs routinely starts whining in the morning when he gets hungry. 8:45, maybe. I really don’t remember the last time the dog let me sleep until 9:45. It was nice to get that sleep, but I was also feeling panicky almost immediately. I had wanted to get to Mom’s facility to arrange for her to have her hair done. It has been the topic of interest all week – staff there kept asking me if Mom could have her hair done again. It was important for me to tell the beautician that that was OK. So I called the beautician and let her know it would be fine for Mom to get her hair done anytime she shows up at the salon. She went once with her friends. I didn’t expect her to ever show up independently. We tentatively arranged for Mom to have her hair done that afternoon, when her friends were supposedly due for an appointment.

I figured I would still go visit Mom since I hadn’t seen her since Tuesday. When I walked into the lobby, Mom was on the couch and Ginny and Alice were on either side of her. “Should I go ahead and tell her?” Ginny said. And I said, “You’re all getting your hair done this afternoon, right?” Ginny said no. “Why would we get our hair done?” Alice said. And then Ginny went on to tell me that Mom had been upset, she was saying untrue things about her friends, that sometimes Mom seemed to misinterpret things people said to her. Mom didn’t say much. I asked her if she wanted to go to her apartment and she said yes. As she stood up, I turned my face to Ginny and made a face suggesting I was sorry, that Mom is confused, that I hoped it would blow over. Ginny said she expected it would.

Mom couldn’t articulate what had happened. Ginny had said something about Mom being upset when someone said “You forgot to put your pants on.” I suspected there was a chance Mom had come out of her apartment inappropriately dressed and someone needed to help her fix that. Mom can interpret any direct talk that sounds like a command as a disrespectful and hurtful comment. I told her about five times that everyone likes her, that even if someone hurt her feelings, what that person meant to do was be helpful rather than hurtful. I decided to shower her. With the ladies saying they weren’t going to the beautician, I figured Mom could use a shampoo. And she could virtually always use a shower. I took all of her clothes off, and her jewelry, and her glasses, and tried to get the shower warm before I had her step in. But she was cold immediately. I shampooed her hair and washed her body with a washcloth. I gently washed her face. I rinsed her as well as I could. I didn’t make much of a mess. We toweled her off and I put deodorant under her arms and sprinkled powder all over her. I dressed her in white pants, an aqua striped shirt and a red cotton jacket. I combed her hair and put some lipstick on her.

We went to sit in the lobby area for awhile. A cookout was planned that day, and I waited until it was time to be seated. I went out with Mom and she wanted to sit at the same table as Alice. And Alice wanted to sit next to Mom. So we asked a man at the table to move over one spot, which he kindly did. And then the activities director asked me if I was staying. I said no, that I hadn’t let anyone know I’d be there for lunch. She didn’t give a darn. “You should stay,” she said. So I did. We had cucumber salad, baked beans and a hot dog. Mom rejected the salad, including the tomatoes. She used to love tomatoes. She had a burger instead of a hot dog. When lunch was over, she asked me if I would make sure she could get back to her apartment. We were in a courtyard right off the lobby, yet she didn’t know where she was because it was unfamiliar. I walked her back to the lobby and to her apartment. Then she stopped in the dining room to tell Ginny she was sorry about what had happened. Ginny said, “Oh, get out of here.” I think Ginny’s tendency to say things that way, in a completely innocent way, might be confusing to Mom. But these things always pass. After that, Mom walked me to the lobby and to my car.

I haven’t seen her since. Friday evening, Patrick and I drank a new cocktail he learned about from a colleague – bourbon slush. We grilled steaks and went to a movie. I took another kind of drug to try to help me fall asleep, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t fall asleep. And when I woke up, I felt as if I had gotten no rest at all. I felt that way most of the day. I napped off and on for about two hours. I got my first wind just in time for a cookout at my dad’s and a soccer game. Saturday night, I slept fine. Today, we did our usual chores and then went to the pool. While we were walking there, I said, “I am blowing off visiting Mom today.” Patrick teased me a little about it. We later went out for burgers and fries. And then he did something for me that I have done for Mom. He took me for a Sunday drive. We went to Highbanks Park and drove along the loop through the park. We walked a short trail and visited the nature center. We talked about coming back some other evening so he could run a trail while I took a walk. It’s a really nice park. I probably haven’t been there since high school.

I will go see Mom tomorrow around lunch. I’ll see how she’s doing and hope she’s as cheerful as she has been recently. I’ll pick out some clothes for her to wear on Tuesday after her shower. I doubt she’ll have any idea that I took the weekend off from seeing her.

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4 comments so far

  1. Ann on

    I am addicted to your entries. It makes me feel more connected with what you are going through and I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate you sharing this aspect of your life with us. I am also thankful that you have Patrick to join you on this journey. You are doing a great job with your mom and she is so lucky to have you.

  2. momsbrain on

    Oh, Ann, thank you! I am touched that people are interested in reading this diary of mine. I’m definitely lucky to have Patrick. Mom is so unlucky to have been stricken with this disease, but I am glad I’m around to try to make things easier for her. Lots of people look after her, really. I am lucky that that is the case.

  3. Elizabeth on

    I want to echo Ann’s comment here. I often read these and think about various things to post, but the main point of all those unposted thoughts is that you really amaze me with all that you do for your mom. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to keep up with what’s going on with her and with you and Patrick, and I thank you for that. The last one, about the things she said while taking the drive and getting ice cream, nearly made me cry (in a good way). I’m happy to know that you are both doing well through all of the difficult things you have to do.

  4. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Elizabeth (days later…). It’s funny, I get something out of the writing of the blog itself, for sure. But I can’t deny I also like the feedback. Of any kind, not just compliments. But the reinforcement, I guess, is comforting, especially when I feel worn out or like I’m not doing a good job.


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