Body curiosity

I visited Mom yesterday for the first time in a week. At support group Wednesday, I got one report that she was seen holding hands with her boyfriend, but nothing more advanced than that. When I arrived in the morning, before lunch, Mom was sitting on a couch in the program area next to Mr. R, her boyfriend. In a chair next to him, opposite Mom, however, was another of his girlfriends. And he seemed to be paying more attention to her. When Mom saw me, she stood to hug me. “It’s a miracle,” she said. I sat in a chair next to her side of the couch. We just chatted for a little while. She would occasionally look over at Mr. R to see what he was doing. He wasn’t kissing the other woman, but he was leaning over toward her, whispering with her.

Mom touched her chin, which reminded me that it had been awhile since I plucked her whiskers. So I got out the tweezers and plucked away until she seemed to get a little irritated with the stinging pain. Her hair was clean but messy, so I told her I was going to her room to get a hairbrush. When I came out of her room, she and Mr. R were kissing. I just stood there and stared, and smiled. When they were done, I walked back toward Mom and stood behind her and combed her hair (I couldn’t find her brush, but I found a comb). When I was done, I returned the comb and came back to sit next to her. Mr. R wasn’t paying attention to her anymore. We talked a little bit about this and that. At one point, Mom put her hand in her shirt and nearly exposed a breast to inform me that she wasn’t wearing a bra. She has done this a few times before, once lifting her shirt completely to expose her entire chest. When she does that, I usually say, “But you’re comfortable, right?” And she always says yes. There are bras in her little chest of drawers, but she hasn’t really worn one since she moved to the Alz center. I imagine most women residents there aren’t wearing them anymore.

Mom said maybe we could take a walk so we got up. She looked at Mr. R and waved her finger at him affectionately and said something playful to him, but I couldn’t really hear it. We headed toward the hallway that leads to the lobby, which was bathed in sunlight. I was pointing to how brightly the sun was shining and Mom stopped and began to pull down her pants, including her disposable underwear. It happened quickly so I don’t even know how I reacted, though I was worried she was going to pee there because she had briefly mentioned she might want to pee. “There are shoes in here,” I believe she said, pointing in the direction of the crotch of her pants. “It’s a full moon,” a nurse behind us shouted in fun. Mom pulled up her pants and started laughing, though I don’t think she got the joke. The nurse said Mom had been asking recently where her pussy was – if I heard correctly, and I’m pretty sure I did. “I think she is interested in that part of her body right now,” I said. And the nurse said that is true, but that she can’t get her friend to go there. “Just holding hands and kissing,” she said. And I said, “And that’s just fine, isn’t it?” And we nodded and just sort of went our separate ways chuckling. I started walking with Mom and I said, “They were saying there is a full moon because they could see your butt.” And she laughed and said, “Oh, what a wonderful surprise.” It was such a weird and thankfully brief sequence of events.

We got to the lobby and Mom spotted another friend, a frequent visiting family member. Mom went up and hugged him and he very enthusiastically greeted her. He said to me that Mom had planted a big kiss on him earlier in the day. And I just sort of muttered I was sorry, and that I hope she doesn’t bother him. “It’s an interesting situation,” he said. I’m wondering if he is getting a little tired of Mom.

She and I were going to sit on a couch, but before we even got there Mom decided to keep walking, and headed back toward the program area. Which was fine, because it was almost time for lunch. I got her situated in a chair at a table and put her bib on her. The bibs are basically hand towels with straps that reach around the neck and attach with a fabric button. Not everyone wears one, but I encourage Mom to because she is messy and avoids getting food on her clothes this way. And she doesn’t seem to mind. Some more functioning residents don’t like them. And the trays came and Mom’s was one of the first to arrive. She started to eat. I chatted a little bit with the husband of a resident sitting across from us. His wife just moved in. He has come to a couple of support group meetings. He took care of his wife for many years before she was hospitalized and then placed at the Alz center. They have been married for 59 years. He seems to be doing pretty well. He visits every day. His wife has improved since she moved in – she used to not talk at all, and now she can say quite a bit.

I decided to call it a day and told Mom I was going to leave but that I would be back in a few days. “I’ll miss you,” she said. She hasn’t said that before. Though I doubt she actively misses me, that is still weighing on me a little bit.

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6 comments so far

  1. plettahar on

    A full moon! that’s funny. wow, tho, what an “interesting” situation, indeed. This whole thing really is like raising children in reverse…

  2. momsbrain on

    I have often imagined that parts of this experience resemble raising children – in much smaller doses, of course. I loved the full moon comment, too. No shame, no worries, just teasing Mom when she shows her butt to the world.

  3. jeff on

    Again, I had to laugh out loud. 🙂 It’s almost as if you’re being punked, though there are no hidden cameras to document your reactions. It’s SO interesting. I don’t have much more to say than that….

  4. Emily on

    It is interesting. Always entertaining. I mostly just try to stay calm and not make Mom feel embarrassed. I don’t know if she is capable of feeling embarrassed anymore, though. 🙂

  5. Jennifer on

    I have slowly been going through your entries. You are an amazing writer!!! It is heartwarming and heartbreaking to read. I have a “this is amazing/this is depressing” relationship with your blog (mostly amazing and frequently funny).

    I cannot get over the fact that your Mom is currently 72 I believe. My Mom just turned 90. She does have some of the crazy going on (it is brutal when I go back for a month to three weeks at a time). When I do I am taking care of her 24/7.

    Help me with the math here. Was your Mom in her late 60’s when she first started showing symptoms? I just find that stunning. I am assuming that you are much younger then I (no need to out your age).

    It seems like all of my friends are currently dealing with older parents (many with parents in their 90’s). I am 51. My Dad would be 96 (if he were still alive). Yes, I was a late in life baby for my generation. Not so much this day and age.

    I am not free to write whatever I want on my blog. I love that you do.

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, Jennifer – I am not that much younger than you. I am 44, and I am Mom’s youngest. But you are right, my mom showed the first signs at about age 65 or so. She drank for many years, stopping when she was about 50, and when she was diagnosed, she asked if that was a cause. The doctor said it did not cause her Alzheimer’s, but that it gave her “less brain to work with.” So had she not been a drinker, perhaps she would have gotten sick later in her life – that’s my interpretation, anyhow.

    Thank you for the compliment about my writing. I should say I write for a living, so I am lucky in that regard. As far as writing whatever I want – at first, I was trying to stay anonymous so I could write freely. I eventually decided there was nothing to hide. Sometimes I worry that Mom would be ashamed of what I write about her – but I do not do it to shame her. This whole blog is an homage to her. I just try to write honestly about what I see, hear and experience with her, so that others may have a better understanding of how bizarre this disease can be. There is so much more to it than a lack of memory.

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I need to catch up on your blog!


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