Bonnie’s birthday

As of today, Mom is 74 years old. I went to visit her today, Hershey bar in hand. I thought that was about the only gift she would need, or want, or understand. I went to the Alz center after lunch. I found Mom sitting with Mr. R on one of their usual couches in the program area. Mr. R waved at me as I approached. I stood in front of Mom and said, “Hi, Mom. It’s your birthday! Happy birthday!” She had just finished putting a sock on her foot. “Who are you?” she asked, just a little abruptly. I said, “I’m Emily. I haven’t seen you in awhile. But it’s your birthday!” I pulled up a chair and sat across from her. I took the Hershey bar out of my purse and said, “Here’s some chocolate.” She liked the sounds of that. I broke off a piece and tried to hand it to her. She would reach out toward my hand but couldn’t seem to place her hand next to mine to take the chocolate. I held it up to her mouth and she took a big bite. With other pieces, I placed the chocolate in her hand, and she fed it to herself. She has had that problem before, where she can’t seem to reach to where she wants her hand to go. I don’t know if it’s a perception problem because that part of her brain is affected, or a lack of vision since she is without her glasses now, or what.

I gave Mr. R a few bites of chocolate. I went to Mom’s room to wash my hands and brought out a wet paper towel to clean her hands. I got one sock from her closet and put it on her other, bare, foot. Her closet was a mess. It is time for me to wash her summer clothes and put them in her closet, and take her winter clothes back to my house until it’s cold again. Maybe this weekend. Mom seemed interested in my pants and feet. At one point, she removed one of my shoes – a flip-flop. She asked me where I lived and what I had been doing all day. And she said a lot of things that lacked context, but sounded like stories, and she amused herself sometimes.

Mom smiles while telling a story. I like it that she still smiles and laughs a lot.

Mom stood up eventually, appearing to want to take a walk. Mr. R declined to come along. I told him I’d bring Mom back. We held hands and walked toward the lobby. When we got there, Mom stopped, faced me, put her hands on my shoulders, and said, “You’re the best.” I said, “You are, too.” And we had a big hug. She talks nonsense much of the time, but she can still convey a compliment like that sometimes, which is very nice for me. We sat on the couch. I had noticed she had a bruise on the left side of her head – a doozy of a bump when it happened, I’m sure. I had slightly conflicted feelings about it. Since it’s such a visible bruise, I kind of felt like someone should have called me about it. However, I know that the residents bump into things, fall, get hit by something or someone, stuff like that, and that whatever happened was surely an accident. Heck, maybe Mom was too enthusiastic with a kiss for Mr. R. They did some kissing today, so it’s possible. But while I was sitting there, I took a picture of it.

The bruise is not all that visible, but from the left-center of her forehead up into her hairline, it probably covered about two inches.

I touched it softly and asked if it hurt, but Mom had no reaction. I could feel the bump. I gently touched her hair and her head, and gave her a little head massage. Her hair was clean and wavy. I checked her head for any other bumps in the process, and didn’t feel anything. Mom mentioned the name Nancy a couple of times – that is her sister’s name, and also the name of a neighbor in her old apartment who shared the same birthday. I told her about her neighbor, and she said, “Is that right?” Just like the old Bonnie would say.

After sitting for awhile, she stood up, ready to walk again. We returned to the program area. Mom sat briefly in one of the chairs in the activity circle. By the time I pulled a chair over to sit next to her, she had gotten up again. We went over to rejoin Mr. R on the couch. Mom patted the seat next to her, and I sat down on the couch, too. I told her I had to get back to work. I kissed her cheek, saying, “Patrick wanted me to give you a kiss.” She seemed to like getting a kiss. She turned to Mr. R and kissed him. We walked a little bit more, the three of us this time. And then we returned to the program area. I worked on convincing Mom to sit down. A woman resident who had been having a bad day, who was crying, sat across from us on a couch, being comforted by a male resident. Mom was a little distracted by that. Mom stood up, put her hands on my shoulders again, and gave me a smooch. I think by this point, Mr. R had had about enough of me and my affection for and from Mom. I pulled a chair up next to him and patted the seat, the way Mom had done to encourage me to sit with her. She finally sat down, and I dashed away before she had a chance to stand up again.


12 comments so far

  1. JenniferJayhawk on

    I am going to be honest (and hope I don’t get hate mail). We keep hoping for my Mom’s memory to go down a notch. She is with it enough to be mean, nasty and make all of us miserable. It is so hard that we all just back down and throw our hands up.

    Then I read about your Mom and it makes me sad and I think I am horrible and should be more grateful. I guess my brother’s and I just didn’t visualize that the last images of our Mom would be so negative. Everything is a battle, gripe, complaint and she is always right!

  2. momsbrain on

    Oh, Jennifer, I have wanted what you want. Please don’t beat yourself up about that. It is heartbreaking to have a parent turn mean. I’ve been lucky; Mom’s difficult period was relatively short, and she was never mean. Just super anxious and suspicious. I wanted Mom’s memory to fade before I moved her to a nursing home because I was afraid she would reject it. Anyone who would judge you has not been there. It seems like a “wrong” thing to wish for, but actually, the more extensive loss of memory is easier on the patient, too, I believe. Mom is as relaxed as she has ever been. One option you have – if your mom is on Aricept, you could take her off of that. The doc who runs support group has said some patients actually behave better when it’s discontinued. Good luck and take care.

  3. Laura on

    Happy Birthday Mom! I have been thinking of her all day. I’m glad you had a nice visit with her.

  4. Sherri on

    Happy Birthday to your Mom!

  5. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Sherri!

    Hi, Laura! She had a good day, I think. And I was happy about how the visit went, too, even with Mr. R around.

  6. karen on

    What a wonderful birthday gift. My mom would of loved it in the day. Now she would not be able to eat it but she used to live on baby Ruth candy bars. Mom is at home with me and when she could walk she got many bumps and bruises . I think I might of ask a nurse about it just so they know I saw it. But I’m and sure it was a accident. So glad your mom can get up and about and in a good mood. I do wish mom was doing so good. I would love to go visit her and be a daughter instead of a caregiver. Sounds like your mom is in a wonderful place that makes her happy. Thinking of you both. Good luck always.

  7. momsbrain on

    Karen, Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry you’re feeling the loss of your mom’s better days. I had thought I wouldn’t feel as sad as I do about Mom at this stage. I now anticipate things being a little harder than I had ever expected. But you are right, she is in a safe and well-run facility and thankfully is in a good mood almost all of the time. I commend you for having your mother at home with you – I really can’t imagine it, even though I hear from others in my support group who are doing just that. Thinking of YOU. Take care.

  8. Meg on

    Our mothers are the same age. How cool. 🙂

    Happy Birthday to Bonnie, and happy us that you shared it!

  9. Jeff on

    i love the picture of Mom smiling while telling her story.

  10. momsbrain on

    Meg: Thanks, and I hope things are smoothing out with your mom.

    Jeff: Yes, it’s cute. I was glad I caught that. She doesn’t really know how to smile for the camera, so I was lucky with that one.

  11. julie on

    I like the look of your mom. I think I would like her.

  12. momsbrain on

    Thanks, Julie. She is a character.

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