‘I want my mommy’

That headline – that’s not me talking. Mom said those words today. I went to visit her this morning after a doctor’s appointment. I hoped to also see a support group friend because I heard last night that her husband wasn’t doing well. I found out this morning that he died last night. It is a shock. The last time I saw him, 10 days or so ago, he was all smiles while his wife fed him.

I found Mom walking in the program area with a man I had never met before. I hugged Mom, and she seemed to enjoy being greeted by me. And her gentleman friend held out his hand and introduced himself to me. I told him that I am Emily, Bonnie’s daughter, and he seemed to comprehend what I said. I’ll call him Mr. Beard. He has a beard and he was wearing an Ohio State sweatshirt. I liked him right away. I wondered where Mr. R was and at the same time I was glad he wasn’t around. The door to his room was closed.

Mom, Mr. Beard and I walked around together briefly. Mom seemed just a little bit fussy. She chattered on, but she was knitting her brow from time to time. She didn’t seem quite as content as she has in the past. We sat together on a couch for a short while. I noticed with dismay that it smelled like urine. That’s two of four couches that have that smell. I sat in a chair next to the end of the couch that Mom was sitting on. I touched her hair. It was pretty clean and more curly than usual. She was restless, so we got up again. Mom took my hand and we started walking. I told Mr. Beard I would bring her back, and also said he could come along. He stayed put. He seems laid back and good-natured.

Mom and I walked toward the lobby and in the hallway, she stopped and said, out of the blue, “I want to go home. I want my mommy.” I turned and pulled her toward me and held her in a hug. I held on tight, and for several seconds. I was offering comfort and at the same time hoped I was distracting her from her thoughts. “You seem so happy here,” I said. She seemed to enjoy the hug. We walked into the lobby, where a DVD was playing on the TV. A woman on the TV sang, “The bells are ringing for me and my gal. The birds are singing for me and my gal. …” I don’t think it was Judy Garland, however. Mom stopped and conducted an imaginary orchestra in the air and tried to sing along. She had the rhythm and the sound right, but couldn’t muster the words. We walked down the hall, and I sang that chorus quietly a time or two, all the while holding her hand or stroking her back.

Mom hasn’t said she wants to go home in – well, it’s been so long that I don’t remember it. I frankly don’t know if she has said it at all at the Alz center. Even in assisted living, though she initially complained that she was living in a cave, she showed no residual fondness for the apartment she had just vacated. I assume and fervently hope her desire for home today was a fleeting and one-time thing and that she’ll never say it again. More important, I hope she’ll never feel that feeling. As far as she knows, she is home.

When we returned to the program area, Mom headed back to the stinky couch. She stretched out on it in true Bonnie fashion. I sat in a chair next to her head. I stroked her hair a little bit and she stretched out more completely, fully lying down. She began singing to herself, a song I didn’t recognize. She was entertaining herself. But she also seemed tired. It wasn’t long after breakfast, and I tend to think she feels sleepy after meals. I encouraged her to take a nap. I told her I had to get to work and kissed her goodbye. As I chatted briefly with another support group friend at a nearby table, I saw Mom talking quietly to herself, or maybe singing, while still lying on the couch. I’d like to think that was a sign that she was back to her content self, comfortable and safe in her own little world.

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6 comments so far

  1. Lesley Austin on

    Oh Emily…that is such a hard thing to hear. I’m so glad you could just embrace your mom and get her through that moment. It is not uncommon for my mom to say it, I’ve heard it many a time, and each time it strikes dread in my heart. The same for when she brings up her parents and asks where they are. She recently asked where her father was when she was working with a physical therapist and I am pretty sure she felt like he was asking too much of her and she wanted her father to rescue her. I made sure the PT stopped right away, but it is so awful to know that sometimes they feel so lost. One good thing is that it is usually fleeting and can be loved or distracted away…for awhile, atleast.

  2. Barry Lough on

    Hi Emily!
    Again, just using this venue to drop a few lines – no need to post. That was so moving to read about what your mom said and your responding hug – good move on your part, I’d say. Don’t you sometimes still feel that child inside? I do. I’m sure there have been a few times I just wanted to go home and be taken care of for awhile.
    My favorite line from a song is “Like is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Are you familiar with that? It’s from Beautiful Boy by John Lennon. I think that line sums it all up and I think of it often. Somehow this particular blog and my responding brought that to memory.
    Hope you have a nice holiday and get a little r and r. I’m moving tomorrow so will be glad when that’s behind me. Miss you and will be in touch.
    Bye for now. xoxo Barry

  3. momsbrain on

    Lesley: It is definitely a relief that the likelihood is very high that a painful emotion is fleeting. Mom hasn’t said anything similar since. It is so hard to guess what is really going through her mind, but no matter what she says, I reply in a positive way and tell her she has nothing to worry about.

    Barry: This posted on its own – you have become a trusted responder to the blog. Hope you don’t mind… I have heard that line from the John Lennon song, and I think it is pretty much true. I try to be “in the moment” as much as possible, but it’s not easy for me. I might be more tuned in to what life really is if I were able to do that.

  4. patwhite67 on

    Hi Emily,

    Thanks for your recent update of your mom. I miss everyone at support group. Would you please email me regarding the support group member whose husband passed. Thanks very much. Pat

  5. Liz Palika on

    My therapy dog and I are going to visit an Alzheimer facility today. We’re bringing a little Christmas cheer, with jingle bells and red bows and candy canes. But in getting ready to leave the house I just wanted to send you and everyone else affected bu this disease a hug. {{{{Hugs}}}}

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, Pat – Thanks for commenting. Maybe in the new year, we’ll see each other at support group (if you still feel like attending).

    Liz, thanks for the hugs! And thank you for taking Christmas cheer to Alzheimer’s patients. There were three therapy dogs at the Christmas party at my mom’s nursing home, which I was so happy to see. Merry Christmas to you!


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