It’s early Sunday morning, and everyone is still asleep, but I am restless. This is a day of decision for my Mom. My brother, sisters and I are going to meet for supper and discuss Mom’s care. She is determined she is going home. We thought it best to brainstorm first with each other, and then sit down later with her and talk about the options. My daughter is going to distract “Gramma” with an invitation to watch a movie.
This is the closest thing to a “date night” that my husband and I have had in months.
I have very mixed emotions about my mother (ha! no surprise there.) Yes, there has been a total disruption of my life since she came to live with us. Every decision I make every day involves her. Can she go with me? Can she stay here alone? Will she be able to sit that long? Will she be able to stand that long? Where are the restrooms? Can someone come here to be with her while I slip away for a few hours? My mom is at the top of the list every day.
However, there has been peace and comfort in this arrangement. I know she is eating well. I know she isn’t driving. I can manage the congestive heart failure easier. I know when she remembers.
And I know when her stories are a jumbled mess.
I am often amazed when I hear her talking on the phone to family and friends. Her recollection of any given day can be totally accurate or it can be a combination of things she has done over the past week or two. Does that matter? I don’t know.
If she goes home, will she eat right? No, I’m pretty certain she will not. Does that matter? The right answer to that is, yes of course, as it affects her health. She has congestive heart failure — diet is crucial in managing it. However, I think Mom would rather live the way she wants to live — and be happy for whatever time that allows — than change her ways and be miserable as she lives out her days.
If she goes home, can she organize her day? Her dementia plays out in confusion and distraction. She depends on me for everything right now. But am I helping her or hurting her? Would she be better if she had to do more herself? I don’t know.
So we usually leave for church shortly after 9 am. At 7:50, Mom still isn’t up, and I knock on her door, ‘Mom, are you going to church? We’ll leave in an hour or so”. I continue to get ready, but Mom doesn’t get up until 8:45. Really? Seriously? My knee-jerk reaction is irritation with her. How do I say this? Church hasn’t ever been her favorite… church isn’t something she looks forward … Well, let’s go this route: Church is something I look forward to each week. Church is a place where I worship my God and see many of my friends each week. It is important to me, and I was looking forward to going this morning. So I am a little honked off that she couldn’t get up. She has been up at 7:15 every day this week.
She will probably not sleep too late on Tuesday morning when her friend is expected at 8 a.m. to take her for their first golf outing of the season (she just plans to ride the cart and possibly putt a couple of holes). I express my frustration to my husband. (Yes, he sees the real, ugly me.) And he replies, ‘she probably doesn’t even know it’s Sunday’. Well, yes, there is that. And even though every day this week, she has talked about going home on Saturday or Sunday, and counted down the days. And even though we talked about going to church just before she went to bed, she may indeed not remember that it is Sunday. Or she might. I don’t know.
Do I go to church? Do I stay home with her? Hard to believe this might be a day of decision when there is so much indecision.
The one – and only — time I’ve left her alone for 2 hours, she packed up everything she owns. She had her suitcase full and her shoes in a bag. The dresser was wiped clean, and all her personal jewelry, perfume and lipstick was packed in her purse.
So when in doubt? Don’t.
I apologize to my husband for being cranky, and I change into some casual-stay-at-home clothes. I grab another cup of coffee and walk into the living room to ask my mother, ‘would you like yogurt or toast with your coffee this morning?’