It’s 2:30 in the morning, and I am wide awake. Sleep eludes me. It’s been a crappy day. A long crappy day.
Mom had two appointments scheduled for today: Follow up with cardiologist and the long-awaited dementia evaluation. She knew about both appointments, but I know she did not fully comprehend what the evaluation entailed. In fact, I’m pretty sure she didn’t remember the evaluation was even on the calendar. We talked about it several weeks ago when it was first lined up, but her loss of memory has become a sore point so I don’t ‘go there’ any more than necessary.
The day just started out bad. We have over an hour drive to the doctor’s location, and Mom was cranky and irritable the whole way. I was practically biting my tongue in half by the time we arrived. Once at the office, the nurse, doctor, and receptionist all got a dose of cranky-pants. My sister and I tried to cover for her, and Mom says, ‘ my children are too nice’. I don’t think that was meant as a compliment.
At lunch, Mom didn’t like the size of the salad, and barely touched her soup. She seemed bored with the conversation, and frankly, tired of us. I could be mad, and yes, I was somewhat, but mostly, I was just sad. Six months ago, Mom would relish an outing with her two daughters. She would devour her lunch and steal every conversation. Who is this woman?
I was gearing up to confront her behavior, but after lunch, we relaxed at my sister’s house between appointments, and Mom settled down and seemed less frustrated with life. Ok. Good. I hate conflict.
Before we left for the appointment, I reminded her that we were going to talk about her memory issues with this new doctor. But once there, I know she still felt ambushed. Betrayed.
The doctor was wonderful. He was kind, gentle, and extremely tactful. He treated us all with respect, and I was very impressed with him. The evaluation lasted an hour and a half with questions directed mostly to Mom, but some to me as well. Mom didn’t fail miserably. But she did fail. That’s probably a bad way to express it. As a failure. But today, the test was about living independently and driving again.
He said no to both in the end.
There. Now. We. Know.
My sister got to get in her car and drive away after the appointment. I wasn’t so lucky. The car ride home was a bit tense. Mom had a few things to say in the first few minutes then sulked most of the way home. Ok. I’ll give her that. It stinks. I don’t blame her. I’d be mad too.
Five miles from home, I told her that I have to be gone for most of the day tomorrow, but she can stay back and relax. My youngest daughter will be there to keep her company. Mom says, ‘I can just go home’. Her comment surprises me. What? ‘Mom, the doctor said you cannot live alone right now’. ‘He did not! He said my memory was fine’. Sigh.
We toss that convo back and forth for while, and I finally decide some tough love is overdue. ‘Mom…
…we all enter phases of life not of our own choosing. ie. the empty nest, the loss of a spouse. THIS is just another phase of your life. You may not like it; we don’t either. We want you to go home. But that is not an option. You can be mad about the change. You can be mad about being sick. But that doesn’t alter the facts. This new phase doesn’t mean you don’t have a life. You just have a new life. And you have embraced change before. You can choose to find the best things in this new phase or you can sulk. The choice is yours’.
Is she sulking? Is she mad? Discouraged? Depressed? Sad? Yes. Absolutely yes.
I think she needs time to grieve. Maybe we both do. She has lost the life she knew, and I have lost the mother I knew.
A new phase for both of us.
May we both embrace the change and find the best parts of this new life.
I hope she can find joy, and peace, and contentment. I hope her world will make sense again and she can find her rightful place. I hope she shines again.
But for right now — it still feels like just a long crappy day.
Lord, more than ever, we need your wisdom and discernment. We need patience and kindness. The next few days and weeks may be very difficult as we make hard decisions. Please direct us. May we do what is best for Mom. May we shower her with love, and comfort her as she enters a new phase of life. May she know that she is loved. Prepare her; and may she be willing to explore some new exciting options. Lord, we need your strengthen and compassion. Please guide us.