Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When it's Christmas

This post is part of a log of phone conversations between me and my mother who has dementia. We are reminiscing and catching up. Mom is 90 and moved from the family farmhouse to a sort of assisted living apartment in upstate New York. I live in Florida. We have not had much contact for several years until I started calling her every few days, in August. My goal is to reconnect with her, be someone who will listen to her and share memories. These posts include parts of our conversations I feel important to write about such as events and things she wants to discuss from her life, her family and growing old. She so enjoys our phone calls. Her memory comes and goes. It seems like she has more alert days since I started calling, but that may be my wishful thinking. I am learning a lot about her status in life and how it's changed over the years from being the strong maternal figure to an elderly person who at times feels forgotten as well as forgetful.

If you sent mom a Christmas card, she never got it. Or, doesn't remember getting it. Nor did she realize Christmas Day is Thursday, when we talked Monday evening. She went on about going to my brother's for Christmas and she is hoping he moved to the farm house which has been vacant since she was moved to an apartment in a senior complex. She can't get over that. She planned to live in the old house forever, and keep dad's memory alive, living with her in the house where he was born.

It is the way our conversations have been going -- from total resignation and wanting to give the property to the local volunteer fire department to living in a dream where she returns to her Tara (Gone With the Wind). She let a few "dream" things slip when we talked last night. Like she wants Dennis and Vicki to move into the farm house, so maybe she can live with them there. They already have a home, but that is beside the point.

She has more reasons for wanting to move. I am getting just her side, but she thinks the management at her apartment complex is conspiring against her  -- and her dog. According to mom, the new manager brought up things that are in her records and from the past, that shouldn't be brought up. Like her moving in with a dog, her taking the dog into community rooms that are off limits to pets in respect to residents with allergies and some other things she told me about, but I won't mention. She feels like it is a vendetta against her to bring up a list of things that happened, maybe years ago, every time something goes wrong.

Mom blames it on dementia. And this is where it gets tricky. Mom has it, knows she has it. She says she doesn't always know what she is saying, doing or who she is talking to and may not be acting appropriately. She didn't say it that way, but this is what mom meant. She thinks people who deal with people like herself should be more understanding and professional in the way they handle an incident.

Mom's gone from worrying that the management at her complex is consorting to get rid of her, to where she now hates them and is trying to dream up an escape. And I don't know the answer.

Mom told me she was very confused, but now, she thinks things are becoming clearer. I wish it were so.

Anyway, if you call her or someone else you know who has dementia to wish them a happy holiday, they probably won't remember your call -- or who you are, If you are in the neighborhood and drop by, they likely won't remember the visit. So, maybe do it for yourself. Share a memory with them and pass it on.

"I love you, mom." "I love you, too, sweetheart." Merry Christmas and Happy holidays to all.

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