Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winter rain

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.

We had a short visit this afternoon. The bone-chilling rain has mom in a dither as she watches from her window. Winter is creeping in and she worries she won't be able to get her dog out for a bathroom walk for the rest of the day. She's blaming family for not coming to her rescue and taking her south for the winter -- a familiar theme this time of the year. She says she is discouraged and feels forgotten.

As always, she talks about how much she appreciates my brother Dennis who lives nearby and helps out by making sure her prescription medicines are stocked as well as her pantry. But she isn't happy with the rest of the family that never comes to call, and never calls. 

Today she is suffering from the same sore throat she had two weeks ago. Says it is her sinuses draining and she will gargle with salt, but puts off going to the doctor because she hates waiting forever in  his office only to have him prescribe more medicine that will end up costing her money.

Her cleaning woman was there -- the one she likes. She vacuums, does laundry (mom thinks) and cleans the place up. Mom can never be more thankful and appreciative for what a cleaning woman does. That is because she spent many years cleaning other peoples' houses and understands that it is very hard work. The "girl" cleans other apartments in mom's complex. She has a little boy and brings him along sometimes -- but not on Saturday as her husband is home to take care of him.

Mom says the other cleaning woman from some volunteer agency who came a month or two ago didn't work out. Mom says the woman went to the Sub station to get them some food and ended up charging more that $30 on mom's card for food she kept for herself. I have NO idea if this actually happened. Mom's had other complaints about that one, but this is the first I heard of this.

She does get confused. She was telling me she has one pair of corduroy pants and those are the ones she loves to wear most when it is cold. I checked on this with sister-in-law Vicki and she confirmed mom has four pairs. I was concerned that she was wearing the same pants everyday, thank goodness, she isn't.

For a little of our remembering exercise, we talked about the house full of people mom took care of when I was growing up, including we kids, dad, dad's parents and his sister Theresa. Also talked about the time my brother Jim shot a squirrel, skinned it and nailed the hide to his bedroom wall. Wasn't long before it started stinking and developing maggots. "I was thinking the other day about some of the things he would do. He was always doing something."

We cut our conversation short, because of mom's throat. I promised to call her tomorrow, which she knows is church day because she is now crossing out each day on the calendar Dennis set up for her.

"I love you, mom."

"I love you, too, sweetheart."

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