Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Good, bad and other

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 91 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 2014. 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.

"Hi, mom. I am sorry I haven't called you in a while, but my husband has lung cancer and that's kept us occupied," I explained as soon as she answered the phone yesterday

"I was wondering why I hadn't heard from you," she replied. "I am so sorry for you (me and Kevin). It is a terrible thing, cancer. I hope it gets better."

She went on to repeat the usual things she tells me about where she lives and what she thinks is going to happen with her. She quizzes me to see if I have more information regarding her future care. I explain, I don't. She goes back to retelling me stuff that happened months ago. She has trouble remembering what she ate for lunch, but issues that bother her, stick in her mind.

She admits she gets, "awfully confused."  She says some people don't understand and she's feeling more like an embarrassment, these days. She brushes it off by saying,"Just wait. They may have the same thing happen to them." Then quickly adds, she wouldn't want it to happen to anyone else.

Mom went to the hairdresser, which she does every Tuesday. She had to touch her hair to make sure it was today that she went. She went on to tell me about Bridget who washes, cuts and perms mom's hair. Mom says it is a short walk from her complex. My brother Dennis drove her back and forth a few times last winter when it was icy out, after mom fell and banged up her head. Mom didn't think his driving her to the beauty shop was necessary, but she understands everyone's concern.

"Oh yeah, mom," I squeezed into the conversation. "Today is my birthday."

"Is it March?" mom replied. March is her birthday month.

"No, it is May," I said. "May 12th. Do you remember the day I was born?" She was trying, but. "Dick was first and then you had me. After dad came back from the war."

"I do remember. You are four or five years younger?" Five. "Yes, I remember it was after he came home. Well, Happy Birthday."

That wasn't going anywhere, so I asked if she remembered the time Grandma Whitney was watching me while mom went out shopping or somewhere and she cut my hair to look like Mamie Eisenhower.  I was five years old.

"Oh yes," she immediately replied.  "I was shocked when I came in and saw your hair. She cut your bangs so short. You had beautiful long hair and she cut it off.

"It was hard at times to take care of people like that, but I loved her and always gave them the best care.She was a wonderful woman"

What I do remember and didn't mention to mom was my aunt who also lived with us goading my grandmother on to get it done before mom came back home.

Clearing something up

I was informed last week that I have inaccuracies in this blog. My father died from heart trouble and suffered from some dementia, not Alzheimer's Disease. Mom had told me years ago he had Alzheimer's Disease, which turns out was not the case. She apparently told others the same thing. We were not close during this time.

This was not intentional, nor do I feel that it has any bearing on the memories and stories I write and the feelings I have toward my parents

But for future clarification, here is a good article about the differences between Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

On the subject of Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia.