I just gave the okay this week to have my mother moved into what is called a higher functioning dementia unit. I understand in my head that this is absolutely the best thing I can do for her; but in my heart… Well, that’s a whole different set of emotions.
My mother was always the strong one. The one who rarely showed emotion, the one who insisted I know my American History – the one who tried her best to make me a “lady.”
My mother had a memory for the smallest of details. She loved history; especially the American Civil War. She knew names and places and little tidbits about almost every battle. She read and collected books and studied everything she could. She wanted to know why certain things happened the way they did. It was important for her to understand.
She signed my father up for a reenactment unit in the 1960’s and we traveled from Antietam to Bull Run to Gettysburg. We camped on the battlefields, we walked on ground where thousands of men fought and died, and it was my mother who made her 11-year-old daughter understand that this was something I needed to know. We walked battlefields and she would suddenly stop walking and tell me to just be still and listen. “Listen” she would say; “can you hear the cannons? “Do you hear the men yelling?” “And can you hear the horses?” “Close your eyes; can you smell the smoke?” The thing is – I really could see and hear and smell it all. She was amazing in her powers of persuasion. To this day when I visit a battlefield or a place where history has taken place – I will be still and listen. You can hear and see and smell – it’s all still there…
My mother loved to play Trivial Pursuit – and to say that she hated to lose would be an understatement! She rarely lost because she remembered everything about everything. She read all the time and she would store all this knowledge and bring it out when you would least expect it.
This is no longer my mother. This dreadful disease is taking her away bit by bit. My heart breaks for her and selfishly for myself. It’s hard to watch and harder yet to try to explain to her when she no longer understands. She’s scared and confused and yes, a tad bit pissed – and can you blame her?
She has wonderful care and is blessed to be where she is so well taken care of. For this I am more grateful than one could ever imagine. Still – she has no way of knowing what is happening to her – she only knows she’s not where she wants to be and certainly not doing what she wants to be doing. My heart breaks for her…
I am blessed to have a partner who is so supportive and so loving and patient, understanding and ever so willing to just hold me and let me cry. Without her – well I’m not really sure where I would be right now.
I have the most wonderful, loving, supportive friends who are simply there – no matter what. When I ask for prayer and support – it’s there – instantly. Say what you will about Facebook – my friends – those I have met and those I haven’t – have been a great source of strength for me. For this I am most grateful and most surely blessed.
And so we face whatever happens next on this road. Mother will adjust – as she always does – and will not remember that there was even a problem. She will fall into her routine and she will do what she needs to do to survive in her scary unknown world. We all do what we must to survive.
Still… I miss my mother…