Day 2 of mom’s adventures in her new care home. Last night was such a good time with mom laying happily in bed, looking at the quilt with our baby photos on them and commenting on them over and over again. Clearly they brought her joy, love and peace.
Today, however, was another story. I felt like I ran from there as fast as I could but not without wounds that will likely turn into scars that only forgiveness and love can heal. Right now I am still nursing and licking my wounds. I have retreated into protection mode but messaging with my sisters, who know me and what we are all going through, has helped me. But it will take a little time before the wounds will heal and fade away.
What has caused such a retreat and images of wounds and scars?
My mother was not the same woman whom I spent time with last night. This woman was caustic, argumentative, paranoid and convinced men were coming to take the children including her baby, a doll. She didn’t seem to comprehend that I was her daughter and acted as if I was of no consequence to her. I found her in another man’s room trying to put his shirt on over her own. She tried to cover him with various items but he didn’t respond at all. When she wheeled towards his bathroom, I decided the charade was up and wheeled her out and directed her wheelchair down the hallway. She wanted to go into every room, even if the door was shut, and I patiently pointed out the pictures at each door to show whose room it was and reminded her she couldn’t go in there. It was like she heard me, but deliberately ignored me, and I would have to wheel her back or keep the door shut with my hand and she would be angry and argue with me.
Then, suddenly, she turns to me and says “shut up stupid bitch!” I whirled backward as if slapped and the tears came moments later. I tried to keep them in but she saw them but didn’t say anything and tried to wheel over my foot. My mother has called me a bitch one other time during my teenage years that stung like a slap as well. This felt worse. I guess because I had been spending all this time and experiencing much emotional angst for her well-being only to be treated with contempt.
In my brain I know that this is not how my “normal” mother would act and that it was the Alzheimer’s forever altering her brain. But my heart is not so willing to let go of the tight clench after every beat.
After talking to the nurse and aides, I decided to just go home. There is no helping her when she is in this state and I should have known that. Really – it is my own fault. I’ve seen signs of this behaviour before but I haven’t learned to retreat fast enough. My bruised heart reminds me that next time I will. She can’t learn to adapt her behaviour, but I can.
Such thoughts seem logical and reasonable, but my heart hasn’t allowed them to penetrate yet and tears continue to fall quickly down my cheeks.
Thank you, God, for sisters who know. Sisters who care for the same woman changing and fading before our eyes. Sisters who let me vent and share the agony even though it must hurt them, too. It is not only MY mother that has changed, but theirs, too. I wonder if their heart aches, too. I wonder if they try to protect their hearts from the pain of this maddening, incurable disease called Alzheimer’s?