My Mother the Bully

The stained glass has been spun in a new direction – one that I really didn’t think I’d ever be contemplating. My mom a bully? Could it be? Is it possible? As a mom who has been a scaredy cat most of her life to a woman enjoying bullying someone else? Well, you judge, if you will.

During my visit the other day, I was caught by surprise when my mom did something totally out of character. Supper is at 5pm at the home but everyone gathers and sits at the tables in their spots at 4pm.

I am visiting at the usual time 4 – 5ish and arrive to the ladies already sitting around the table silently. I pull up a big chair beside my mom and the lady right next to me, but at the end of the table, slowly scoots her chair away. She is a little lady who kind of sinks into her wheel chair and looks very, well, old. I am slightly amused as I watch her slowly move her place mat, silverware and angle her chair away. After visiting with my mom for a while, I see movement under the table and I see my mom slowly move her foot over to this little old lady’s foot and she presses down on it. The little lady turns her head (kind of like an owl, really) and looks at mom who is sitting there with a smirk on her face. Appalled, I say “Mom! What are you doing? Why did you do that?” and mom says “She likes it.” What was I supposed to say to that? I look at the other lady and she does have this slight impish look but I say to my mom “I don’t think she liked that. Look at her face. Does she look like she likes it when you stomp on her foot?” My mom, very smug, says “Yes, she does.” I feel like I am back at work and dealing with 3 and 4 year olds. “I’m just teasing her.” Yeah, well, teasing is not fun for the one being teased. My mom is not at all repentant and I send an apologetic look to this little old lady. I spend the next few minutes watching for mom’s foot to travel under the table again and this time I would intervene. Who knew she would be her own worst enemy and become someone she always despised – a bully? Shocking.

Maybe now the one day a few weeks back when mom was saying no one wanted to be her friends (again – flashback to preschool) is more understandable. If she’s stepping on people’s feet or goodness knows what else, of course they wouldn’t want to be her friend. How do I help my mother, the bully, who can’t remember what happened 15 minutes ago?

I want to plead with the little old lady, “Use your words! Tell her no in a strong voice. Tell her how it makes you feel! Tell her how you want to be treated.” But alas, she won’t remember 10 minutes from now anyways.

Where does this bullying behaviour come from? She’s been the victim of bullies growing up, hates hearing about them and yet she is doing the same sort of thing. I consider the little old lady – she definitely would seem like a vulnerable victim. Finally power over another person from my mom’s perspective? Something still resonates in her to right the situation and be a bully because she was always a victim? It seems that it would make her more empathetic and certainly not take on the bully role.

This is just all sickening to me. Another thing that I didn’t anticipate with my mom in her senior’s home.

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Reverberations on Glass

The shock waves are still reverberating across my mind and through my heart. If someone were to place their hand on me I imagine there would be shock waves radiating from me. Kind of like when you put your hand on a window while a train is passing nearby. You feel the movement of the glass as it vibrates but does not give way. This was another one of “those” visits with my mom.

My one sister was away with her family when the day came to bring my mom to her “new” home and so she hadn’t yet been to see her. Another sister and I arranged to accompany my sister and her husband. I had just gotten through my spiel on how easy it was to come and visit her as we opened the door into the unit.

I couldn’t see her at first, but I could hear her voice talking loudly. I went in a little further and was initially shocked, and later horrified, to find her in the far corner of the room, facing the corner, in a wheel chair and talking loudly to a tall plant. Once I shook off the initial shock, I hurried over to her and greeted her, turning her around to face everyone. We sat down on the nearby couches and attempted to have a visit with her. This was one of the times I would describe her as being “out of it.” She would stare at each one of us as if she wasn’t too sure who we were or maybe she was looking right through us and seeing someone else entirely. Either way it was freaky and disconcerting in the least.

Eventually we convinced her to take us to her room to show it off. She did not want to go down there as she thought we were there to take her home. We managed to persuade her and made it to her room. Once there, awkward conversation continued with her telling a range of nonsensical stories. She then needed to use the washroom and so I attempted to help her into the washroom and out of her wheel chair to use the facilities. She refused to get out of the wheelchair. I gave her suggestion upon suggestion and just became more and more frustrated with her lack of cooperation. I pushed the “red button” and waited to see what happened. A nurse responded fairly quickly and told us that they have been using the lift on mom to get her out of her chair and onto the toilet. Albeit another shock that she was this immobile already, I was reassured to see that the lift was very gentle and effective.

It’s been only 10 days and already she is dependent on a wheel chair, is talking to people who are not present in reality and must use a lift for bathroom duties. This was all very upsetting and the reverberations are being felt days later. How many reverberations can a stained glass window take until it cracks or shatters? How many reverberations will my heart withstand?

Sleep On What?? as posted on alzheimersforpathfinders

alzheimersforpathfinders

I sometimes sleep on the floor, cause he wiggles & shakes-

A very poor sleep this shaking he makes!

Yes, it’s hard on the floor, I’ve made a little bed-

Out of blankets & a pillow for under my head!

I just get to sleep & I hear a voice in the dark-

A very loud voice- yes, he surely does bark!

“Are you there?” -I really really don’t think you are-

Answer me now – have you gone very far?

I answer -” I’m here” – from down on the floor-

If I don’t answer, he heads for the door!

Sometimes he reaches out & touches my arm-

If I’m not in reach, he thinks I’ve been harmed!

He gets up & turns on every light-

Looking for me or his glasses,  in a fright!

The stillness of the floor is restful to me-

If just once in a…

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The things that he has done as posted on elsieshufflebottom

elsieshufflebottom

Confusion fills his daily life

and memories are gone

of times he spent, of places,

and of things that he has done.

His family tries to shield him

they say that it’s all lies

their loved one is an innocent man

not a criminal in disguise.

But in other people’s heads

the horrors linger on

No place to hide from

hateful deeds –

the things that he has done.

Too late perhaps to prosecute

he couldn’t answer now

But hard for those whose pain

is caused

by the things that he has done.

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Jagged Glass

It has been extremely windy here and it has blown over my very solid wood arbour. It speaks of how I have felt uprooted. The wind seems to get right in between tiny spaces and make a draft. I think of how glass can be shaped and polished by the power of wind and sand. Once polished by wind and sand or by water, the pieces can be sorted, broken and reassembled into something really beautiful. A piece of colourful stained glass can be formed into something lovely. All the struggles of the wind blowing sand or raising tumultuous waves make that piece of coloured glass what it is today. Often people say their struggles were “worth it” as they learned so much and have seen what beauty was revealed.

Are these people remarkably optimistic? Densely stupid? Super spiritual? Conforming to expectations?  Saying it to make others feel comfortable?  Maybe none of these. Maybe all of them.

I don’t think how losing my mom to Alzheimer’s will ever be worth it. It is hard to see it that way right now. It’s hard to see what beauty I can make out of sharp, jagged glass or sand that sifts through my fingers.

I can understand a little about how cutters feel. If I had a sharp piece of glass in my hand right now, I would like to make a cut and let the pain and anger out.

I am sure all my Christian friends would be gasping to hear such things said from a Pastor’s Wife. And perhaps I am being too transparent.

This is the second night my mom has had in her new home. I don’t know that I can really call it a home – a small room with a hospital bed dominating it.

Having some speed bumps along the way as expected, I guess.

When my dad came to have dinner with her tonight, he found her in the tv room trying to get out of her chair and failing. When he helped her up she said she was trying to get out because she had to use the bathroom. I don’t know how long she had been waiting for help, but at home that wouldn’t have happened. She told my dad to get her jacket and they were going home. I’m not sure how he talked her down, but it wasn’t a happy experience. Although my sisters had informed the LPN that my dad was coming for dinner and even took his order, there wasn’t a meal for him at all. No one even acknowledged him until he asked if there was a meal for him. I am hoping this is an off shift or because it is the weekend….

When we left her yesterday, she didn’t argue or fight or beg or cry for us to take her with us. She just sat sadly in the chair gazing out the window. My dad and my sisters said she was fine, just a little out of it.

But I know………she knew exactly what was happening in those few minutes. What she knows now or remembers or thinks, I don’t know. But in those few moments, she knew this wasn’t temporary.

We told her a “loving lie” earlier that day. Dad told her that her Dr. wanted to admit her to check her bad cough, her breathing, her sore foot and her mouth. So, we all went a long and she seemed quite willing to buy it. The only hiccup was when she said she couldn’t live without her family. Quick distraction as we all sucked back tears threatening to fall.

We had the tour with her and sat together in her room, awkwardly wondering what to say, smiling stiffly as she sat somber in her chair. Later we got her settled in her chair from home with her blanket on her and we took our leave, my sisters promising to come back for dinner.

I didn’t go to see her today. I am a coward. I am selfish. I wanted one day “off”. However, I worried all day and caught up with my sisters on how their visits went so it was nothing like a day off. I don’t think you can ever really get away from something like this. My mom lost in her new home without anyone to help her out of her chair. How sad is that?

Oh my God! What have we done?

Sunrise Sundown

My mom has “sundowners” and will often be awake during the night wandering around the house. My long suffering dad is often woken in the night to my mom standing over him and asking if he was sick and wasn’t he going to work? He will say it is 3 am and no, he isn’t going to work because he is retired. She will sometimes have a smart retort or will argue that it isn’t really 3 am. When he suggests she go check the clock she comes back saying “How do I know it is not 3pm? What if you’re lying to me?” She has lost the ability to discern time – even when it is dark as dark can be she doesn’t know that it is night time and she should be sleeping. And she’s suspicious that people are not telling her the truth.

My mom has done many peculiar things during the night when everyone else is in bed. One night she sat at the kitchen table and hollered for someone to come and make her supper at 5 am. Then she called for my dad and when he didn’t come, she tried a few other names of people she thought were there with her – like her mom (who passed away more than 20 years ago.)

One night my dad got up and found my mom “dressed” for “work” and sitting on the couch waiting. When he asked her what she was waiting for she said “They’re coming to take me to work.” When dad asked who “they” were, she didn’t know. She was “dressed” with 2 shirts over her pj top, her pj bottoms on and two different shoes on. She waited for over an hour, getting up every once in a while to check out the door until she finally got up and went back to bed for a few hours. Interestingly, for a period of time she was convinced she was going to work in a school. She didn’t know what school or what she did there, but she was adamant she had to be there. She did work as an aide in a kindergarten classroom over 30 years ago for a couple of weeks so maybe this memory is coming into play.

We are fortunate thus far that she hasn’t done anything dangerous in the kitchen. A couple of times she has put something in the microwave but she doesn’t remember which buttons to push and then promptly forgets.  She did get into the medicine cabinet and dad found her moving bottles around. She said that someone needed to organize them. He explained to her that she could accidentally take the wrong medicine and promptly moved them to a place she couldn’t reach. Not long ago, she accidentally took 2 doses of her meds at one time. Yet another time she ended up taking dad’s pills instead. This can be a serious problem and we are fortunate that nothing bad came out of it. Dad very carefully doles out her medications for her.

Mom does not like the dark anymore. When she is up at night she turns on all of the lights she can – even the ones in the bedroom where Dad is trying to sleep. She pulls all the blinds shuts and is still fearful – of what we are not sure.

In mom’s world, the stained glass is letting in too little light and the coloured pieces of her world are too dark for comfort. In our world, we are desperately trying to maintain the colourful pieces of her personality and life, not diminished by bright light and not left to dull in darkness.