Saturday, July 31, 2010

All Ears!

Now you've probably known someone who can hear good, but they lack in being able to see. My mother is one of them.

Years ago when I was still at home, this talent came to fruition. Our family dogs seemed to like our neighbors house better than ours. Well, because of mother being such a caring and conscientious person back in those days, she would become frantic if our dogs strayed over to the house next door. She and my dad had a habit of sitting on our front porch each night after supper. Mother would listen to see if the neighbors were complaining because our dogs had wondered away. One night in particular, I overheard my daddy comment that her hearing was so good that she could hear a "mouse fart."

My husband and I have learned that by the time you get midway up mother's driveway, you roll your windows up and stop talking. One Saturday morning, I had come to bring mother's medicine. I didn't want to stay long and I knew if my husband went in with me that we'd never get away. As we drove up, forgetting that my window was down, I said in a medium low voice, "just stay in the car, I'll be right back." Well, I had also forgotten about mother's sonic hearing. She rose from her chair on the porch and said, "who did you tell to stay in the car, Bobby?" I tried my best to get out of that one, but no such thing.

When mother first began experiencing dementia, I suppose me and others were in denial. She was still my mother and all my life, I had shared secrets with her. I remember a certain event had happened in my life and I wanted to tell her about it since she had always been my best confidant. I didn't want anyone else to know so I made her promise not to tell. As always, she concurred. I began telling mother every detail, feeling comforted that I had someone to share my intimate secrets with, my mother. It wasn't long till I had come back to mother's for a visit. We were sitting in the living room sharing when mother said to me, "If I tell you this, you can't dare tell anyone." Thinking that I was about to hear some juicy information, I promised not to tell. Mother began telling me the exact story that I had told her the week prior and had made her promise not to tell. I think this was the beginning of the end for me. I realized at that moment, that things would never be the same.

Another thing that I've noticed about mother since her dementia, is that if you tell her that someone is getting married or divorced, she can remember it. Not learning my lesson, I have shared with her several times about someone's impending marriage or divorce, thinking, she will never remember to tell this one and just as soon as you get her out in public or around someone you would never want to know certain information, she would become a stored data base. She couldn't tell you who her grandchildren married but she can remember that someone she hardly knew was soon to be wed or getting a divorce!

One of the first noises that mother began hearing due to dementia was the sound of someone tapping with a metal knife on her back door. She would tell us over and over again that "those neighbor boys were coming down here trying to scare me last night!"

One night she told of being awakened by her doorbell ringing. Of course this made the entire family uneasy because all of us have experienced the hair raising event of someone ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night and we had no way of knowing if this was a real.

Not long after that she told of someone who had come into her house and knocked on her bedroom door. She pretended to be asleep as they made their way inside. As she raised up to see who had come in, there were five young boys standing at the foot of her bed. She told that one of the boys saw that she was a good person and told the others not to hurt her and they left. Mother didn't seem to be fearful of her hallucinations, only bewildered or a little upset that these boys thought it was alright for them to come into her room without permission.

Thank you God, for watching over our good and faithful mother.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Tennants

When mother was a little girl, she had a grandmother named "Granny Let." My mother has shared many stories about she and Granny through the years and I have always enjoyed hearing them. I'm not sure how it came to be, but somehow, Granny Let and her husband lived on top of White Oak Mountain and ran a hotel that was there sometime back in the early 1900's. My mother's mom and Granny Let's daughter, Hannah Arledge Williams, died when mother was three years old. I suppose Granny must have stepped in and tried to fill that void for mother and gave her plenty of special attention. Granny would walk all the way down the mountain to get my mother and together walk back up the mountain. Mother tells of the time that Granny had bought her a bag of candy and a hole came in it and when she got to the top, she only had one or two pieces left. She would tire of walking and Granny would call her a "little booger" and assure her that it wouldn't be long until they arrived. They would sit and while resting, Granny would tell her stories about the tennants at the hotel. When Granny Let was dying, she sent for mother to come and be with her while she passed.

Last winter, mother began telling me and others that she had a tennant in her basement. She described him as a hunter with a little boy. Now, we all know that it has been proven that it's better to just go along with a Dementia patient when they start talking about things beyond comprehension. But for me, that's like telling me to wear my right shoe on my left foot. I could do it, but it just wouldn't feel right. Unless the need is great, I will argue with mother and try to make her understand that what she is seeing or thinking is crazy! I have noticed that it's easier for the men folks to go along with her ramblings than it is for the women for some reason.

One morning when I arrived, mother told me that she had been down and saw where the "hunter" had hung his clothes near the woodstove to dry. As predicted, I started in telling her that there was no such thing as a hunter in her basement and no one could possibly get in there since the door was locked. Of course, this led to a firestorm of emotions and accusations. One weekend my brother and sister were visiting and mother was telling them of the hunter, so they decided to take her down and prove to her that there had been no hunter there. This still didn't help. Later on she began saying that he had a little boy with him as well.

One night mother told that she heard the basement door open and a child's voice asking to go to the bathroom. Mother has always kept her bedroom door locked ever since the death of her late husband. She continued on that her bedroom door knob began to turn so she decided to get out of bed and go see who it was and what they wanted. When she opened the door, there stood the little boy, but he was unable to talk to her. She showed me the motions that he made with his hands. It reminded me of an umpire calling you out on base. If I ever thought that I would spend the night with mother again, this for sure sealed it for me. As I have mentioned time and time again, I am a total coward and this wasn't helping my condition. The strange thing about all this, is that mother somehow rationalized this by saying that they had probably come to rent a room and the little boy was just running up and down the hall turning doorknobs, and not thinking about waking somebody up. This activity went on for months, mother asking me on several occasions if she should call "the law" and have them to get those people out of her basement. One thing I need to say here, is that mother's hallucinations evolve. One day, she may see a hunter, the next, he would have a child, but then later it would be someone else. She also believed that her basement had bedrooms, bathrooms and basically an entire living quarters in it. Even though her seeing otherwise, she still would continue to believe what her demented mind would tell her.

I have often wondered if mother had made these characters up in her mind from years gone by. Was there a hunter who had stopped by with a little boy and she and her husband Yates had let them come in and warm by the fire. And possibly, as that little girl who was spending the night at the hotel with her Granny awakened in the middle of the night by a little child turning her doorknob? Whatever the answer is to all this confusion, mother eventually chose to let go of the hunter and little boy after months of playing their landlord.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

From the first day I began this blog, this post has been on my mind and I have some strange kind of need to share it with you.

What if? What if I will have Dementia like mother some day, or what if I already do?

Most little girls want to grow up and be just like their mother. Especially someone like my mom. I can remember how very proud I would be when friends and family members would say, "you are so much like your mother."

This is the woman who I have idolized most of my life, watching her every move, listening to her every word, thinking that one day, if lucky, I could grow up to be a woman, wife and mother just like her.

When mother was first diagnosed with Dementia, I became very self conscious of every word I would say. I remember one day when I was speaking to my daughter, I called the word "lame", "lime." I laughed and remarked that I must be like mother. As time went on, I would fear that if I misspoke one time, or forgot one thing, I too, would have the "D" word. I catch myself quite often today, asking my husband if what I just said or did was normal.

To me, Dementia is one of the worst diseases anyone could have. Once you are diagnosed, it seems to be down hill from there. I know that in recent years, they have come out with some drugs which seem to slow the memory decline, but there is no cure.

Many times I would have a need to talk about the things that mother was doing. When someone would ask, "How's your mom?" I would began telling them things they didn't want to hear. I could since their uneasiness when I would tell them that mother saw this or she heard that. There have been times when I literally found myself trying to convince people that mother indeed has Dementia. It's like they don't want to hear it or believe it. One of my favorite responses is that, "Oh, all old people do that." If I said that mother has diabetes or heart problems, they would be all ears to hear of her last doctor's visit or lab work.

It's amazing to me, how little people know and understand about Dementia, even in the health care field. My husband and I have attended several conferences on Dementia. It wasn't until we heard of Teepa Snow, a Dementia expert who trains health care professionals in Dementia, that I began to understand that the things mother did were not just something she did, but what most Dementia patients do. It was as if someone had told her what we were going through, prior to the meeting. We felt the world had been lifted off our shoulders that night, as Teepa began to role play and tell stories of Dementia patients.

My mother, as most Dementia patients do, has an ability that drives me up the wall. It's remembering just enough and just long enough to pull one over on friends and acquaintances. Mother will meet someone while we're out somewhere or maybe they'll come to visit for awhile and she is able to sustain a conversation with them for as long as 20 minutes. Immediately after they leave, she looks at me and says "Who in the "Sam hill" was that?" I have asked myself many times, "Why does this bother me, shouldn't I be glad that mother can hide her Dementia at times?" I have decided it is in some way, a feeling of betrayal. Here I have shared with friends and family, mother's disease, so they come to visit, and to their amazement, she seems perfectly normal. This predicament and many other parallels were shown to us at Teepa Snow's Dementia Conference. If you have a loved one who suffers from Dementia and you hear of Mrs. Snow being in your area, or even if you have to drive 100 miles to one of her conferences, I encourage you to do so. It will be more than worth it.

For those of you who cherish your mom's recipes, but have never written them down or she has yet to share them with you, please don't put it off, make sure you know where they are or have her to write them down now while there's still time. Dementia comes like a thief in the night. As I have said before in earlier posts, my mother was one of the most wonderful cooks I've known. Truly, one bite of her Lemon Pound Cake was like nothing I'd ever eaten. This cake stood about six inches tall, the cake bread was white, not yellow like a lot of lemon cakes, so moist it would melt in your mouth and everybody's favorite. I can remember watching her make this cake many times but never knew the exact recipe. Just recently, I started trying to recreate this phenomenon, but to no avail, I cannot. There are some recipes I have of hers, but others which I would give anything to own, are lost forever. Mother doesn't have a clue as to what she baked not to mention what she put in it. I have found myself begging and pleading with her to remember but she can't. As a daughter and someone who enjoys cooking, this has been one of the things that I regret the most. I know that there will be many more regrets as time goes on.

I love my mother with all my heart. No one could have ever asked for a more loving, kind hearted, God fearing, mother than she has been. If for some reason this fate is handed to me one day, I will never once, regret being like her.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Babysitter

I had made plans to go on a day trip out of town with my husband and knew that mother would need her medication, so I asked my daughter Hannah to go down and administer it to her. Hannah arrived around 8:00 am and Mema was sitting on the front porch as usual, anxiously awaiting who she might find at her garage door, not recognizing this shiny red car. As mother opened the door, Hannah greeted her with medicine baggy in hand. I'm sure that today was not unlike all other days and that mother went through the usual script of "What are these pills for?" and "Why can't I take them myself?"

When Hannah was a little girl and prior to her going to school or on sick days, she stayed with her Mema and step grandfather Yates, while I went to work. Hannah is the youngest of mother's grandchildren and she and Yates enjoyed watching her on these days.

I recall one day, mother called me at work laughing so hard that she couldn't get her breath. Hannah was sick that morning so I had called mother to see if she minded wathching her for a while. She agreed, so I dropped her by on my way out. Since Hannah was sick, she just layed on the couch the whole day. On usual days when she stayed at Mema's, they would go Indian rock looking, or to the nearby trash dump and come back with some special find that someone had discarded a little too early, in their words. But on this day, mother had made a cake of cornbread which was one of her specialties. Now this cornbread was just perfect and Mother said it was the prettiest one she had made in a long time. Proud of her product, she took the hot iron pan which held the cake of bread into the livingroom couch to show Hannah. As Hannah raised up from her sick bed to see what all the fuss was about, Mema lowered the pan for her to see inside. The cornbread slid right out onto Hannah's sickly body and burned her in more places than one. Mother was a self described "Medicine Woman" and she swore on many occasions that "Vitamin E" or an "Aloe plant" worked miracles on burns. So she quickly applied them to Hannah's burned skin.

I have to say, that I have taken up a lot of my mother's tendencies. For some strange reason when someone falls, throws up or meets up with some unsuspecting peril which isn't terminal, I get tickled. Apparently mother, even though she loved Hannah very much had gotten a kick out of this calamity.

As I answered the phone, mother could hardly tell me what she had done for laughing, but assured me that my daughter who I had left in her good care, would be alright.

Not long ago, I was having lunch at work when the phone rang and it was mother. This time, it was the babysitter with Dementia. It wasn't the grandmother who was taking care of her granddaughter, but intead it was a troubled woman who had lost a child that was in her care. The voice on the phone was puzzled and asking questions. "Do you have the little boy?" Not knowing what in the world she was asking, I naturally said, "What little boy?" She said, "the little boy that I've been keeping." Well, to say the least, this caused me to be very worried. I finshed up with lunch and went directly to her house. As I came upon the porch, she greeted me and we talked about usual things, wondering if she would remember calling me. Seeing that things were alright, I started to leave so I said, "mother, do you remember calling me at work about the little boy?" She said, "Jean, I don't know why I called you, I know as well as I'm sitting here that there wasn't a little boy here." Feeling releived that she realized that. I said goodbye and went home.

Around five o'clock, I received another call from mother. She was almost in tears. Apparently, she had been babysitting a little girl and she thought she had let her "slip away" as she called it. As I began assuring her that there had been no child there, I could see that she was becoming more upset, so I did what everyone has told me from the beginning, I went along with her. I promised that I was going to hang up and call the girl's mother. I had suggested that possibly the mother had come while she was napping and picked the child up. I could see that this already made mother feel better. As I hung the phone up, I called my sister in Asheville to inform her of the situation. I then called mother back and told her that I had called the girls mother, unknowing who in the world the little girl was and not to mention who her mother was. But I told mother that the woman had done like I said, and picked the little girl up while mother was napping. Mother was so releived! She said "Praise the Lord, and thank you Jesus, I just knew she had slipped off and it was about time for her mother to pick her up and I was going to be in one more tub of hot water!" She began asking me what she was called. I said what do you mean and she said "What is it that I'm called, you know someone who takes care of children?" I said, "a babysitter?" She said "No, some other word." After suggesting other words, like "Nanny," "Caregiver," etc., we never could come up with a satisfactory word to describe her new found occupation. All I know is that mother was thanking God that her babysitting job was over!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An Angry Day

For those who suffer with Dementia, change can be a little overwhelming. Just one thing out of the ordinary in their life and it will set off a landslide of emotions. I had been notified by the Pest Control,that mother would have to be out of the house no less than two hours while they sprayed. That morning, mother seemed her usual,questions and answers, a couple of interesting remarks, but nothing out of the ordinary.

I went off to work and returned around 12:10 pm. I had asked the pest control office if it would be possible for them to come at 12:00 noon so I could take mother for lunch and to buy her groceries during the two hours.

As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the pest control man heading up the drive. I continued on as he waited in his truck. Pulling in, the garage door opened to see an irate Mother. Eyes infuriated, she said "what's going on here?" You see, this was not the first time something like this had happened. Back in May during a Mother's Day gathering, it was discovered that the air conditioner wasn't working properly. We decided to call the repair man and let him take a look. That Monday, I called my cousin Judy whose husband just happens to operate a heating and air business in town. I arranged to meet someone out at mother's the next morning at a specific time. It just so happened that we arrived precisely at the same time. I have to admit, it looked a little concocted as two white looking vans drove up her driveway. If I ever imagined someone coming to "take me away" I probably would envision white vans coming. As we got out, mother slung open the garage door and said "Where are you taking me," "I'm not going anywhere!" In her mind, she thought we had made a plan to take her away. I explained to her that this was her niece's husband and he was there to fix her air conditioner. Before Dementia, mother would have recognized him as she knew him very well. After some fast talking, she seemed to understand it all and I was able to get her settled down.

So,once again Mother has imagined this same scenario of someone coming to take her away. She continued to make remarks to me and the pest control guy, so without a chance to do some last minute grooming, I got her in the car and took off. There she was, no lipstick, a huge part in the back of her hair, which we call "the great divide" clothes a little tattered and no turning back. As we traveled onto our destination, mother started her angry antics again with the poor guys out picking up garbage along side the highway. She wanted to know what in the world were these people doing, throwing out orange garbage bags everywhere. Now mother had seen these bags before and understood that it was the state picking up garbage and putting it in these bags. But today, since she was ravaged with anger, she could not understand. She said somebody needs to call the law on them and if she had a stick she'd knock them to somewhere the "sun don't shine. The next victims were two guys weedeating on the median. One was weedeating, the other had stopped and had his machine standing straight up adjusting the line. Mother turned to me and said, "You need to be more aware!" I said aware of what, she said "that man could have a hook on that pole and hooked our car!" I tried to assure her that it was just someone cutting weeds, but she wouldn't listen. Driving on, a car zoomed around us that had a Clemson Tiger's Sticker on the bumper. She started saying for me to just look what someone had put on those people's car while they weren't looking. "People will do anything for advertisement this day and time," she said.

Arriving at the restaurant, I was ready to turn around and go home and so was she. She started ranting and telling me that she wouldn't eat here if it was the last place on earth. I told her to please be quiet and try to behave. I thought that if I started talking about God and how we need to be more thankful for any kind of food we eat, it might make her realize how impossible she was being.

My mother was one of the best Christian examples a child could ever have as a role model. She taught Sunday School all her life up until her early sixties. She not only taught the Bible, she lived it. Even with her Dementia, I still see her Bible lying beside her bed where she reads every night.

When I was growing up, Mother would keep candy in the kitchen drawers adjacent from the sink. I would sometimes sneak in the kitchen and swipe a piece without her permission. One day she was washing dishes. I really wanted a piece of candy but I didn't think she'd let me have one. I decided to crawl on my stomach all the way to the drawer, reach up, pull the drawer open and get me a piece, all without her being the wiser. I made it, but just as I headed for the finish line, she began singing one of her hymns, such as "Amazing Grace" or "Wonderful Words of Life." Now, this was a clear sign that I had been busted. Not a word was said, but Oh, those convicting hymns! She knew just how to get you.

As we walked up to pay for our food, I suggested that she go into the dining room and see if there was a clean booth. On most occasions, if there isn't one, the waitresses will make sure she gets one anyway. I saw mother talking to a certain waitress that she knows. As I passed by, I heard her say "well, foot fire I don't like a table!" I went back and apologized to the waitress and ask mother to come with me. We found a table and she plopped down with disgust. Mother was critical of everything from the tea to the silverware and voiced it rather loudly. I was ready to get out of there as fast as possible. I could feel piercing eyes on my back as we sacheted out the door.

My plans were to stop and get mother's groceries while we were out in order to use up the two hours we were toldto be away. My plans suddenly changed. I began driving around to places I thought mother would be interested in. My son was moving into our area in the near future and had rented a house that mother had never seen. I drove by and pointed it out. She seemed to be a little more receptive. Again, we drove by her old in-law's home place. As we talked about old times and familiar days, mother seemed to return to the mother I once knew. The anger was gone for now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Mema, Hee Haw and Doctors

None of us enjoy going to the doctor and my mother is no exception. I must say that I could probably count on one hand, the times that she has seen a doctor in the past 5 years. As far as physical problems, mother has a bum right knee and a little high blood pressure and that is it. Now her dementia takes over where those slight imperfections leave off.

Mother's firstborn granddaughter Shelly, lives out of town. Shelly is a School teacher and has some summer months off right now. For the past month, she has traveled down once a week to spend a night and day with mother and help run errands for her. Shelly is someone who will make you happy just being around her. She has a really big smile and loves to talk. When she was little, being one of the oldest grandchildren, we would ask her to bless the food when we would have a dinner at mother's. Many a day, stomachs in unison had played a tune while Shelly thanked God for everything from "toes" to "giraffes." Shelly has a special heart for her "Mema" and the feeling is mutual.

Knowing that Mother would be needing lab work done pretty soon, I somehow got Shelly to agree to come and take her. You see, getting mother to the doctor is a feat that nobody wants. And, I might well add, that nobody wants to accompany her there either. I have my reasons for this attitude and will gladly share them with you. A few years ago, mother needed a doctor visit. I proceeded to call and make her an appointment. Mother would trick you into telling her which doctor you were taking her to then when you weren't around, she'd get the phone book and look the number up and call and cancel. Nowadays, her dementia doesn't allow her to attempt this stunt. As I have said, there are some up sides about Dementia. After prepping her for weeks, begging and pleading she finally gave in to going.

The waiting room was packed and mother didn't like that from the get go. Now mother has something inside her, coupled with Dementia that spells "entertainer." As we sat in the small crowded room, she begin to dispel the rumor of my being her "favorite child." Words began to come out of her mouth like "know it all, "She treats me like a child," "Miss Bossy, "she took my car keys" well, you get the picture. Pretty soon, she had everyone in the waiting room giggling. As the nurse called us back, I was delighted to escape this insanity as much as mother was.

Mother had been experiencing some bladder troubles. She had been hospitalized a few months prior and needed a close eye kept on specimens. The nurse took us into a small examining room and quickly called to mother to come back. She then asked her to go into another room and give her a urine specimen. I'm thinking all the time..."I don't know if that will work. Does this person not realize that mother has Dementia?" The nurse handed mother a packaged towelette to use before submitting. She took it and went into the "little room." I got up out of my chair as I sat in the examining room and waited on mother to come out. There she was, specimen in one had and in the other was the towelette, unused, still in it's package. I said "mother, you were supposed to use this before submitting!" She looked at me with a silly look and said, "well, I did use it!" Mother had used the towelette, unwrapped, sharp edges and all...OUCH!

I pretty well promised myself that the next time mother had to go to the doctor, I wouldn't be the one taking her, but it seems that broken promises are common in my life these days. Mother's regular doctor had stated that the specimen showed still some trace of infection, so he advised her to see a Urologist! I agreed, and the office set an appointment up with one who comes to our local town once a week. I won't go into the hardships of getting her to agree to see this doctor, but I can just say, it wasn't easy. After several weeks of waiting for the appointment to arrive, off we went.

As we entered the waiting room, I could only see two or three patients waiting. I thought, "Alright, this will be a snap!" To my surprise, we sat and waited for way over an hour. Finally, we were called back. The nurse was male and very nice, mother assumes that all male nurses must be gay, due to their chosen occupation. That day, was no different, the halls rung out as she "whispered" to me that "HE MUST BE GAY!" After these comments, I began to get a little apprehensive as to what mother might say to the doctor when he came in. We were left in this room for over one hour. If you have never sat in a 5'x10' room with a Dementia patient for over an hour, please don't try it. We both were becoming very frustrated to say the least. At one point mother got up from the examining table, backed up to the door and said rather loudly, "If they don't hurry up and come in, I'm going to kick this door down like a "Jackass!" I pleaded for her to return to her seat or I was walking out. Soon the doctor and nurse came in and asked me to leave the room, he explained that they needed to perform an ultrasound which the doctor called, "taking pictures" of mothers bladder.

As we were leaving the office, mother "whispered" to me that she was uneasy as to what they would do with the pictures that were taken of her while naked! Considering this event, you can see why I am reserved about accompanying mother to the doctor.

Shelly will surely have some stories to share with her children and grandchildren about her Mema for years to come after her trip to the doctor. I will really miss her when she returns to work in the Fall.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mother's Cat

Fleas! Several years ago, Mother's sister-in-law Kay had come for a visit. She was sitting outside, getting some fresh air when a cat came walking up to her. This was no ordinary cat. From tail to head, "Cat" measured about three feet long and something like 15 inches around his belly. Cat was gray in color with white boots.

To my knowledge, a search was never attempted to find the rightful owner for Cat, so from that night on, this would be mother's cat. Mother and cat became inseparable. He would sit in the window when he wasn't sitting beside her on the sofa. The basement would become Cat's night time home. Mother had a bed just at the bottom of the basement steps and Cat enjoyed sleeping there. For years, a fire would be made in the old wood stove and Cat would sleep down there during the winter months in total ecstasy. Equipped with bedding, food, water and litter box, what more would a cat need. My sister Sue did the honors of changing Cat's litter box every Saturday and replenishing his food and water dishes.

Just like Annie, mother would become to think that Cat was missing. She would bend any and everybody's ear, telling them that her cat had ran away. It was not uncommon for someone to call or see you out and ask if mother had found her cat. Many a day I would go off to work worried to death because mother had said she couldn't find her cat, just to find out later that he was there all the time. Now Cat never had a real name. Once I tried to get mother to go along with the name "Boots." But, to no avail, it never stuck.

One morning mother had a hair appointment for a permanent. Since it would take somewhere around 2 hours, I had made it for the morning hour instead of her usual appointment at 12:30 pm. As I arrived, my eyes were only on the door that mother would soon open. I said "howdy" as I usually do as she opened the door. Mother peeped around the corner and said "Is that my cat lying dead?" I glanced over and there indeed was Cat,lying just as you start down the sidewalk as if he had fallen asleep in the morning sun. We walked closer and mother stooped over and began to pick him up. After an examination, we saw that there were no injuries on Cat and just assumed that he died of "old age," since there was no way of knowing just how old he was.

This weekend, my sister Sue and husband Bill came down for their visit. Bill keeps his 4 wheeler in mother's basement so he can ride over the farm and such while they are here. While entering the basement, he began to notice little black spots on his white socks. He immediately recognized them to be fleas. We were lucky that we had just had mother's house sprayed for insects last year and was still under contract. Today, the Terminix man will come to spray the entire house.

We're not sure if the fleas came from Cat,Annie or some other unsuspecting passenger, but one thing we do know is that Cat gave a lonely widowed woman something much more than a flea.

O Brother!

Today is Tuesday and for mother, it's just another day of the week. As she greets me at the door, I hear the usual questions, "What in the world are you doing here this early?" "What are these pills for?" "How many pills am I taking?" I change the subject and inform her that Jay is coming today. Now this isn't the first time I've told her this, just the first time today. Mother says,"He is?" I thought he was working!" My brother Jay is mother's only son and second from the oldest.

During the Vietnam war, Jay was stationed in Siagon, things were getting a little heated over there and mother was worried about him as all mothers would be. She hadn't had a letter for a very long time. Each day she would call the post office and see if a letter had come in. My daddy would tell her that she was going to worry them to death! But mother persisted. The day came that she had been waiting for; good news that her son was safe and all was well.

Jay is a very hard worker, having worked some 30 years at a building supply business until the economy closed it down last year. We were all devastated by this event, but I must say, there were benefits. Jay lives about 45 minutes from mother and can't come up as much as he likes. My sister Sue lives even further away, she comes in on Saturdays and washes bedding, brings food and the like, so I'm not totally on my own with mother, sometimes it just seems like it. Since Jay had lost his job, this meant that he was free to help more, and that he did. From yard work, to doctor's appointments, he pitched in and did his part. Several months ago, he found another job. I was glad to hear the news but a little sad that his freedom would be gone. Today, he has a day off and has come to cut mother's grass.

One of mother's favorite activities is going to a little restaurant near by and eating her faithful BLT. Since we live in such a small area, I seem to know every person who eats there, so I tend to stay clear, even though mother might try to coerce me into going at times. Jay is an out-of-towner and fits the job description just right! As soon as mother hears that he is coming, she automatically thinks about lunch and if they will be going there. Today was no different. I reached for her pocketbook and counted her money to make sure she had plenty. Another habit mother has is paying for our food when we dine out.

As a child, I remember mother as a tremendous giver to everyone. Whatever was in her power to give or do for us, she did it. It was Fall of the year and the circus had come to our town, daddy was working second shift and we only had one car. This meant that we would have to miss this huge event which all our friends had talked about for months. My mother was as sad as we were, but she would not let us be disappointed long, she got on the phone and called a taxi to take us to and from the circus. I can still see the circus tents and animals as I look out the window of my workplace, for that is where it all took place some 50 years ago.

I noticed that mother was still wearing her green turtleneck from days before. Even if we're able to get her to change into something else, the next day, she'll have that same green shirt back on. I ran back to her bedroom and grabbed fresh clothes, knowing that my brother Jay would want mother dressed appropriately. You see, my brother seemed to acquire some finicky cleanliness traits from my dad. His vehicles are always washed and waxed to the max. His clothes, hair, house, lawn everything is maintained in an immaculate condition. I remember once he was up to take mother to the doctor and she had been sitting where her dog Annie likes to sit. Jay noticed a good bit of dog hair on mother so he got the vacuum cleaner out and vacuumed her down.

As I say goodbye and head off for work. I feel good knowing that Jay will be here soon and mother will get to spend some time with her son.

Monday, July 19, 2010


A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the front porch with mother. It was time for me to say goodbye and head off to work. We suddenly spied a car coming around the curve as if it was coming to the house. Now mother knows every car that passes by, but this car was different and it was traveling slow as if it was turning in. Mother says, "I believe it's turning," and I said "I believe you're right!" As we watched the tan colored car make its way up the drive, we had already decided that it was mother's sister-in-law, Kay. One would have to know Kay to understand what a fun person she is and why mother seemed so delighted. You probably know someone in your life like her, from the moment you first met, you automatically felt that you had known this person all your life. That's the way it is with Kay. She's a retired school teacher, a mother and very loving grandmother, but unfortunately lives out of town. Kay had come to visit for a couple of days. There's only a few people that mother enjoys spending time with and Kay is one of them. I must admit, this would give me a needed break for a couple of days as well.

As I said my goodbyes to Kay and mother, I could see the wheels turning in mothers head, "Where will we go to eat?" "What will we do?" "How long will she be staying?"

Later that day, I gave Kay a call and arranged to leave mother's medications in the front seat of her car the next morning on my way to work so Kay could give them to her and I would be sure not to wake them so early. As I drove up, I hurriedly jumped out and quietly opened her car door and shut it back without a peep, hopped back in my car and as I was turning, noticed the garage door slowly opening. There was mother. I called out to her to go back in the house that I was just checking on things. You see, all my life I have prided myself as a truth teller. For several years, I would tell mother everything, even though I knew it would be easier to tell a few half truths. People even told me to just make something up and tell her things and she'd never know the difference, but because I felt like I would be betraying her, I continued to tell the truth. Well, let me tell you, things have changed. I do believe that God will forgive me for some of the things I have had to come up with in the past year or so. A little ill that mother had nabbed me, but glad she obeyed and went right back in, I headed off to work. Kay and mother had a wonderful day, thrift store shopping, eating out, talking and laughing. It was a special visit.

Kay had told me that she would be leaving that afternoon around 4:00 pm, so I didn't check on mother until 6:00 pm. I called and as usual, she was on the porch. I asked what time Kay had left and she told me 4:00 pm. She proceeded to tell me about the good time they had and that she was missing her. I assured her that she would be back someday soon, said our goodbyes and hung up.

The next morning, when I arrived at mothers, she met me at the door whispering with a look on her face like a child who had seen Santa. She said in a small voice, " know I have a visitor," Well, as I've said before, I am a total chicken for scary things, and believe you me, that was pretty scary. I eventually got up my nerve and said, "Who is it?" She said still in her small voice, "Kay." I said, "Mother, you know that Kay has gone home!" Unbelieving, mother looked at me and said, "O no she's not, she's back in the bedroom asleep." Well, I had to question myself, did I inadvertently overlook Kay's car out front or did she have car trouble on her way home and someone took her car to the shop and she came back here. Through experience, better sense took hold. I decided to creep down the darkened hallway, gently open the door and take a look. As I began, mother reminded me to be quiet that I would wake her. As I opened the bedroom door, I could see the bed still made. A quietness came over me, thinking how sad mother would be to hear that Kay had gone.

God, help me to be more aware of mother's loneliness.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Coming up mother's driveway, I can see a tiny head with black hair rising up from her front porch. "Mother!" I call, "come open the door." Standing with a plate of sandwiches in one hand and a medicine baggy in the others, she finally arrives at the garage door. There she was, green turtleneck, coffee cup in hand, and eyes big as quarters as she sees the ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato sandwiches which I hurriedly threw together for her lunch.

Today is Sunday and my memory takes me back to all the delicious dinners that mother prepared for me and others almost every Sunday of my life before dementia came. Now, I know this statement is debatable, but I honestly believe that my mother was the best cook I have ever known. Holiday meals and Sunday dinner was a special time in my life. The menu would consist of her melt in your mouth pot roast, twice baked sour cream and onion potatoes, strawberry nut salad, green beans cooked to perfection, the best ever sweet tea, homemade biscuits and one of her fantastic cakes; German Chocolate, Lemon Pound, or Carrot Cake. For me to be presenting her with two measly little sandwiches for Sunday lunch was unimaginable. But, if you knew mother now, this is her style of eating. No more healthy meals, no more veggies, no more homemade anything. Her taste buds are reserved for Hershey bars, crackers and cheese, nuts, chicken salad and BLT's, with her drink of choice being a grape propel, coffee or a Pepsi.

I asked if her coffee was cool enough that she could swallow her pills. As usual, she asked, "What are all these pills for?" Then she would answer her own question with "Heart and Fart?" Then she proceeds to count them. This scenario plays out just about every morning.

Finishing up with some small chores, I ask mother if she'd like to sit for awhile. Just as I thought, she headed for the front porch. As we sat there, counting the cows and watching humming birds drink from their feeders, Annie laying at her feet, mother began to reminiscence about her father, John Williams. I had heard this one many times but I let her tell it again so we could have a laugh.

"Daddy was a tall man of some 6 feet, 4 inches, he liked to dabble in local politics and was head of the School Board. He had a bad habit of passing gas and blaming it on somebody else, usually one of the children. One night, it was colder than I could ever remember, so we let the dogs come in and lay by the fire. We heard a knock at the door and it was some of daddy's school board friends. I told them to come in and I left the room, but me and my brother Ralph listened to all that was being said in the next room. Daddy was rared back by the fire, talking big, with the dogs laying at his feet. All of a sudden he started hollering at the dogs and telling his school board friends that those dogs smelled something awful. The poor things, they were put out in freezing temperatures for something he had done!" We got a big laugh out of that and she began to tell one more.

"Me and Ralph were the only two full blooded siblings left at the house, so we kinda buddied around together. Ralph had a cow he was going to sell and I had one that I had been taking care of and called it mine. Well, daddy promised us that whichever one sold, we could keep part of the money. There was a man coming to look at both of the cows, me and Ralph hurried to the barn to milk so we could show him how much milk they gave. My cow had much bigger teats than Ralph's and gave a bucket full of milk where as his cow only gave a half bucket. Seeing this and knowing that the man would buy the one who produced the most milk,Ralph made up some fool excuse for me to run to the house to get something for him. Since he was the oldest, I obliged. When I got back, he had poured half of my bucket into his so his bucket would be full. Daddy and the man were walking into the barn and I couldn't say a word. Ralph sold his cow and daddy kept his promise and gave him the money." I had never heard that one before but we both laughed really hard.

Mother, like most dementia patients, can remember events which happened many years ago, but barely anything now. I said goodbye and laughed about her stories all the way to church and I must admit, even while the preacher preached.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Johnny and June

Like most, my mother always wanted the best for her children. As an avid music lover, she made sure that each of us were offered music lessons. Mother and daddy worked really hard and times weren't easy back in that day for sure. My mother had a beautiful soprano voice which she used in church choir, solos and the like. As she got older, I noticed she would sing in the alto section at church. I also remember some of her favorite musicians, Floyd Cramer, Lawrence Welk, Boots Randolph, Porter Wagner, Ernest Tubb, Johnny Cash and the Carter Family, to name a few. All of these and more became a big part of my life growing up.

On one occasion, Mother signed us up with a record club. We were able to select several albums a month and anxiously await their arrival in the mail. I can remember my sister and I tickled to death to get to choose our favorite record album each month. There was only one catch, the records would be last year's favorites. I remember taking a Diana Ross and the Supremes Album to my cousin's party and overhearing comments that it was old. But I didn't care, to me, music is timeless. Since mother's dementia, we can't get her to listen to music or watch TV. On a good day, we can turn her CD player on and she'll listen for awhile until she catches our back turned or we leave.

One Sunday morning I thought, I'll turn the radio on to some good Southern Gospel Music, she'll like that. So, that I did and mother did seem to like it. I walked out of the house and remembered I'd left my phone on her bar. When I came in, the radio was off and the player was unplugged.

Months later, I was awakened by my mother calling me on the phone. She seemed a little frightened but more curious than scared. She said "Jean, there's somebody in my basement playing music I can hear it coming up through the vents." Trying not to upset her any further, I assured her that there was no way anyone could be in her basement. The door was locked and an old ladder back chair hung on the knob. Well, she insisted that there was.

Months before this, mother had experienced seeing trucks parked behind her house at the basement door with men outside smoking during the middle of the night so I was confident that this was just another episode, so back to bed I went. As the days and nights passed, mother continued calling and telling other family members what she was hearing. One day she told me she thought she heard it coming from the closet.

Now everyone knows that I am a chicken when it comes to scary things. As a child, mother always made me hang out on the front porch while everyone else in the family watched Shock Theater, due to nightmares. To say the least, it took a lot for me to get up the nerve to open her bedroom closet and take a look, but that I did. Sitting on the top shelf was mother and daddy's old clock radio from our old home place. She apparently had brought it with her when she married Yates. I envisioned all kinds of theories involving ghosts, I could just imagine that old clock radio coming on at night all by itself and Johnny singing "I Walk the Line." Mother kept hearing the music for many more months. I even called the landfill which is directly above her house and through the woods, to ask if possibly a security guard or someone might be playing music up there at night, and she was hearing it. I decided I'd get specific with her one morning and ask what kind of music it was she was hearing and who was singing. She wasn't able to tell me, so I told her the next time it happened to call me, no matter what time it was. She never called but one morning she told me that it was Johnny Cash.

After trying to convince her that she wasn't hearing anything, we gave up and just let her enjoy it! Sometime later she went on to some other calamity and has never mentioned Johnny again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Annie, the Little Monster

I have a need to share with you information about the most important character in my mother's life, Annie.

When mother and Yates married, both brought with them, several old dogs to live on the farm. It wasn't long until one by one they began to die. My nephew asked my mother if she would like to have a collie puppy, seeing that they would soon be without, mother accepted and the rest is history. They named their new puppy,"Tauger" which was a childhood nickname of Yates'. Tauger grew up on the farm, helping out with the cows, guarding the property but mostly loving his masters. As years passed, Tauger became feeble. Several months after Yates passed, Tauger followed. What a sad day.

My oldest sister was a lover of all animals and had a very special heart for abandoned ones. When someone sat out a litter of puppies near her house she immediately thought of mother. These puppies seemed to be part German Shepherd and part something that looked like to me, hound. Mother named this puppy "Annie." She seemed to fill the emptiness and loneliness which had been left by the passing of Yates and Tauger.

Up until last Winter, Annie would sleep outside in an old chair on the front porch or in her doghouse on the back deck at night, but for some reason, mother began enticing Annie in at night to sleep with her in her bedroom. We began finding dog hairs and other surprises left behind on certain mornings. When asked about it, mother would vehemently deny that she allowed her in. Soon all the tricks mother could think of to get Annie in at night had come to an end. This alone, seemed to drive mother further into her dementia. To this day, mother will be talking to you and just look up suddenly and say "You know I don't have a dog!" You can imagine some of the responses we give her, not being able to hold our tongue. The first time this happened, we were standing in line at Ryans when she suddenly said, "you know my dog Annie is gone." I said, "What?" She said, "yes, she's been gone for awhile now and I don't have a dog anymore." Well, I couldn't remember seeing Annie and I guess I believed her and began to worry about her until we drove up, got out and was carrying our groceries in the house and Annie practically knocked me down coming in the house. I called to mother and said, "Mother, here's Annie" and without missing a beat, she said, "yeah, she's come to get her a treat." I said I thought you said she had gone off. She acted like she knew nothing about it.

Some nights we would have 6 to 8 calls from mother, telling us that she didn't have a dog. One night in particular, I had just sat down to watch my favorite TV show, American Idol, when the phone began to ring, it was mother. She was giggling and whispering like a little child. I said "MOTHER! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" She replied in a whisper that she had something sitting on her couch that looked similar to a little monster. I said "what color is it?" She said "well, it's black with brown spots." I said "MOTHER! THAT IS ANNIE!" She told me that she didn't know if it was part human or what. This really scared me but after all the other stories I could tell you with similar content concerning mother and Annie, I knew it was Annie. I told her to just leave her alone and let her sleep in tonight since she was already in and this seemed to please her. I immediately called my sister who lives in Asheville and she called mother and talked to her and mother told her basically the same story with a little more twists.

We have laughed over that one on many a bad day!

A Beautiful Mother

While making my way to mother's this morning, I started to think, what if I go down there and she's all better, no more dementia, and I've just started my "new blog." After all the years I've spent praying for mother, pleading with the good Lord that her dementia would go away, and here I am, thinking what if...but all thoughts diminished as I drove up and the garage door opened only to display my mother wearing her green turtleneck.

I can always tell by the look on her face if it's going to be a bad day. But, today she seemed almost normal. I'm not sure what exactly it is with her and green, but for as long as I can remember, she has favored the color green.

I often wondered was it because of all the many compliments she had received through the years about her hazel "green" eyes. My mother always took pride in her looks. Not to say she was vain, and I'm sure I'm a little bias, but I always thought of her as one of the most beautiful women in Polk County in her day.

I remember once in sixth grade, the new guy in class asked the teacher if he could bring his mother to school. Back in those days, the kids wouldn't run and hide just because their parents came to school. As Mrs. Wall entered our classroom, I thought to myself, wow she really is pretty. To be honest, she looked like she had just stepped out of a magazine. I began to have feelings that my mother was being replaced as the most beautiful mother ever. I couldn't wait to get home and ask her if she would come to school one day soon. She agreed, so I began rummaging through her closet, looking for the perfect dress and shoes. I found it! A two-piece tan suit with a leather string lace and matching brown heels. Everyone would see that my mother was still the most beautiful of all. The day finally arrived when she would visit my class. I was so proud of her that day, and she quickly regained her status as the most beautiful mom. Now as I look at the woman in the green turtleneck with disheveled hair, a slight limp due to a bad knee, blue jeans which were probably slept in the night before; I can see only a glimpse of her beauty.

She called for me to come into the house, and I did. There were things to do before I would rush off to work; lunch to prepare, a quick wipe down of the counters and a dog to feed. Mother asked that I stop and sit down to talk for awhile, which I usually do before leaving. She always asks "what do you know that's good and true?" This morning I couldn't think of a thing. We sat in silence for a few moments until I had to leave.

Thank you God for my beautiful mother!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Usually Unusual Thursday

Since I am the only sibling which lives in drop by distance, I have been chosen to deliver mother's medication to her each morning on my way to work. It's not that my sister and brother don't help out, they do, when possible. They just live hours away and naturally, I seem to be the "chosen one."

My day usually begins around 6:00 am with a shower, facebooking for five minutes, feeding the pets, grabbing mothers medication in a baggy and I'm off.

A few days ago, my youngest daughter decided she wanted to learn how to cook, she began with some simple things which entailed using a toaster oven. We forgot to tell her that this certain oven got very hot on the inside as well as the outside and to take everything which sat on top, off. Well, my mother's plastic baggies which I carry her pills in every morning just happened to be sitting on top in their prospective box. Later I found that the baggies within had all melted together and if you were lucky you just might find a good one in the bunch which hadn't been completely melted. Well, this morning I checked for holes and didn't find any so I dumped mother's meds in and off I went.

As I arrived at her mailbox, I grabbed her bulletin and continued up the drive. While pulling up to the house, I noticed her sitting on the front porch, which is a usual event. Everyone comments on her nice tan and asked if we've taken her to the beach because she's so brown. We reply that her beach is her front porch sitting from daylight to dark with the sun shining in. I actually asked her doctor once if he knew why mother had brown rings just up above her ankles, he replied to me that sometimes in the elderly who have vericose veins, their legs become oxygen deprived and creates these rings. Well mother does have some bad veins but I was a little curious of this answer. I happened to be sitting on the porch with her one day and noticed that her pants were pulled up just so and the sun shown right on that spot, thus creating this curious brown ring.

Continuing on with my story, mother rose from her chair and I rolled down the window and called to her to come in and unlock the garage door to let me in. She did as I asked and I met her at the garage door. I grabbed my plastic baggy with the meds inside, and began hearing pings and pangs of pills falling all in the car and on the cement. Unknowingly I had grabbed a baggy with a hole, spilling all of mothers daily pills. She loudly exclaimed..."I want to know why in the world I'm at this house and whose is it?" Well, this is a usual question for her, not daily but sometimes 2 to 3 times a week this routine plays out. I quickly said to her, "mother, I don't have time to to this right now!" She demanded that I stop searching for pills and turn around and give her an explanation as to whose house this is and why have we brought her there!" I ordered her to go into the house and for some reason she did as I asked. I could hear her rambling as I came in with only 3 or 4 pills salvaged.

Mother takes 5 pills in the morning and two are place in a small plastic cup with a napkin on top which reads "take at 5:00 pm." As she continued on with her ranting I interrupted her and asked if the church people had come down last night for a prayer meeting and visit. Our pastor had called me the day before and asked if it would be alright to come. I knew that mother would pitch one more fit about them coming and I would end up buying cakes and preparing coffee and such if I told her prior to them coming, so I decided not to say a word and let them show up on her doorstep. Mother quickly said, "If they came I sure wasn't here!" I assured her that they were supposed to have been here. I found out later that they had indeed came and mother was well smitten with the new church van and had joined in singing hymns from memory and the like, having a big time, only to have not remembered a single iota of the evening. Alas, this had gotten her off of "whose house is this" subject so I chose to endure this rant instead. After listening to her questions over and over about the church people who she says didn't come for awhile, I changed the subject again to it being Thursday and today was her hair appointment at 12:30 pm. Mother has a hair appointment each Thursday with the time varying at times depending on what she will have done.

I work as an administrative assistant, which is a fancy word for a "secretary" at a Baptist Association, part-time and get off each day at 12:00, so I can arrive at mothers 12:10 and be at the salon by 12:30 pm. Once you have sprang the news on her that its hair day, you will explain to her at least 7 or 8 times just when I will be here and what time her appointment is. Thursday is also clothes washing day, so hurriedly, I gathered her clothes up and put them in the washer, sit the clothes basket in the middle of the kitchen floor so she'll be sure to see it and remember to take the clothes out of the washer. Sometimes this works and sometimes not.

Before leaving, I lay out clean clothes on the kitchen chair for her to put on before my arriving, I also write on a napkin with a marker, the instructions which read, "DO NOT EAT MUCH TODAY, Jean will be here at 12:10 to take you to get your hair done and then we'll eat at Ryans Restaurant afterwards, don't forget to change your clothes, their over on the kitchen chair. I lay everything on her bar where her food is left each day, because she loves to eat and I know she will frequent this spot quiet often. With this done, off to work I go and then return back at 12:10 pm. As I pull into her drive again, she greets me at the door with her favorite green turtleneck on in 95 degree weather. I question her as to where are the clothes I laid out for her as she turns swearing and mumbling things like I'm a know it all and I need to have my butt kicked by the president or something. I found the clothes I had laid out for her in the dirty clothes closet in her room and asking why did she put them there the only explanation was that "I" must be the one with dementia.

Finally, she is redressed and we are ready to go to the salon. Since it only takes 30 minutes for her hair, it gives me a chance to run home, grab the mail and sit for 10 minutes, then I'm off again. Picking her up at the salon and on we go to Ryans. Now, mother knows all the waitresses there and if she can't get a booth on the side of the dining hall that she wants she'll run down a waitress and make them clean a booth table for us. Today, was not unusual. She gets a kick out of telling the waitress that her daughter wants some rolls and that I have to tell her everything like she's a child. I fill her a plate of salad and a plate of food and of course, I have my pianos (porkchops).

If you read my introduction, you will read why the title of my blog is "Porkchops and Pianos." But if you didn't, I will tell you now. My sister had asked mother one day, what I ate when we came to Ryans, and mother couldn't remember what I ate, so she said it looks like a piano. It in fact was a porkchop with grill marks. I love pork, so this is usually what I eat every Thursday when we come. Our meal consisted of several harsh words and many loving words. Mother has a bad habit of pointing at "supersized" people and commenting. She also has a habit of asking if anyone is in the booth behind us so she can easily expel gas. These two things usually brings about an argument, resulting in her saying that I am the biggest know it all she's ever met and that I should go to Washington and help the President run the country. All this and I am supposed to be her favorite child...!


Today is the first day of my blog. My daughter suggested me writing this blog after hearing so many stories about the daily shenanigans of me and my mom. If you're wondering why my title is "Porkchops and Pianos," this is a funny story in itself which I will speak of at times. My sister once asked my mom what food I ate when she and I patronized our favorite mother said "she didn't know what it was but it looked like a piano." It was actually porkchops with grill marks. In my mother's mind, my porkchop somehow resembled "a piano." I'd like to begin by telling you a little about my mother, whom I will refer to as Mema from time to time. Mother was the youngest daughter in a family of six siblings. Her mother died with a heart condition when my mom was only three years old. Grandma was in her early forties and six months pregnant. Her father soon remarried and mother became big sister to two other siblings. I have to say that some of the pictures I saw of my mom were pretty homely, but as years passed, she became a very beautiful woman. She married my dad when he came home from World War II and quickly began a family of three daughters and a son. I am the youngest of the four and always referred to as her baby girl. My oldest sister has just recently passed after a brave battle with lung cancer. Mother has been blessed with many grandchildren and great grandchildren of all sizes. I have always been very close to my mother and often referred to her as my hero. My dad died some twenty years ago from Kidney disease at the age of 65. My parents were married for over 40 years. After my dad's passing, my mother soon married a man in our community who just happened to be my dad's cousin and a bachelor who lived with his mom until her passing. Everyone in our family fell in love with Yates, a quiet, country farmer, including mother. They were married and mother sold her home where she lived with my dad for some 40 years and where me and my siblings had lived most of our life prior to our leaving home. The newlyweds built a new home directly across from Yates' old home place, equipped with many cows and all the things that come with farm life. Mother was the boss of the two but she didn't let Yates know it. These two shared some 16 years together on their cattle farm before Yates' passing three years ago now. Yates was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and mother quickly became his primary caregiver. Mother had spent many years prior to her marriage to Yates working in an insurance agency and various other jobs throughout her life, but never a caregiver. She found the role a little overwhelming at times, but love and commitment kept her going. I personally feel that mother began her journey with dementia sometime during his care. Bringing help into the home was not an option for her, it wasn't that they couldn't afford it, but just that mother was a very private person and wanted to do it herself. My oldest sister, my husband and myself and other family members would help at times and the rest was left up to mother. After his death, we began to notice mother's dementia...