Monday, August 30, 2010

It's Monday!

As I enter mother's kitchen, I cannot see a look on her face that warns me of calamity, until I walk over to her tablet which is used by me and other family members for the sole purpose of writing down information and instructions for her day. I can see that mother has marked out what I had written the day before, which was for Sunday. That in itself was different, as she usually leaves it alone until I come the next morning to write down the new day's information.

As I reach to turn the page on the tablet, I ask her why she had marked through yesterday's information. She replied that she was fed up with me trying to tell her what to do as if she was a child, like she wasn't old enough to know what day it was. Honestly, I could understand her line of thinking and tried to explain to her that it was just a means to help her remember what she would be doing that day since I wouldn't be there to tell her. I often wondered as I was writing each day, how I would feel if someone had to do this for me. Telling me exactly what to eat, where it was, and what I would be doing and where I would be going that day and just who might be coming to my house. One of mother's many favorite comments to me is "I don't know what in the world I did before I had you to tell me what to do!"

With displeasure of me and my writing tablet aside, she says to me, "Come sit down and I'll tell you why I knew it wasn't Sunday today." I did as she asked and sat down at the kitchen table with her. "This morning when I woke up" she told, "I heard Annie barking, and all of a sudden, I could hear a group of men making noise, who apparently were on their way to work and had took a shortcut down by my house. They were right outside my bedroom window. I don't believe they were looking in, just passing through." She continued on to say that "when I came in here and saw that tablet reading that 'Today is Sunday.' I knew it had to be "Monday," because those men were headed to work and most people don't work on Sunday."

There have been other times when mother has thought that people were outside her bedroom window. We have heard stories of someone kicking the basement door or banging on the door with something in their hand, in an attempt to enter. She also has seen pick up trucks, men and women standing outside in a group, smoking and talking as if they had met there for a gathering or something.

This morning wasn't the worse morning mother has was just a "Monday" morning.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mother's Folly and My Dolly!

Today is a Saturday, and as usual, I am in a hurry when arriving at mothers. First of all, I know that my sister Sue will be coming today and I will be relieved of most of the daily duties that I usually do for mother. It's somewhat later than most mornings due to the fact that I don't have to work today and I have slept in.

The first thing I notice is that Annie, mother's dog, is not outside. If you've been reading my posts, you'll remember that mother puts Annie, or some creature which Annie happens to be masquerading as, in every night so she doesn't have to hear her barking and wonder what or who she's barking at as well as taking the chance of waking up the "old woman" that mother declares lives just up on the bank and is a dog thief."

I began to knock on the side door and see through the window that all the lights are off and the kitchen is quiet and still. I began to call, "M-o-t-h-e-r!" Finally, she hollers, "who is it?" I say, "It's me, Jean!" "C-o-m-i-n-g" she calls back. Opening the door, Annie is at her side. The first thing she says to me is "Well, what in the world are you doing down here this time of the night?" I said "Mother, it's not night time, its morning!" Turning the light on, she squints her eyes to see the time on the microwave, seeing that it's 7:40. She turns and says, "see there, it's something to eight, I think you're the one that's confused!" I try changing the subject by telling her that her daughter Sue, and husband Bill will be coming today and she had better take her pills and get herself organized. Nothing doing! Mother keeps asking me, "why are they coming at night?" I tell her over and over again that it's Saturday morning. She eventually succumbs to the notion of it being morning and tells me that "if I'm lying to her that she's going to take the biggest hickory she can find and give me a whipping!"

I can remember another time as a child when I heard these same words. It was summertime and when you're 10 years old, you think that you can get away with most anything. My sister Sue and I had begged and begged mother and daddy for a pony. After many months of good behavior and agonizing pleads, they finally agreed to buy us one. Her name was "Dolly." Dolly was Palameno colored. We never had a saddle, so all of our riding days were "bareback."

It was unusually hot and my sister and I were craving some candy and soda. Being that we lived pretty far out in the country, there were no stores around. Well, mother worked at a small sock mill, just about 2 miles down the road and located just near the closest store to our house. I had heard her tell my daddy many times how cramped up she felt after being inside all day working so I knew that there was no way she could find out if I decided to go through with this adventure. Mother had warned us many times of the consequences if we ventured out on our "Dolly" while she was at work, let alone ride her 2 miles!

With a candy bar and a Nehi drink on my mind, off Dolly and I went. Unfortunately and unknowing to me, a co-worker of mothers had driven down to this same little store to get a snack for lunch and had seen a little girl and a pony tied outside the store that looked much like "Margie's girl, Jean." When arriving back home, I was greeted with a message saying that mother had called from work asking if I had ridden my pony down to the store. She had given instructions that when she got home, "I was going to get a whipping with the biggest hickory she could find!"

As I leave mother's house, I keep telling her that it is indeed morning time. I remind her that I am a grown-up woman now, and that I wouldn't lie to her about the time of day!

I received many whippings from mother as a child, but I assure you, I deserved every one of them!

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Old Man and His Daughter

Mother was always faithful when it came to Church attendance. You could always find her at Sunday School and preaching services on any given Sunday. I've mentioned before that she was a Sunday School Teacher, Deacon's wife and choir member most of her adult life.

We had some newcomers to come join at our church one Sunday and for some reason mother took a liken to them and they to her. The woman, Joan, was somewhere in the age range of her forties while her husband Kenneth, was some eight years older. This couple sat directly in front of mother most Sundays. They started talking and began a close friendship.

Several years ago, mother had some major surgery done. At this time, dementia had not yet reared it's ugly head. This statement alone would cause some discussion in our family. As we entered the waiting area in the hospital, there sat the Jolley's, Kenneth and Joan. Always there to comfort, visit or call,they were a permanent presence in mother's life from then on out. Kenneth enjoyed turkey hunting when the season came around and mother's farm was well furnished with these "Thanksgiving birds." Mother gave Kenneth permission to hunt on her property, which was a compliment in itself, as mother has a very strong attachment to all of her animal friends. Her exact orders were, "You can only kill one!"

Time went on and mother's dementia took over most of her life so she had to stop attending church. This did not deter Kenneth. He would call and check on mother every week and to this day, still does.

One day, Kenneth was off from work, so he and Joan decided they would come for a visit. Later that evening, I called to check on mother and asked if anyone had come to visit. She replied, "Yes, an old man and his daughter that live down near the edge of the pasture." I said, "mother, there's not anybody like that living near you." We argued back and forth for awhile, so I asked her to describe them. She told me that he was just an "old man," and his daughter was with him but she didn't think she was married. She said she didn't know their names and she sure didn't think much of that old man coming to see her and bringing his daughter. While quizzing her, she gave up one piece of information that sounded familiar. Kenneth, has always teased me about being older than him. Whether that's the truth, I don't know. But, mother told me that the "old man" said to be sure and tell his "big sister" hey. Well, this is what Kenneth had always referred to me as, so now I knew who the mystery visitors were. It didn't take me long to dial up the Jolleys and inform Kenneth that mother thought he was an old man who had come to court her and had brought his unmarried daughter along.

Another instance concerning an "old man and his daughter happened about a year ago. It was a very cold night and mother was trying to get her dog Annie into the house for the night. As she opened the back door and began calling Annie, a little girl stuck her head around the corner of the house and said "just what dog are you looking for?" Mother told us that the little girl's daddy was an old man and stood up on the bank watching. She was upset because she said "it was none of their business which dog she was looking for." She couldn't get over the fact that neighbors would come down there in the middle of the night and it as cold as it was, nosing in her business!

It's very interesting to me, the characters that mother comes up with in her hallucinations. I have to say though, out of all of them, the "old man and his daughter" have tickled me the most as now I can be the one to tease Kenneth about who's the oldest! I truly thank God for people like the Jolley's who have remained close and faithful friends to mother in spite of it all!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dog Thief!

As I knocked on mother's door, I could see that the kitchen light was off, coffee unmade and the kitchen chair standing propped against the doorknob. Annie was outside running around as usual, but not a peep from mother. Calling, and knocking, I could hear no reply. Just as I decided to head around to the front door to ring the doorbell, I heard a faint, "coming," from somewhere inside.

Last September, I recall the morning I came down to give mother her pills and something very similar with a different ending happened. I had knocked and knocked, called and called, but never an answer. I had made my way around to ring the doorbell but still no answer. I knew very well where the key to the front door was, but I could not bring myself to enter, fearing just what I might find. I hurried back to the car, got my cell phone and called mother's nephew Kenneth who lives just up the road to come assist me. When he arrived, he entered in and called to mother, still, no answer. I was helpless as I stood on the front porch and prayed. At last I could hear Kenneth talking to "Aunt Margie." I made my way back to her bedroom and found a near unresponsive mother lying on the bed, still in her nightgown. The EMS was summoned and she was taken to the hospital. It was found that she had a really bad urinary tract infection which landed her in the hospital for several days.

Today, I wait for her to open the door. I can see her hair and clothes are very unruly and think that she is going to have an interesting story to tell. "What were you doing?" I asked. "That 'old woman' was after my dogs again last night and I had to stay up most of the night making sure she didn't steal my last one." "She was turning her light on and off, telling me that she was up there and waiting to get my dogs." Trying to reassure her that she only has "one" dog and there was no "old woman" living near her, she became agitated to the point that I knew I just needed to listen and go along with her.

For some months now, mother thinks that there is an old woman who lives just up in the woods near her house who has been stealing her dogs, until she is just down to one. Mother says she has cages all around her house and her prized one is up there now, which as she tells it, has red and green on the back of it's neck. I like to refer to this one as the "Christmas dog." The whole family has sat tirelessly as mother tells of this old woman taking her dogs. She has asked time after time if she should call the police on her and I just reply that if she did the old woman might retaliate and poison one of her "imaginary" dogs or God forbid, cows! This seems to satisfy her and so far, she has not made a call to our local law enforcement concerning this "dog thief."

Mother spies her dog Annie frolicking on the back deck and says, "That Annie is having one more time out there!" No more than she has said this, she is asking me "whose dog is that?" I tell her it's Annie and she says "does she have mud on her?" I take a look out the kitchen window to see if Annie has possibly been rolling in the mud, but as I thought, she was as clean as a whistle, sitting there digging a flea. I said mother, Annie is brown and black and you can just see mostly brown since she's scratching. Still, mother will not believe that this is her dog Annie.

Knowing that eventually mother will forget all about last night's folly, and soon come to realize that the dog hanging around her house is indeed Annie, I head on off to work. I think to myself about how comfortable I am becoming with mother's actions. This realization in itself is very unsettling to me.

Friday, August 20, 2010


In a rush to get out the door, I grabbed a baggy and dropped mother's medication in it for the day. Just as I walk passed the telephone, it rings and mother is on the other end. I have to say, this is the first time mother has actually called me this early in the morning. It's usually sometime during the day or late at night.

"What are you doing?" she asks. "Getting ready to come down to your house, why?" I answer. "Well, I want to know who in the world has dropped me off at this house!" she replies angrily. This whole picture is getting clearer and this isn't the first time this event has happened, so I sorta knew where all this was going.

This time, mother had not been to the "Lake House," as in previous posts, but she had been "sleepwalking" and someone had found her on the road, picked her up and brought her back to this house, so she thinks.

Once I had received a phone call from her, asking me "how in the world did she get up to this 'hole' in Saluda?" Another time, she had supposedly been walking on the road and someone came along and took her to a house where a little old lady lived. Mother had been invited in to spend the night with this woman who she had never laid eyes on before, then when morning came, someone had brought her back home. In reality, mother had not been anywhere but asleep.

Another trait of Dementia is a "deceiver." I have tried to discuss this with mother and assure her that she has not actually been "sleepwalking" but "dreaming." As usual, she will not be convinced and only agitated at the thought that I think she's crazy.

Many of mother's dementia events have to do with her or someone being lost. She has always had a heart for helping those who were lost; spiritually or physically.

I recall an occasion when I still lived at home. Mother was busy cooking a meal for a Saturday family gathering when a knock came to our door. It was a lady who was looking for a pretty well to do housing development approximately some 10 miles from where we lived. I was familiar with this elite place, only because my sister and I sold Girl Scout cookies there years before this. Mother had asked the lady all the information she needed to know in order to look the people up in the book, give them a call and have them give her instructions to their house so she could direct this poor lost lady. Even though mother was overwhelmed with the chore of baking, she gladly obliged this lost soul. I could hear mother telling her that she would stay on the phone with the person at the intended destination till she arrived, so she would know that she had made it safely. Mother must have stood there on the phone for ten minutes talking to someone she had never met. I suddenly saw a smile flash over mother's face as she could hear in the background of the phone, the two women greeting each other, reassuring mother that she had given the right instructions. The woman came back to the phone and hung up without one kind word of "thank you" or "what a good neighbor you have been." Not that mother wanted that, but I could see in her eyes, the hurt of being dismissed without a mere word of appreciation.

As I arrive at mother's house, she is waiting for me, standing in front of her garage, anxiously awaiting an explanation for her trip.

Not long ago, she had greeted me in front of the garage carrying her pocketbook. She had been sitting on the front porch since sometime early in the morning, thinking that she had been dropped off at someone else's house, and nothing she could see looked familiar. I had to take her inside and tell her stories of people and things that had happened in her house so that she would believe it was really her home.

This morning, I was able to convince her that she had not sleepwalked anywhere, but that she had been a victim of an overactive dream. She remarked that "she sure was glad that it was a dream, cause she didn't know what she would have fed all those people who were in her house when she got back home."

As I head off to work, I think about the good person that mother used to be.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Strange Bedfellows!

It's about 8:00 pm on a Saturday night. Having done the usual chores which a Saturday can bring, Oh how I had longed for my comfy old recliner for most of the day.

My husband and I had been talking about a movie we wanted to watch for a couple of days now and had decided to put if off until a Saturday night. With the remote in hand, we ordered our movie and began to watch. With approximately 30 minutes remaining, the phone begins to ring. While reaching for the phone, I can see it's mother. We are well aware that anywhere from 8:30 til 9:00 pm is mother's bedtime, so if she's calling at this time, we know there's a problem.

As I answered, there was a quiet little voice on the phone saying, "Jean, I've done something sorta dumb and I don't know what to do about it. I said "what have you done?" In a giddy voice, mother began to tell that she saw something that appeared to be "half human" and she considered it to be safe to let in the house so she let it in. "As I was climbing into bed," she said, "I pulled back the covers and there was something that had hands that looked like paws." Without another word, I told her that we were on our way. With movie on pause, off we went.

As we turned in, it appeared that every light inside and outside the house was on. She opened the garage door and came out with a look on her face as if she had done something she shouldn't have. I said "mother, what in the world did you say was in your bed?" She said "get in here and see for yourself." Well, my husband isn't afraid of anything and seems to enjoy mother's adventures as much as a thrilling amusement ride. As he made his way down the hall, I could hear mother's cautioning words, "be careful Bobby, it might hurt you!" Now, I'm no idiot, even though I knew that mother was hallucinating again, I am still not convinced that there might be scary things hanging out in her house at night, so I chose to stay close by the entrance to the kitchen door. I suddenly heard mother say, "Well, Bobby, where in the world did it go?" This gave me the cue to go in. I immediately started to tell mother that the "half human" creature was actually her dog "Annie." If I had to count on my hands and toes how many times mother has seen Annie as a different entity, I would be using one of your hands as well. I'm not sure what it is about this dog, but in mother's eyes, Annie has become anything from a monster, to a child, to a sheep, to all kinds of different colored dogs of all shapes and sizes, to now, "a half human, with paws."

Mother was still not convinced that this half human beast was not still lurking in her house. She made her way into her bedroom's bathroom, opening all doors including the shower door. Not being able to satisfy her mind, she searched each bedroom and the remainder of her house. Every word I said to her, would fall on deaf ears. She didn't want to hear one word I had to say, "she was fed up with me not believing her," she rambled.

Most mother-in-law's seem to have quirks where their son-in-law's are concerned, but not my mother. She loves my husband Bob, and my sister's husband Bill as if they were hers. I was quickly reminded as to why that is. Trying to convince mother that there really wasn't a "half human" creature in her bed was not getting very far, so I attempted to enlist Bob. I don't know why he won't speak up and just tell her how it is, but for some unknown reason, he just sits there and changes the subject when I say, "isn't that right Bobby?" Well, mother loves this and before you know it, I'm the culprit. Tonight was no different. Mother relished in the fact that she was right and I was wrong, partly because my husband wasn't saying anything contrary. I could see that this conversation was going nowhere and I was tired and had a need to finish my movie which awaited us back home. Mother seemed pretty well satisfied now that this half human "thing" had gone from her house, so we left and made her promise to get in bed.

The next morning as I made my way down to mothers, I couldn't help but wonder if she would remember anything from last night. Entering the house and going about my usual morning chores, I knew that all was forgotten, pretty well assured that mother's closets and beds, would hold many more strangers before it was all said and done!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Letter

Yesterday evening was grass cutting time at mother's. It was my husband's time to mow, so we drove on down and began our duties. As he began mowing, the lawnmower had a weird feel to it. Eventually, the troublemaker showed it's ugly head, the steering drag link broke. With a faithful attempt to finish by rigging the link every few seconds, mother and I sat on the porch wondering when the next fix would be the last.

Mother can get pretty worrisome when something around her place tears up. As I sat there listening to her fears of how would we go about getting the mower repaired and who would we get to do the honors, I became a little rattled. If you've ever listened to a person with dementia talk, you can soon lose your thought process and quickly become unnerved. I tried my best to assure mother that my husband would order the part and fix the mower himself. This seemed to comfort her and we left.

This evening, we returned. With new part in hand, and a readiness to repair the mower, my husband began his work. Mother greeted us and had forgotten all about the mower breaking, not to mention that we had even been there cutting grass the evening prior.

She and I agreed that it was just too hot for porch sitting, so we meandered to the living room for a quick chat. Mother began talking about the people who worked on her daddy's farm when she was a little girl on Skyuka road in Columbus, North Carolina and how hot it was in some of those summer days while they worked the field. She recalled a couple who lived in a cottage called the "Carruth Cabin," which her daddy kept for his fieldworkers somewhere behind her home place. Their names were Hugh and Leler (Lela) Davis. Back in those days, most of the time, the people would pronounce someone's name which ended in an "a" with an "er." I refer to this as "country vernacular."

Mother's stepmother's name was "Normer" (Norma) and tonight she wanted to talk about her. Mother's daddy married his second bride, "Normer" when mother was around five years old. "Normer" was really the only mother she ever knew. When she was about ten years old, she and her family traveled to Lake Toxaway to visit "Normer's" kin folk. As soon as they arrived, mother spied a handsome young boy around 3 years her senior. "He was the cutest thing she had ever laid eyes on, and his name was Willy Aiken" she told. Ever so often, Willy's family would either come to visit them on Skyuka road or they would travel up there. Either way, mother remained sweethearts with Willy throughout the years. When Willy became old enough to enlist, he did just that. Mother said goodbye to her first love and vowed to wait for him.

It wasn't long until her affections were aimed at another young man, my father, Bryson Gibson. Mother had not forgotten her first love Willy, but was lonely and as a maturing young woman, thought that time was passing her by. So when she was a ripe old age of one month shy of being eighteen, she agreed to marry my dad. Now my dad was a serviceman as well, but he had already finished his duty and was ready to settle down with a beautiful bride.

The day had arrived when mother and daddy were to be married. Willy had a first cousin named "Allenby" who had been writing letters to him and filling him in on all the heartbreaking news of the pending marriage. On the very day that mother was to wed daddy a letter came in the mail. Mother's stepmom, Normer placed the letter on the mantel and never said a word until mother started to walk out the door on her way to marry. Just like in the movies, as the door slammed shut, Normer remembered the letter and ran out to give it to her. Mother met her half way and tore open the envelope. As she walked to the car, she read the words of a man who was losing his first love to another man. "I hope this letter is not to late, please what ever you do, don't marry Bryson!" the letter read, "wait for me, it won't be long now, 'til we can be together again." Mother's eyes swelled with tears as she placed the letter in her purse, only to tell Bryson that she was a little homesick.

Judge Davenport of Spartanburg, SC, did the honors as Bryson Gibson and Margie Williams were wed on Nov. 28th, 1946.

It just so happens that my daughter-in-law is related someway to Willy's family. I have questioned them before to see if he is living. They had told me of his first wife passing and he remarried but I can't for the life of me remember if he is alive today. Whatever his plight, my mother Margie will always be, his first love.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mama's Baby

Growing up as the "baby" of the family; I have always thought this to be a blessing. Being "mama's baby" meant pretty much getting away with most everything around the house. Although, with this title, came many connotations: hand-me-down clothing, last piece of anything, smallest voice at the dinner table, and you get the picture!

I have always prided myself as being a loving, caring, basically "good girl" for my parents. Through the years, I have been the recipient of many gifts, shopping trips, food, clothing, vacations, vehicles, you name it, mother has always been a generous giver and especially to those she loved. Somehow, I was located near the top of her "receiver list."

I have always considered my relationship with mother as pretty much close to the top of my list as well, second only to that of my husband and children.

When I got married, my husband and I lived away for many years, but eventually we worked our way back to North Carolina and in the arms of my mother and family. She and I spent many years, enjoying the ties that bind a mother and daughter who just happen to live near by. From grocery shopping to attending church together, we were pretty much inseparable. Not that she didn't love my siblings as much, she did, it was just that I lived the closest and seemed to be readily available.

I can remember the days when people I didn't even know would see me out and come up to me and comment "Why, you must be Margie's girl Jean, she's always talking about what a wonderful daughter you are!"

This privileged relationship with my mother went on throughout most of my adult life, right up until about two years ago. You see, it all started going downhill when my siblings and I decided mother didn't need to drive any longer.

My mother has always prided herself as being an independent woman. For her to ask someone to take her somewhere or do something for her, would have been out of the realm of normalcy for her prior to her dementia.

One day, we were sitting on the front porch and the conversation some how worked around to driving. One thing led to another and I felt the impulse of talking to her about not driving anymore. I went on to say that with dementia, she could get out and forget where she was and get lost, or perhaps make a bad judgment in turning and hit a car with a child in it. I then asked if she would relent all of her known car keys. As soon as it came out of my mouth, she jumped up, went into the house and came back with all three sets of keys. I couldn't believe how easy it was.

As days passed, I began to feel quite proud of myself for being the one who had got mother to relinquish her driving privileges. Boy oh boy was that a mistake. I should have known that as soon as mother was up one day, she would be down the next. From that day on, I became the enemy to any and everybody who chose to listen. And to even some that didn't care to. It came to the point to where I had to write a note and leave it in her car so when she went out to get in, she'd remember that she didn't have car keys. The note read something like this: "Mother, you gave me your car keys, so you can't drive anymore, Love Jean." This note soon became a noose around my neck! I would receive phone call after phone call of rantings and ravings of her reading that note in a childish, fiendish voice. Everyone that she would come in contact with would laugh and say, "Why did you take your mother's car keys away from her, Jean?" To this day, I am still reminded of this curse.

As I mentioned in an earlier post,Teepa Snow, world renown Dementia expert,
had warned of being a moving target if you happened to be the primary caregiver and represented the "boss" position in a dementia patient's life. In mother's eyes, nowadays, I am the bossiest boss there ever could be. "Miss Bossy" just happens to be her favorite name for me. Many days as I am leaving her house, I can hear those very words ringing in my ear.

That beautiful mother, daughter relationship which was so very special and well guarded all of my life, has now been tarnished in my mother's eyes. I do still feel her love for me at times but it will never be the proud, beaming love that I held so dear and near. Dementia is not only a thief of ones memories, but also a destroyer of relationships. I will always love my mother for the beautiful, giving and loving person she has been to me and others. I will be there for her 'til the end.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Funny Farm

Coming up mother's driveway, fresh dew can be easily seen all over the pasture and lawn. The cows are eating from the hay which was put out the day before. Everything is quiet and at rest.

Mother rises from the porch and comes to open the garage door. I can tell when I see her face that it's not good. A foolish grin flashes me as her finger covers her mouth. "Shh...Kay's in the bed," she says. Well, this is a routine thing with mother, thinking that her sister-in-law has come to visit. I knew that Kay wasn't asleep in mother's bed for more reasons than one, so I went on in and proceeded to hand out pills and instructions for the day. Mother, not wanting to hear one word I had to say until she checked out each bedroom to see if I had told her the truth about no one being there. One by one she quietly opened the doors, revealing the truth that Kay was not there. She stopped and sat at the table, swallowing her pills and insisting that someone had been there but had left before I arrived.

Since today was "hair day" and "eating out day," I didn't have to prepare food, so there was time to sit on the porch until I had to leave for work. As most of you know,there's just something about the country life, fresh air, birds and animals of every kind, laid back atmosphere; the life that most of us dream of. I must say, mother has lived a very charmed life on her farm since she and Yates built their home and moved here. When Yates passed, mother begin telling of strange events that she has witnessed on her farm.

One day at work, I received a call from her telling me that there were lions crossing the bottom field. Another day, there were animals that looked like zebras with big tails. Thinking that this must be white-tailed deer or the like, we sorta chuckled and dismissed it. I recall a day on mother's porch when all you could see were crows flying over her pasture. As they flew over, like most crows will do, they would make their caw sound. Mother asked in a very subtle voice; "what's the name of that bird making that crow noise?"

Later on, mother began telling that she was seeing mountain climbers, "propelling" off the mountain in front of her house. She told that they had headquarters just up the road and must be stationed there. This went on for years as she summoned the police to her house on several occasions, stating that there were people on her property at night with lanterns and mysterious lights. She would always say that the mountain climbers were a man and a woman. How she could know this was a mystery in itself. She stated that she could hear things that they were saying while climbing down. Now, I have told of mother's sonic hearing in earlier posts, but even mother would be hard pushed to hear what mountain climbers were saying at pitch dark and 30 miles away. One night, she told us that her living room lamp was helping them know which direction to go. When she turned the light off, they would begin to climb back up, if she turned the light back on, they would start back down.

One day she told me that an airplane had landed in her pasture. Mother didn't seem bothered by the fact that an airplane had landed in her pasture which had it's share of hills and bumps, instead, she was upset that she didn't receive even a "thank you" card in the mail the following weeks and months from the pilot and his female student pilot.

Another familiar story on this funny farm is the tale of the mountain directly in front of mother's house. The story goes that one day mother's late husband Yates and a bunch of old men were sitting in the yard and looked up on the mountain. Being just a "bunch of old dirty men" mother would say, they decided the mountain looked like a woman, lying on her stomach with her butt up in the air.

I'm sure Chevy Chase has nothing over on my mother's farm; the funniest farm!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"On My Honor, I will try ..."

As I entered the kitchen, I was greeted with an interesting sight of dark brown eyebrows drawn on my mother's face. Now mother has always enjoyed wearing make up, and I have to say, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree on that one for sure. For whatever reason, mother has been thinking she's either going somewhere or she's just getting back from there for the past couple of days. On any given day, you can check her index finger and down under the nail will be bright red lipstick where she has stuck her finger in the tube to grasp the last smidgen. It just so happened that last week, I caught a glimpse of my finger when I was putting my glasses on and saw something I thought to be "blood." As I looked closely, I remembered that I had done the very same thing with my lipstick and was unknowingly carrying around a trace of vanity for everyone to see. This alone was enough to make me run to the store and buy a brand new tube of lipstick!

As I walked passed the coffee pot, I noticed that mother had not made her usual morning coffee, instead, there sat a cup of old coffee in the coffee maker where the pot goes. I asked "why did you do that mother?" She replied that she had used up all her coffee and thought she'd just drink the old. Knowing that she had plenty, I opened the drawer that she always keeps her packets in and showed her differently. Mother had sat the cup on the coffee pot burner, in an attempt to heat it. I have to admit, for someone who thought they were out of coffee and needed to heat a cup up, that was a pretty clever thing to do, even though the microwave sat within inches of the pot.

I had been remarking to my sister over the past few days, that other than memory loss, mother was doing pretty well. From past experience, I should have seen this one coming. Even though mother wasn't wearing her green turtleneck or hadn't particularly been flashing me with a foolish grin lately, I should have known that something was awry after witnessing her morning calamities.

My husband has a habit of driving around on any given evening that he's home and has some free time, and taking pictures of wildlife. You can also witness me, sitting in the passenger side taking a nap or just resting my eyes as I like to call it. This evening, we were making our rounds, snapping pictures of white tail deer grazing in a far away meadow, thinking that all was well with the world when my cell phone began to ring. As I picked up the phone, I noticed it said "home." Now as a rule, our evening will usually go uninterrupted. This time, it was a call, from my daughter at home, telling me that "Mema" had called and couldn't find a little girl. She had been searching for her frantically. I quickly informed my husband that we needed to leave and head on back to mother's house.

As we pulled into her drive, mother's dog Annie was running in and out of the woods, up and down the bank as if she was sniffing a rabbit or something. Mother greeted us with a peek into the car. Looking at her son-in-law with his nature's hat abounding, she asked if she could help us. I leaned over and said "Mother, it's me!" She at once recognized her new visitors. "I am in trouble!" she said, "what am I going to do?" "Jean, I promise I didn't petition these girl scouts to come here, I don't know where in the world that child disappeared to." We began to reassure her that she had done nothing wrong and softly escorted her to the front porch so she could tell us the entire story. As she began to tell of the recent events, you could see the fear on her face. Perhaps that of a mother who had lost her child. If you've read my earlier posts, you'll remember a similar event, but that of a little boy. Mother continued on with her folly, saying that she felt uneasy about the Girl Scouts coming here and leaving this girl behind. She said this 12 year old girl had just appeared at her door, uniform and all, so she had sat and talked to her for some time until she decided to come into the house to call a lady who she thought was the scout leader and see if she would come pick her up. As she looked for the lady's phone number, she came out to check on the girl and she was gone. "No car, no nothing had been to her house, it was as if she vanished into thin air," she explained. As I sat there looking at mother, I couldn't help but wonder if maybe that little girl scout might have been me or my sister Sue as a 12 year old.

The Girl Scouts had played a huge part in my life as well as my sister's. From Brownies, to Cadets, we spent most of our younger years as scouts.
Another scenario I considered; was the little girl that mother had lost possibly Annie, the dog who was eluding mother as a usual event about nightfall from coming into the house and she thought she had been a little girl who decided to leave without telling. Whatever the rhyme or reason, mother was once again in the presence of children. If you will notice, many of mother's hallucinations deal with children. I console my thoughts, just knowing that children are one of the closest things to being in the presence of an angel. Mother has been the most wonderful, mom, grandmother and great grandmother that anyone could have ever had.

This morning, I arrived at mothers, wondering what she would say about the events of the previous evening. As I suspected, she didn't remember a single detail.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Lake House

How many of us wouldn't like to own a lake house? Sitting down at the kitchen table with mom this morning, she began to talk about her "lake house." So many times over the past several years, mother has met me at the door, ranting and raving about the night she had spent at "her" lake house. She believes with all her heart that she has become the owner of this house and someone keeps taking her there and bringing her back. On most occasions, the story would go that someone had come, took her there and brought her back, just before sunrise. This morning, she told the event as a dream. As she recalled, she had spent most of the night at her lake house then a good friend had brought her home. This time a "sheep" had been found lying in her bed when she returned! I must admit, this tickled me good and I even saw mother crack a couple of smiles and she told of such foolishness.

The only thing that I've come up with as a purpose for this confusion, dates all the way back to her childhood. Mother's father, John Williams, had many brothers and sisters. One of Grandpa's brother's was named "Burton." As I have mentioned, most dementia patients have a gridlock memory of years gone by and mother is no exception. Mother enjoys telling stories of her childhood, and I must say, I love hearing them because she has a way of making everything she tells as if you're reading a best seller.

Mother told me that her Uncle Burt, was once "overseer" or "Game Warden" of Lake Adger back in the 1930's. Uncle Burt and his family lived in the house at the entrance to the Lake which still stands. She and her daddy would go visit Uncle Burt and his family on many occasions at the lake. Many times, mother would reminisce of the days when she would ride in the paddle boat with her daddy and Uncle Burt and play tirelessly with her cousins at the lake house. She told that she could feel the sushine bouncing off the lake onto her face, even as she told the story. I too, imagined this scene as I had been a teen who spent many days boating and playing on Lake Adger with my sweetheart and future husband.

Uncle Burt's daughters were Nellie and Jeanette. How unusual it is to hear mother tell about childhood playmates and first cousins; Nellie and Jeanette. I have come to know Nell and Jeanette by another name, "Mary and Martha". As I have told in earlier posts, I work in a Baptist Association of churches. Nell "Williams" Bennett and Jeanette "Williams" Smith are known to me as Lazarus' sisters in the Bible, Mary and Martha." You see, Nell and Jeanette are sisters in their mid and late 80's now, and belong to one of the churches in my association. It is unbelievable to me how anybody of this age can work so diligently for the Lord! They are sisters, serving the Lord with a great love and passion; thus the names "Mary and Martha."

As I continue listening to mother's tale this morning, I feel content in knowing that even though she is in "another" day and time, somehow, she is happy there. Who was I to remind her that she doesn't own a lake house? Who was I to tell her that she hasn't been to the lake house, laughing and playing til the sun went down with friends and family? Who was I to tell her that her childhood friends are no longer there, but instead living in their own reality.

I say my goodbyes to mother as I leave for the morning. With coffee cup in hand and donut in the other, she seems elated for having spent the night at the lake house with her playmates on Lake Adger.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Giver

I touched on the fact that my mother is such a huge giver in an earlier post, but because this is and has been such an ever present trait of hers, I felt the need to expand on it.

For as long as I can remember, mother has had a heart as big as Texas for someone who was down on their luck or maybe didn't have as much as she thought they should, especially when it came to her children.

When I first got married, my husband and I lived away at college. Had it not been for my parents and my husband's parents, we probably would have starved. As time went on and grandchildren entered the picture, there was never a time when mother wasn't giving our kids all the things that mother thought they were missing out on. Not only my children, but all her children. From food, to clothes, to any and everything that she and my dad could possibly afford to do for us, they would.

Now, when it comes to money, mother is pretty well spot on. Last week, my niece Shelly came down to help out with errands and the like. I had asked her to take mother to the bank. As they pulled through the drive thru, my niece noticed that she didn't recognize the bank teller. As she requested her banking needs, the teller asked for mother's identification. Being that mother has had to relinquish basically all forms of ID, Shelly was fearful that she didn't have anything. Mother began to dig through her pocketbook, unsure as to just what she was looking for. When the teller left to go up front, mother began to follow her usual routine and started showing her strife about the situation. Mother shouted out that she ought to come in there and kick their butt, it was her money and she ought to be able to get it when she wanted it. Finally, mother was able to locate her drivers license, even though she isn't allowed to drive anymore. As the teller returned, she eagerly informed them to never mind the ID, and that everything was in order. Shelly mentioned later that she was curious as to whether the microphone at the window had been left on the whole time and the entire bank was able to hear Mema's rantings. As they exited the drive thru, I'm sure Shelly was glad she lived some 60 miles away.

When my dad died and mother remarried, she and her late husband Yates would come into town when their checks arrived each month to deposit or get them cashed. My workplace, which is a Baptist Association, is right in town and they had a habit of stopping by from time to time. On many occasions, mother would stop in and see if there was a need at the office for a one hundred dollar bill. Often there was and we would give it to wherever it was needed most. Over time, mother gave to various causes. Once I had commented to her that my computer would soon need replacing at work. Since we are a nonprofit organization and Christ affiliated, she donated the money for a new computer and all the trimmings.

Not long ago, mother sold a number of cows. Well, my mother has always been a giver to the Lord as well as to others. I had come down to her house the Sunday morning after she had received her check for the cattle sale. As I was leaving to go to church, she told me to wait a minute. She wanted to know if she had tithed her cattle check. Because I was running late that morning, I told her we'd do it another day. She said in a motherly tone, "You're not trying to make me cheat the Lord are you?"

Since my niece Shelly was down, I asked her to take mother for her dentist appointment and she agreed. Now the last time mother went to the dentist a few months back, that visit like most was no fun. Mother worked just up the street from her dentist office back in the day and everyone in there knew her very well, unbeknownst to me. As we entered, the receptionist looked like she might have been there for years and years. She greeted mother very friendly. Mother didn't seem to know her, so I didn't think anymore about it. Mother was called back, and as I sat there tied in a knot that mother would be blurting out some unwarranted opinions about her having to come to the dentist, I stepped over to the lady at the desk and whispered that mother had dementia. She began to tell me that she had known mother for many years as she just worked a few doors up the street. My heart dropped a little even though I should have seen that one coming. When mother finished her appointment up, I wrote a check for her visit and made the big mistake of telling her how much it was. As we were leaving the office, you could hear mother voicing her right as a patron all the way to her car. Today, Shelly would have to endure this insanity. One piece of advice I gave to her was to be sure and not let mother know the cost of her visit. Even if it meant lying.

I'm not sure why mother has retained a lot of her money wisdom, but I'm just thankful a part of her still remains.