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.

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