Saturday, November 13, 2010

"Dementia, the Trickster"

It's a beautiful morning and I am on my way to mother's house to do my usual chores. My oldest Granddaughter Savannah has spent the night with me and rides in the passenger seat, texting her friends and oblivious to her surroundings.

I have called mother so she will be sure to open the door for me when I arrive. I'm on a tight schedule this morning since I'll be dropping Savannah off at school before going to work.

Mother answers the phone, and I can tell right off that it might not be a good morning. In a childlike voice, I hear my mother questioning her presence in a stranger's house. If you read my blogs often, you will remember that mother has a tendency on certain days, to think she is living in someone else's house. Well, today is no different.

"Where in the world am I at Jean?" She asks. "Mother you're at your house, just hang up and come to the side kitchen door and I'll be there soon." "Where's the kitchen at?" she adds. I tell her to walk down the hall and the kitchen is on the right and walk to the coffee pot and I'll be standing at the door directly to her right. She hangs the phone up and I pull up to the house. Banging on the side door, I see no life or light. I begin to call and call. Finally, a light comes on and appearing before me is my mother, carrying a bundle of bed clothing. She opens the door and I naturally ask "what in the world are you doing with that?" "Well, it's the only thing I see in this house that belongs to me!" she answers.

The two belongings that mother has chosen to flee with is interesting to me. Rolled up into a huge ball is an old flowery bedspread which used to adorn hers and my dad's bed at our old home place and an Indian throw, which she lays in the floor for her dog Annie to sleep on.

I can't help but chuckle as I try to convince her that this is her house. She will not budge. Hurling her usual comments at me, I call for her to come into the living room. She obliges me and walks over to the fireplace.

Sitting on the mantel is a whole line of family pictures. I point to each one and tell her who they are. This is a trick which has worked for me in the past when mother won't believe she's in her own house. I begin with my daughter Hannah, then my nephews daughter Andee, telling her short stories about each one as to convince her that she belongs here. Up next is several wedding pictures of my nephew Brandon and his wife Amanda. Sometime last year, mother began saying that she wasn't aware that Brandon had married. Brandon's mother and my sister-in-law Dianne, had brought some pictures up, which were placed on the mantel for mother to see that Brandon indeed had married, when she started in saying that she wasn't aware of it, even though she had attended the wedding alongside the rest of us, and had special honors bestowed upon her as the grandmother of the groom.

The last picture I point out, is a picture of mother and her late husband Yates. She reaches up with a puzzled look on her face and asks "Are the people who live in this house related to Yates?" I naturally ask "why?" "Well, they have a picture of us on their mantle." Seeing that I am getting nowhere fast, I look at my watch and see that I'm late and have not done any of my morning deeds. I plead and plead with mother to understand that this is her house and that she has lived here for the past 18 years. Unrelenting, I tell her that I have to go. I feel uneasy about leaving her in this state, but promise to call as soon as I get to work.

As I arrive, I am anxious to get in the door and give her a call. While dialing her number, I wonder what the verdict will be; will this be her house or not? "Hello" she says. "Well, do you believe that this is your house now mother?" I ask. "Yes, Jeaner" she teases, I've been looking at the furniture in here and I think I remember having a loveseat and couch the same color as these." Even though she isn't completely convinced, I know that it will only take a while before she shakes off this foolish notion of being in someone else's house.

Later in the day, another call is made to mother, and the same question is asked. She tells me that she can't understand why she would think that this is not her home. I have no answers which will satisfy her. There are some days when you have to tell her the truth; "dementia was playing a trick on you." Today, was one of them.

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