Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Picture Window

It's that time of the year again, spring flowers, rain showers, daylight savings time and income taxes. It's only 7 o'clock, but mother has already called my house asking when and who will be coming to her house to spend the night. I have reminded her at least 6 times this evening that my husband and I would be down, just as soon as he finished up with our income taxes. It doesn't matter how many times you tell a dementia person something, they will only remember what you are telling them at that very moment and mother is no exception.

My husband Bob is becoming a little agitated at the fact that I am pacing the floor at the mere thought of what mother can be doing down at her house as night falls. With my imagination booming, I decide to drive ahead and be with mother until Bob finishes up and can join us. Some people may ask, "why don't you just stay with your mother and let Bob stay home?" In earlier blogs, I have told of my cowardly personality. I, like my mother, become very antsy when night comes and I'm alone. Especially after all the hallucinations mother has experienced in the past several years, there is no way in this world that I would spend the night at her house alone.

I have called ahead of time to tell mother that I am arriving. As I enter her living room, I notice that she only has a lamp on. My husband has a habit of reading at night and requires the overhead. But, since he's not here yet, mother seems quite comfortable using the one lamp. I quickly turn the television on and sit down on the couch while mother and dog Annie sit on the love seat. Feeling that my eyes need a little bit more light, I jump up and flip the overhead light on. "What in the world are you doing?" she calls out, everybody out there's going to see us sitting in here," she continues. Who's everybody? I ask. "Well, that old woman and those men that walk by from time to time," she answers. Mother begins to tell me that the reason she doesn't sit in her living room at night is because of "others" being able to see her. Only since Bob and I have been staying with her at night, has she dared to stay in her living room.

When mother and her late husband Yates built this house, my sisters and I had a hand in doing some decorating. My sister Sue had the honor of buying window toppers which hung directly over the picture window, allowing for little coverage. Since mother had Yates at the time, she never felt threatened by someone peeping in. Later, when Yates passed, mother decided she needed to cover the window. My sisters and I decided that vertical blinds would be the perfect solution for mother's huge picture window. It wasn't long before we decided differently. Night after night as mother tried to draw the blinds shut, they began to fall. Mother would rant and rave asking anyone who would to help place the blinds back in their perspective slots. I remember once, mother had asked the Termite man to lend a hand. Eventually, she gave in and decided to abandon her living room at hint of night fall and head for her bedroom where no one could peep in.

Growing up at the old home place, a picture window hung in mother's living room as well. Mother enjoyed shopping for curtains and sheers which hung so beautifully, covering every inch of her window. My dad always had a grumble or two for mother's decorating abilities as he could never understand just why someone would pay hundreds of dollars for a picture window and then cover it up with a pile of curtains. I recall a time in my life when I favored daddy's sentiments.

It was around the year 1965. My sister Sue and I had been noticing a white Volkswagon van passing by the house each day pretty close to 4 o'clock. There just happened to be two boys in there, sporting "Beatle" haircuts. Inquiring around the neighborhood, we learned that these handsome young men, were the sons of a prominent doctor and had moved in just about a mile up the road from us. Being as these two were of some considerable wealth, their education carried them all the way to a private school in Spartanburg, South Carolina, hindering us from meeting them at our local public school. We quickly found out that their names were John and Jody Paul. Daydreams and a quick look at them out mother's picture window as they passed by our house each day, was as close as we would ever get to them. One day in particular, my sister and I had got caught off guard. It was our daily duty to have mother's curtains drawn and sheers pulled back and neatly tucked under her oil lamp which sat on the stereo just in front of the picture window, so we could spy our new found crushes. Sounds of the Paul brother's VW van began to make its way up our road. "Sue!" I called, "come here, we're going to miss them!" Running into the living room, Sue quickly drew the drapes as I flung back mother's sheers, unveiling the window and knocking mother's old oil lamp to the floor, breaking it into a million pieces.

Mother's first picture window provided many fond memories of her family: a husband returning home from work each day, children as they played in the yard, a son, arriving home from war, her daughter's first dates, visits from grandchildren. But, through this picture window, mother has gathered only nightmares: so called mountain climbers repelling off cliffs late at night, animals that looked like lions with white fluffy tails, dogs decorated in Christmas colors, strangers peering back at her late into the night, party goers who frequent the old dilapidated home place of her deceased husband, night lights dancing up and down her creek banks, signaling to others of their whereabouts. Dementia has turned mother's beautiful picture window into a window of horrors.

Tonight, as I peer into the darkness of the window, all I can see is the reflection of a middle aged woman, longing to be at home with her husband and family.

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