Saturday, August 27, 2011

"Packing Up"

It's been a while now since mother has come to live with me and my husband, leaving her home, three old cows and trusted canine friend "Annie" behind. Many tears have been shed over the fore mentioned, but sometimes, you must do what's best for those you love, regardless of the sadness that follows afterward.

Each morning before work, I head up mother's driveway only to see "Annie" frolicking through the yard on her way to greet me. Previous plans were made to bring Annie up to my house in a small fenced in back yard, allowing her to come in and visit with mother as often as possible. Reality sat in and as much as I wish it could have came to fruition, it just wasn't feasible. With mother in a small confined area and a dog of Annie's stature and energy, would soon make a fall for mother. Not to mention, the confined space Annie would have to endure, opposed to the spacious farm to which she was accustomed. I feed and water Annie and head on to work.

It's becoming time now for mother's house to be put on the market. Attempts have been made to clean out and dispose of the most personal items which mother and her late husband Yates held so dear. It seems uncomfortably eerie, sorting through and tossing out. As time goes by, it becomes unbearable for me to remove anything from the house. On one occasion, my husband and I had gone down in late evening, to try to sort through some items in the basement. I'm not sure what came over me, but I suddenly burst into tears and ran up the stairs ordering my husband Bob to take me home. Every item tells it's own story; from the curtains to the rugs, remembering the pride and joy that each of these "things" had meant to my mother when first purchased, breaks my heart. Who am I to dispose of these personal treasures as if they were yesterday's garbage.

Today, my family and I have finally completed the transition. New flooring, a fresh coat of paint inside and out and thorough cleaning has made mother's house suitable for a new family to move in.

I often ask mother what she remembers about her past home of some 20 years. Receiving a reply of "well you know, I lived over there in that house with your daddy on Skyuka road." I have mentioned in previous blogs that there are times when dementia can be your friend. This is one of them.

Glancing around at precious items in my own house. I'm aware that the day will come when my three children will be in the same shoes that I wear today, disposing of my belongings which I have held so dear in days gone by. Somehow, just knowing this to be true, makes it a little easier to say goodbye.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"A Better Me"

It's been a really good day, as my two youngest grandchildren had come to spend the afternoon with me and mother. I was really amazed at how nice and well behaved she was in dealing with them for on many occasions, mother has been less than pleasant to say the least, when any of my grandchildren would come to visit. Since dementia, she seems to have no patience with children or teenagers, contradicting her very fiber as she has always been a loving, and devoted grandmother throughout the years.

It's getting time for me to take the children home. My husband Bob has called and informed me that he is only five minutes away from his return from work, so I decide to leave mother safely in her apartment and head on out. When I return, I see that it's not long from being time to give mother's evening medications. I run upstairs to leave my purse and hurry back down. At the bottom of the stairs awaits an irate mother. "What in the world am I doing here?" she questions. "I need to get home, I have folks waiting on me!" she continues. "Mother, just have a seat in your blue chair over there while I get your medicine and we'll talk." I tell her. As I make my way into the kitchen, I hear her call to me, "Do I need to call Jean and tell her to come get me?" she says. I pause for a minute and say, "Mother, I AM Jean." "Well, I know you are, but I'm talking about the "other Jean" that lives with me and Bryson.

I have written in previous blogs about mother thinking that she has someone in her life that looks like and bears the same name as her late husbands, Bryson and Yates, but they're not really them she says, just looks like them. Lately, she has mistaken me for her late Stepmother, Normar and various caregivers who have come to stay with her for awhile, but for her to say that there's "another Jean" somewhere, has really grabbed my attention.

I walk into the livingroom to see her sitting there in the blue chair with a lined brow, as if she is trying fervently to figure the whole thing out. I assure her again that I'm the only Jean there is, but add on that if she ever sees the other one again, to let me know and I'll come and change places with her. Mother gives up a little grin at that one and seems to come out of her rage. I have oftened wondered just why mother's mind has made up duplicates of the people in her life. Is it because she longs for them, but "better" ones. Possibly she thought I wasn't satisfying her need at that moment, remembering the person I used to be, the little girl that followed her around all day, idolizing her every move. Would "that Jean" come and rescue her from this dreaded place?

I think we all strive our whole life through, to become a better person. How unfair it is to those suffering from dementia who never have a chance to fulfill that quest.

Years ago, I was asked to sing at a funeral for a beautiful lady in our community who had met with a tragic death. I was taken by a poem that was printed in her memorial which she had penned and have kept it all these years. Many times when I felt that I was being a little less than what I should have been, I would take it out and read it, just to remind me that we are all human and yearn to be a little bit better.

A Better Me

The me I wish I could be
Would never harm a soul,

Could never speak in angry tones,
Or have a selfish goal,

And no more wrong of harmful deeds
I'd ever want to do,

If this perfect ideal me
Could be a picture true.

The me I wish I could become
Will never really be,

But simply wanting such a thing
Will make a better me.---Dianne Jackson