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