Friday, September 28, 2012
TGIF! Yes, it's Friday! I have had one more week! My middle granddaughter, thinking I was in need of a gift, gave me her head and chest cold, so I've been battling that all week. As I've mentioned in earlier blogs, I work at a Baptist Association office and this past week was a busy time there as well, with our Fall Revival services each night. My boss has decided to let me leave a little early today, to go see mother and run some errands. My oldest granddaughter is a freshmen at Appalachian State and tomorrow is "family day." Knowing that she is looking forward to her Papa and Nana coming for a visit, accompanied with plenty of edible treats, I am in a rush to go by the nursing home to have a short visit with mother and then off to Wally World to pick up my ingredients. As I walk toward mother, I see her eyes opening wide. Unlike most days when I walk up on her, she seems to be awake and alert. "Howdy!" I say. We go on with our routine of "where did you come from?" and so on... She quickly wants to know where we're going. As usual, I wheel her up the hall to our favorite room. It isn't long til mother is saying she needs to make a restroom visit. I roll her back to her room and do the honors. Looking at my watch, I see that I need to be leaving in order to get my shopping done and back home at a decent time. Two of mother's caregivers join us and mother begins telling them about a little boy who is down the hall and had given her some ill feelings. Years ago, this scene would make me cringe, but now, it's just part of the day. I say my goodbyes and off I go. I enter Walmart and head for the grocery section. One of my granddaughter's request, is that I make her a batch of chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal cookies. As I round the aisle to pick up some oatmeal, I encounter a woman in her 70's. She seems to be lost. I ask, "can I help you look for something?" I'm not sure what it is about me, I must look like I belong in a department store with a "Can I Help You?" badge on. So many times throughout my life, people will automatically come up to me in a store and ask if I work there. One of the most unusual thing that happened to me was some time back in the early 80's. I had just been shopping in Kmart and leaving the store. A very tall man approached me at the door. He looked up at the ceiling and said..."Wait! don't I know you? Have we been together in a different time or something?" Had he not been looking up at the ceiling the whole time or wasn't talking so goofy, I might have found that flattering. Anyway, today was unlike any other. This lady, who seemed to have a question on her puzzled face, had came in my direction. She begins to cry and say that she has looked all over the store for "grits" and can't find them. I tell her that they most certainly must be down here where I'm headed to pick up some oatmeal. She suddenly begins telling me that she is sorry for taking up my time and she would hurry. She says, "You know, hurry is the story of my life!" I have three family members in the nursing home with Alzhiemer's and all I do is run back and forth taking care of them. I even cared for my daddy til he died in 1991. She continued telling me her life story. I had noticed that she was missing all her teeth as she first began to speak. She voluntarily told that she had written herself a note to put her dentures in before leaving the house, but forgot. Many things she was telling me, seem to parallel with my life. I could clearly see that she was demented. I left the aisle and told her it was nice talking to her. As I made my way back to the dairy and back, there she was, standing with a man who was unpacking lunch meats. I could hear her as I passed by, telling him the same stories. I roll my cart into the checkout, behind at least 3 others with full carts. I look at a nearby empty checkout that says "20 items or less" I remark to the lady in front of me that they should have a checkout that says "20 bags or less!" Catching myself, speaking to a stranger in the store, just as the elderly lady had to me, I backed off from conversation. As I take my turn to checkout, I start thinking about how little my car is and how much "stuff" I've bought. I remember that I had forgotten to memorize the row number before coming inside, so I wouldn't get lost when I came out. As I make my way out, I am overwhelmed with a sea of vehicles. The glare of the sun beats down on them all, making each car look the same. Thinking what will I do, I head on into the lot, frantically looking for my tiny white car. Walking around for at least 5 minutes, I glance to my right and see and hear the same demented lady. She is lost too! And is searching for her car, just like me! I quickly spy my vehicle, throw my groceries in and take off. I'm not sure why this lady became a part of my world today, maybe it was a reminder for me to "slow down," and stop trying to save the world for everybody as apparently this lady had done, from the story she told. I just pray that it's not too late!
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Running up the cove for a short visit with mother right before Church, I am interested to see what she might be up to. Heading down the hall, I spy her, sitting with her head leaned back in her wheelchair, mouth wide open, asleep. I walk up to her and whisper in her ear...wake up! Mother has an older cousin at the home now, who has a mind as sharp as a tack. I was talking to her one day and she told me that mother sleeps with her mouth so wide open, that she could put an egg in it. Mother sits up as I speak to her, "well where did you come from?" she inquires. "Oh, from Santa's land" I tease. I began to roll her up to the front room. I don't know what it is about that room, but I love to sit there. Even if I wasn't visiting mother, I'd still like to just sit there and relax. The orange and yellow decor is somehow soothing to my inner beast. Thinking that mother probably feels the same, I enjoy rolling her up there while we visit. Sitting in the sunlight glow of the room, mother begins to nap. A car pulls up and an elderly man with a cane slowly slides out of the front seat and makes his way to the front door of the nursing home. I then see a much younger man walking around the back of the vehicle, who joins him at the door. As the door pulls open, mother jumps and calls out "is it snowing out there?" Thinking that I would be embarrased as to mother's words, I look at both men with a quirky face. Only to find that neither one seem to have heard her question. On down the hall they go, as if they are headed for a very important appointment and have arrived late. As I rejoin mother, I can hear a slight commotion. A woman is crying profusely, as to sob, saying "Why have you left me here?" "Take me home!" "I don't want to be here!" "You promised!" Now, I have told you in earlier blogs about my mother's "sonic hearing." Since then, I have discovered that I am not far behind her. Pulling into the grocery store one day, gas pumps were located just down the hill. I exited my car, and heard two people conversing as if they were next to my car. I looked all around me and no one was there. Looked again, and I could see approximately 100 yards down the hill at the gas pumps, two people talking. I was able to hear every word they were saying as if they were right beside me. When telling others about this incident, I have joked that possibly extraordinary hearing is a symptom of dementia, since the brain shrinks, leaving plenty of room for the ear canal to function. I will investigate this theory of mine, another day. So, here we sit, all the way at the end of the hall in the front room, with the visitors at the other end, and it sounds as if they are standing right beside us. Mother begins to make a inquisitive face as to what is happening. Just about that time, a resident, who like mother, wheels around the home with great ease and has the same curse, "dementia," rolls into the room, she stops at the door, turns and goes toward the restroom, stops there, wheels back around in our direction. She comes over to me with a look on her face as if she's a child and has soiled herself. I ask "are you alright?" "No" she says. "I have wet myself!" and begins to cry. I get up, assuring her that she will be alright and wheel her back down the hall to get the necessary help. There I see sitting nearby, the lady who was sobbing so, accompanied by the man with the cane and the younger man. My eyes make contact with hers as she sits on the edge of her wheelchair. She looks at me as if to say, "Don't look at me like that, I don't belong here!" I turn and go back up the hall to mother. My heart is heavy for the woman, and I began to cry. There was just something about this woman that touched my heart. Visiting mother several times a week, I have come to hear many cries, rants, raves and sobs from the residents here, but this was different. This lady didn't seem demented or decrepid. Her voice was that of someone who might be your neighbor, someone you work with, the checkout lady at the grocery store... me..or you. It was getting time to leave for Church, so I roll mother back to her room. As we start up the hall, the younger man is walking by. Normally I wouldn't be so bold, but because my heart broke for the lady so, I stopped him and asked if she was his mother, hoping he would devulge some information. He began to tell me the situation. Her husband was the man with the cane. He lives at another nursing facility, and she had to be here since there was only one room available. They had been married for some 64 years. He had picked his father-in-law up to bring him to see his wife and spend the day with her, but had gotten a late start. The woman, thinking she has been forsaken had wits on end. Hearing this explanation, somewhow made me feel better. I have asked myself, just why did that upset me so much? My conclusion is that one day, I know my inevitable fate. My mother will be 84 years old this December. I'll be 59, the same month. I cannot imagine that my brain will survive another 25 years. I fear the sentence of dementia each and every day, each and every misspoken word, every look that I get when I do a goofy thing that most people might laugh at. I pray for families all over the world, that one day, there will be a cure for this dreaded disease, dementia. The theif that is stealing the very souls from the ones we love.