Friday, December 27, 2013

"Who Am I"?

I must say, it's good to be back blogging about something other than myself. As most of you may know, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in late May of this year and have been fighting my own battle of survival. Presently, I am in radiation. The 16th treatment out of 35 has already been offered up this morning and I am looking forward to what lies ahead for me in the coming months. I am a Christian and have faith in a God that can conquer breast cancer, dementia or anything else He chooses, the grave just happens to be a specialty of His! Due to my situation, I haven't been unable to visit mother at the home as much as I would like. Recently though, I have been trying to get back on schedule as much as my physical body allows. Today, my daughter Hannah and I went up for a visit. As I meandered down the hall, in search of a tiny little silver haired "mother" I could feel the excitement mounting over my eyes meeting her eyes and hearing the words, "There's my Jean!" The reality of it all, was that I would find a mother who had no idea of the person in the black cap, walking her way, who had been her daughter for some 60 years now. As I grab hold of her wheelchair and turn her around, she questions as to who I am. Several weeks prior, I had stopped in for a quick visit and discovered mother talking with another resident. As I interrupted their conversation, I could clearly see that mother had no clue as to who I was. I said, "mother, do you know who I am"? She replied..."are you 'I am'? The lady who had been talking to her informed her that "I am" was not a name and that she should know better. We have finally arrived in the front sitting room of the home, which has always been a favorite of mine ever since mother came to reside here. I am anxious to "park" her chair and began a conversation. My first question is always..."Do you know my name"? I'm not sure of the need here, but it is an ever present one that I can't seem to eliminate from this nightmare of dementia. I suppose it is a well known fact that each of us as children, whether young or old, yearn to be loved and known intimately by our mother. She looks at me with bewilderment and says, "Did you know that I've quit school"? A little surprised at the change of subject, my daughter and I break out into laughter and play along with her. It has always bothered mother that she never finished high school, when the twelfth grade was being offered the year she quit and got married. She continues on with, "And do you know that daddy and my stepmother, didn't say a word one"! With plenty of laughter to fill the room, I can plainly see that mother will never realize today, who I am and that I have brought her youngest granddaughter Hannah for a visit. There are many things that one must come to terms with when a loved one is in a state of dementia. The probability that they will eventually forget who their children and grandchildren are, is a given. Today, I realize that the time has come sooner than I wanted it to.

2 comments:

  1. Jean, Thanks for your post. I'm an 11-yr breast cancer survivor as well as dementia caregiver for my Dad. Can't imagine how you juggle your roles all at the same time. I hope and pray that your prognosis is good. May God bless you for being faithful to visit your Mom.

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  2. Hi Jean. I just discovered your blog, read quite a few posts, and really like your writing. Your visits with your mom remind me of visits with my mom, who passed away in late 2012 at age 80 with advanced vascular dementia and probable Alzheimer's. I was her caregiver for 8 years, in my home and several elder care facilities. I would like to add your blog to my list of favorite blogs for dementia caregivers on my book's website, www.insidedementia.com. Take care, and thank you for sharing your humor and insights with the world.
    --author, "Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter's Memoir"

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