“Is tonight a full moon?” That’s what I asked the nurse yesterday when I was visiting Mom.
She said, “Every day is a full moon here.”
Betty, one of the residents, asked me if I was smoking, and I said, “No, but I could use one right about now.”
“Do you smoke?” I asked her.
“No, never did,” she said.
The highlights of my visit with Mom are as follows:
Mom: You don’t care about me anymore.
Me: That’s not true.
Mom: Where have you been? (accusingly)
Me: I work full-time and can only come on weekends.
Last weekend I didn’t visit, which might have set her off.
Mom: You spend plenty of time with Lorin.
Me: Well, we live together, but we both work full-time, so we don’t see each other as much as you think.
P.S. Why do I have to defend myself? Am I not allowed to spend time with my husband?
Mom: I hate it here.
No response from me, I keep wheeling her around the floor, hoping she’ll shut up.
Mom: Why did I ever move here?
Me: I don’t know.
Mom: Am I going to die here?
No response from me.
Mom: Look at all those old fogies lined up.
She was referring to her fellow residents seated in a row in front of the nurse’s station. She does not consider herself to be one of them, it seems.
Mom: It’s stuffy in here, isn’t it?
Me: No, it’s not. The windows are open.
Mom: They never wash my hair. It’s a mess.
Me: I put you on the list for the hair salon. You’ll get it cut and colored.
I told her this over and over but she kept complaining about the awful state of her hair. They do, in fact, wash her hair twice a week.
I was tempted to leave more than once, but stayed on, after she apologized. We watched ER and drank coffee.
Another resident named John came into Mom’s room and said to me, “I have some business to discuss with you.”
“Can we go outside to discuss it?” I said.
“Okay,” he said as I led him out and told the nurse he had “business” to discuss.
“But I need to discuss it with you,” he said, as the nurse led him away.
Another resident was screaming at the top of her lungs in her room, “Where is my mommy?! I want my mommy!”
I have seen her in this state before, and she is inconsolable. It takes her about an hour to calm down.
I don’t know how the aides and nurses keep going when I observe the goings-on. They deserve to be paid more than our fabulously wealthy Wall Street bankers and CEOs. Where’s the equity?
* * *
I am trying hard not to take Mom’s words to heart, but when you have spent years helping someone out, and they are so hurtful, it can be difficult to take. It was as if she had returned to her pre-Alzheimer’s mean, manipulative self. It brought up a lot of old issues for me.
Today was a much better day. I baked banana bread, watched the Tony Bennett / Lady Gaga concert on PBS and took a hot bath. Lady Gaga is awesome, by the way, and Tony Bennett still looks great. I put our standing scarecrow outside on the top step, taping him with duct tape to the railing so he doesn’t blow away in the harsh wind. Trying to stay positive.
photo by Erica Herd