Friday, July 30, 2010

Another Good Bye

Mom and Dad had two dogs. The boarder collie died about a month ago and today we had to say good bye to Lady. Dogs are wonderful companions but their lives are relatively short and it's very difficult to lose them. Since Linda died Lady has taken to following dad down the road or in the back 40. On Wednesday, when he came home she wasn't around. After some investigation, the neighbor reported that another neighbor took her to the human society. They didn't know where she belonged.

Dad struggled with the decision to bring her home. She was having difficulty getting around, she was deaf and just all around old. She had never been on a chain or in a pen and how would he keep track of her if he brought her home. My husband said he would take care of her so dad agreed. Not something he probably ever would have done on his own but I feel better knowing the dog isn't wondering off somewhere. Dad has another adjustment to make. He is very lonely.

We visited mom today and she was in the mood to go home. I told her she had jobs to do and the staff helped out by giving her a box of towels to fold as we were leaving. It really is important for mom to feel useful and needed. She looked great today. Her hair was done up, short and curled and she had a pink striped shirt and good fitting jeans.

She seemed especially confused today. When I came she was glad to see me but didn't seem to know who I was. We looked at photo albums of our trip to Oklahoma and she asked who my sisters were. I told her, "That's Ceil. She is your daughter in Missouri. She comes to Wisconsin for long visits." She just said, "Well, if you say so." Whenever mom answers with that, I'm pretty sure she doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about. This disease is awful and I can't imagine what it must feel like to lose your memories. I pray that she isn't scared. The staff says that she is doing fine most of the time. She continues to enjoy the live music and dancing and coffee breaks with treats and some games.

On days like today when I visit mom with dad, I feel like I'm juggling something delicate. I try to keep the conversation going. Getting coffee and cookies and exclaiming how it all tastes good and then looking at photos and getting baby Katie and reassuring mom that her baby doll is just fine and that she is getting plenty to eat and then I'm convincing mom that she can't come home today because Don and I both have to get back to work and besides she has a job to do there and yes, I will check on grandma and grandpa and on and on and on....

Some days I'm o.k. with the situation and other times I want to scream. "ISN'T THERE SOMEONE ELSE THAT CAN DO THIS BESIDES ME????" I know that it is silly to waste energy, time and emotions on something I can't change but it still saddens me when I think my brothers are not pitching in at all. Someone told me that they thought it was too difficult for them. What a bunch of bullshit. It's difficult for everyone but some of us know that now is the time mom and dad need us. O.k. there were problems in the past but with out a doubt I know that mom would want all of her children pitching in and supporting her husband and her.

I thank God for giving Mom a safe place to be and I also am thankful for the time I have with my parents.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Over 6 months have passed...

It has taken me this long to be able to look at this blog...Mom is still at the nursing home and we are still adjusting. This is an awful disease. There were some challenging times with the nursing home and mom was not the best behaved resident but for now things have settled down and she seems comfortable and not too anxious. The staff is amazing and I especially like the sitting rooms they have for the residents. Mom is never alone in her room.

I still feel shock when I think about the day my sister and I took mom to Spooner N.H. I am so glad that the past months are over. Having a parent with Alzheimers is difficult but having the other parent stay in the home and go on with life adds to the challenges. Dad misses mom terribly and he misses his cows and his dog. Dad has lost a lot in the past year and although I want to help him, I also have to go on with my life. It's a constant battle to balance everything. I want to visit mom. I try to check on dad or go with him to the nursing home. He calls every morning to check in with me. I miss my old carefree life with just my sweet husband and me. Days hiking, fishing and going places. Next month, I go back to teaching after having over a year off. It will be another adjustment.

I know that mom is not going to get better. As I write about this experience, I want to focus on the good times we can still have together and the positive aspects of our visits.

Mom usually does not remember anything from moment to moment, or day to day. But today when Dad and I were visiting her one of the staff mentioned that yesterday a miniature pony visited and mom really enjoyed the experience. When I asked mom about it she said, "It was so cute and only about so high." She indicted it's height with her hand. It was a pleasure hearing mom recall a positive activity!

A couple weeks ago, when I visited mom she was looking at photo albums. She pointed to a picture of Dad and his brother Irvin and said, "They had coffee with me yesterday." She was right!! Uncle Irvin had not seen mom since December and when she saw him she recognized him right away! That was a sweet moment.

I am very grateful for the care that mom is getting and I am grateful for all the wonderful memories we have of trips together and working at home. We would tease each other and say, "I'm tired of picking...picking in eggs, picking in clothes, picking weeds, picking berries...pick, pick, that all we do. And then we would laugh. Mom and I went on trips to Iowa to meet my sisters and trips to Oklahoma, Missouri and Ohio. We have had a lot of memorable times together and we enjoy the pictures now when we have coffee and treats together.