I spent the afternoon, evening and now overnight with Mama.
We have made a change in her living situation and moved her into a lovely apartment in a retirement village. She is not in assisted living or a memory unit. She is living independently but with full-time care from one of her children, a dear niece, JK, and her faithful daytime caregiver, Sherry. We’ve got a pretty good schedule going and it is working. At least it is working for us.
Mama is definitely not happy. I arrived at 3:45 today. We chatted then took a short walk outside. That did not go well. Once we were outside, she looked at the building and asked if we had to go back inside that ‘big building’. “Yes, Mama.”
We saw a couple of other residents who were friendly and asked Mama how things are going. She looked befuddled and said “I don’t know what I am doing.” I took her arm, smiled it off and mumbled something about taking a while to adapt. They nodded, understandingly.
Later we made dinner together. Well, I made it and she sat and asked me questions. “How long have I been here?” “Where is my family?” “Do I have to sleep here tonight?” “What is happening to my head?” “Who is paying for this?” “Don’t you think your pants are a little tight?” She has to throw in a couple of personal jabs once in a while. And those questions are on a continual loop for three, four, five hours at a time.
After we cleaned up the kitchen, we chatted a bit more. I then suggested we dip some ice-cream into bowls and eat it on her balcony, she is on the second floor. And that is this photo ~ Mama enjoying her favorite, butter pecan ice-cream, with a side of scowl.
Mama has a large flowering planter on her balcony. After I finished my ice-cream, I began to ‘deadhead’ the flower, pull off brown leaves and in general, give it a cleanup. Of course, that made a bit of a mess on the porch so I asked Mama if she would like to sweep it up. Bingo! Give her a job to do and there is, at least momentarily, a reprieve.
We came back inside and the loop of questions began to play again.
I so wish she could understand that everything we do for her is FOR her. We want her to feel safe, secure, content. It, however, does not shake out that way.
At 8:30, I got out the church hymnal and asked her to sing with me. She usually loves that. Tonight I was singing solos. Every time I ended a song and flipped the page, she began with the loop of questions. I kept singing and sang till my throat ached.
At bedtime, she was mad at me because I did not want her to sleep on the loveseat in her living room. I asked her to put on her pajamas. She said “I guess I have to. I don’t have a say about anything.”
Mama is at the heart-wrenching in-between stage. She is confused and has nearly no short term memory. Yet, she is sharp enough to know us and blame us for…everything.
She is so very lost. Once this evening, she told me that her mind is floating away and she does not know how to catch it. I bit my lip to keep from crying and assured her that no matter what she feels, she will never be alone.
And now she sleeps. I hear her heavy, burdened, weary, bewildered breathing and I pray that she is at least dreaming in peace.
And I pray I do the same.