Sunday, January 31, 2010

How Do I Answer That Question?

Sunday January 31, 2010

This afternoon I received a phone call from Mom. Phone calls from Mom these days are very rare. There once was a time (before dementia) that a day wouldn't go by that one of us didn't call the other. Now, however, a week or more may go by and I don't hear anything. Yes, of course I could pick up the phone but throughout my day of household chores, running errands, and taxiing my children to and from school and their extracurricular activites the day slips away and before I know it the day is over. Not an excuse by any means but an explanation. I should do better about checking in and in the past I was much better about it. Now, I just don't have it in me. Terrible, I know.

Todays phone call was a pleasant one. Pleasant up until Mom asked me a heart wrenching question. Her question was... "Do you know where Mother and Dadoo are?". Mother and Dadoo are my grandparents, my mothers parents who died more than 30 years ago.

"OH MY GOSH!" I thought. How do I answer that question? In my head I'm trying desperately to find an answer. My reply was "what?" trying to give myself a few extra seconds to think of something to say. Mom asked again..."Do you know where Mother and Dadoo are?" then she added "they have just disappeared since yesterday". Nothing is coming to me, I cannot think of anything. Do I tell her that her parents are no longer living? If I tell her they are dead how will she react? Will she cry, will she say "oh that's right", will she tell me I'm lying? I could feel myself starting to sweat and after a pause that seemed like an eternity I simply said "no" and changed the subject.

For nearly 3 years I have attended a monthly support group for caregivers of alzheimers and dementia patients. I have learned so much in those 3 years, how to care for, how to talk to, and how to react with those who suffer from memory loss and I am so grateful to have all of that knowledge. But being confronted with it is another story. When Mom asked me that question about her parents I froze and forgot practically everything I learned. I was so scared of breaking her heart by telling her the truth so I just didn't tell her anything but "no".

If anyone out there actually reads this blog, please tell me how do you think you would have answered that question?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Father or husband?


Several things have happened since my last post, I will keep this brief. December 13th our family said a final good-bye to my Aunt Nancy, my fathers sister. Mom and Dad flew down to Mobile Alabama (where Aunt Nancy lived) to see her before she died to say their good-byes. My sister, Camille, and I drove down to Mobile and met up with Mom and Dad a couple of days later. It was a bittersweet moment for all of us but we're so grateful that we got to see and talk to her before she passed away. Aunt Nancy knew she was dying. It was great to see our 4 cousins, her sons. It had been about 8 years since the last time we got to see each other. Other circumstances though would have been better.

After being back at home we began gathering for family Christmas functions. My cousin, Anne Stewart, hosted this years family dinner. Mom began telling the story of how we all drove down to Mobile to celebrate Christmas with Nancy and her boys (remember Mom and Dad flew down). Mom kept talking about how long the drive was. Then she said she was not aware that Nancy was going to die and she did not realize that she was saying a final good-bye when she visited Nancy in the hospital. Of course everyone knew what really happened...we try not to correct Mom on some things...it will only embarrass her.

Moms dementia seems to have taken another slip. Over the past week Dad has mentioned to me that her confusion is getting worse. More often she is convinced that Dad is HER father, not her husband. She also believes that their house is the house she grew up in. He told me he overheard Mom telling my Aunt Margaret (moms sister) on the phone that "mother isn't here right now, not sure when she will be back but Dadoo is here" and handed Dad the phone. My grandmother (moms mom) passed away over 30 years ago and my grandfather died before my grandmother. Dadoo is the nickname that Mom had given HER father when she was a little girl.

At this moment I'm awaiting a phone call from my father with more stories of moms confusion. Needless to say he is very worried and upset.