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?

1 comment:

Whitney Bishop said...

Anne - I think how you responded was just right. Compassionate and appropriate given the circumstances. My heart goes out to you and your family.