Self Expression Magazine

Seeing Inside

Posted on the 19 May 2017 by Laurken @stoicjello

I had a few minutes alone with my mother at her rehab  facility.    It’s a nursing home, really…but ardly the sad, urine stenched homes for the elderly they used to be.  While it still doesn’t scream hope, hopelessness isn’t a the common word used to describe this place.

But the reality is, she’s 87 which means everything else about her is 87.     Muscles, eyes, lungs, toenails….everything.   I used to be bothered when she’d complain of being tired for what seemed like no apparent reason.     But that was just her age and my denial.

She’s not sure why she’s at this place.  She had a fall but has tried to explain eight different times with eight different explanations how she landed on the floor, but it wasn’t a fall, she insists.     It was, says every test and professional who has evaluated her.

We showered her with flowers,  cards and balloons on Mother’sDay.   Half of her grandchildren were there; that delighted her.    The rest  who live farther away will come later.

As her family,  we did as we were told–we bought familiar things from her home, which only confusesd her more.    Photos, her favorite pillows, her books.    She has scoffed  at this, telling us we’re wasting our time since she’s moving back home “tomorrow”.   Everyday, she plans to leave “tomorrow”.   She claims for the past serveral days, someone in scrubs or a white coat has told her she’s going home “tomorrow”.     So, everything we bring, she immediately  packs in preparation for going home tomorrow, a day that will most likely ever come.

I watched her today and, listened to her speak and could barely control the rage and anger I felt at dementia.     It is like ALS in its insidiousness.   My mother is trapped in a body that moves, controlled by a mind that is fragmented.    Her brain has shrunk, as have the cranial veins that controls blood flow.    The myelin which encases the brain is thinning.    Her tests all prove what her confusion suggests.

She has moments, sometimes hours of keen memory that can go  back decades.  She can be remarkably precise.    Then in a flash, she has no idea who she’s talking to, or where she is.    Her mood is stable one minute, depressed and angry the next.

I’ve had a contentious relationship with my mother all my life.   The stork hadbthevwrongbadress, we used to say.    I’m the youngest  of three daughters.    I moved to this burgeoning Texas Hill Country city five years ago when my middle sister  who was here,  moved  to South Texas to start a new life..    I came here to seek redemption with my mother before one of us died,     In some ways, we came close to achieving it, in other ways, we came nowhere near it   But we managed to maintain a relationship that worked in its own unique, if not conflicted way.

We’ve had  massive fights ending in being incommunicado for years.     Prior to her recent fall and this oddly seemingly overnight increase in dementia.  I’ve had little patience with her and when she acted like a child, I treated her like a child,   When she yelled at me, I yelled  back.   I’d try to help her in and out of cars only to get screamed at, hands slapped, the whole  nine yards, but if I didn’t offer help, I was accused of agism.   There was no winning.  There was never any winning.

My Mother  can still be be vicious and cruel.   Her friends and associates, many cousins and our contemporaries  don’t believe me or my sisters when we’ve said she could be be mean….as mean at 87 as she was at 79…60…50 and even at earlier ages.

But in the grand scheme of things, none of that matters.   It takes everything you possess not to let a sad, tragic past dictate  an old, feeble woman’s present.   I can’t speak for my sisters.; they both have their own stories, but while I have a hundred reasons to do as so many adult children do…..dump their parents at these facilities and never see them again.   They write a check each month, just enough to keep them fed and clothed and medicated and that’s the extent of their  relationships.   I used to think the people  who did this were such selfish, uncaring assholes.     I’ve since learned that very often neglectful  younger parents end up as neglected senior citizens.   After their horrible childhoods, writing a check is the most affection their children can muster, but   I….we….can’t do that to our mother.   The words, “I love you” don’t come easy  for any of us, but we honor her by making her comfortable and try to allay her fesrs and confusion.  That’s so hard to do…saying I love you would be easier.

In addition to dementia, she has advanced kidney disease.     Other organs will soon follow them down the failure trail.   I know my days with her are numbered and my days of having coherent conversations will end  even faster.

I feel extraordinary guilt for losing my patience with her so often,   for the fights, for not properly deflecting the animus that comes with her disease, for constantly rolling my eyes at her slowness, at her refusal for whatever reason she continues to choose note to wear thevhearing aid she so desperstely  needs.   I remember  getting angry at what were lies ten years ago and even angrier that they’re now delusions

I have several things  to say to  my mother in the next few days…important things that she’ll either understand or not, but these are things important for me to say out loud.

I have to apologize to her and forgive myself.

Seeing Inside


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