Monday, November 15, 2010

Ramblings and Repetitions

Last week, I drove up to Vermont to spend a couple of days with my mom.  She has Alzheimer's.  She still lives by herself but can't drive any more.  She relies on friends to bring her to church and my sister-in-law to take her to appointments and shopping.  People are busy with their lives though and she doesn't get out much and is quite bored; she tells me so all the time.

So I went up by myself so I could focus on her for a bit and she'd have a little company.  We did go to the movies:  RED and Morning Glory.  She didn't love either of them saying at the end of the second movie: They just don't make them like they used to.  Too true.

One morning we were imprisoned in the house waiting for the Cable Guy.  My mom doesn't have cable, never did.  Growing up the refrain was: I will never pay for television.  Alzheimer's has mellowed her and we told her we (the kids) were paying for it so she can watch all those old, good movies.  Surprisingly, she agreed.  While waiting, I thought how she is rather like a toddler.  She repeats herself the way a young child wants to play the same monotonous game over and over.  Also, because she is bored, she really enjoyed having someone to talk to; she almost demanded attention. 

I, immediately, felt guilty for thinking this.  And felt even more guilty when I had to return home and leave her to her boredom.  I feel guilty and helpless because I don't know what to do to alleviate her condition.  I'm cranky and intolerant of other people (more so than usual) because I don't know how to negotiate this new terrain.

Returning home, and hanging out with my own children, I feel worried about my future and their future.  My mom did a lot with her life:  raised 7 kids, returned to school to get her MLS, worked, traveled, volunteered (and that's just a small hit list).  I want to model a fully realized life for my children but how do I do that?  And yet a part of me wants to just hide my head in the sand.  Staring mortality in the face, my flight-or-fight instincts are working overtime; I wonder who will win.

I have no point to this post but wanted to share because I'm sure I'll be writing about this more.  I guess you could say that this subject, like the rest of my life, is a work in progress.


  1. Everyone's life is a work in progress, but many do not recognise this. You work, you manage a home and care for a husband and family, you spend time with friends and family, you run and you take a class to keep up your French.

    What have I forgotten?

    This sounds like a full life to me...

    What else would you like in your life, Kate?

    Remember that your life is yours and it may not be exactly like your mother's but that isn't bad or wrong, either.

    You are a smart woman. Answers will come.

  2. you know...having watched a relative pass slowly well before their time...i can share some of those feelings...its hard...for sure...

  3. I feel you. Did you know that I think my very first acknowledged "anxious moment" was when watching Driving Miss Daisy? I truly truly truly thought - this is a horror show! This growing old stuff sucks! I can never quite get rid of the terror of having my elders suffer the aging process or having my husband or I go through it. Each birthday brings it closer. It's hard to enjoy the moment when you are worried about the future. And what I've learned is the anticipation and the guilt and the side emotions are so much worse than the reality of dealing with it. So while I do bury my head in the sand quite often, when I resist it, the result is better - for my loved ones and my own psyche. Hang in there.

  4. I think the worst thing would be wondering if it's hereditory. So many of my friends now have ageing parents, some with Dimentia or Alzheimers and it's so hard to watch. Harder for them than their parents I suspect. Keep visiting though Kate, my friend no longer visits her mother because she isn't recognised and I find that even sadder than the disease.

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