Sunday, November 24, 2013

A fun family game...

If you're like us, you like spending family time together.  Here's a fun project the whole family can enjoy.  Make some Rum Toddies (with a LOT of rum). Make it a big batch, the kids will want some too. Cut out this conversation (I left convenient breaks between the lines for easy cutting.) Toss the lines into a big bowl, mix them up, and pull them out, one at a time. Try experimenting with different levels of aggravation in your voices. The fun part of this game is that you can repeat the steps over and over for unending fun.

Mom: Did you want to go out for awhile?
Me: We just got back.

Mom: We could go get some coffee. I haven't gone out in days.
Me: Mom, we just got back. I just took you out.

Mom: I haven't been anywhere.
Me: Ok.

Mom: So, do you want to go out?
Me: No, thank you.

Mom: I'd really like to go out.
Me: Yeah, I got that.

Mom: So, do you want to go out?
Me: * ignoring her *

Mom: Maybe I'll take a walk.
Me: Ok.

Mom: So, do you want to go out?
Me: No, thank you.

Mom: Maybe I need to walk. I'll go get some coffee. Would you like to walk with me? If you walk with me, we can ride.
Me: * ignoring her *

Mom: Yep, I think I'll just walk. Wanna walk with me?
Me: No, thank you.

Mom: Well, I guess I better get my stuff together. It's a beautiful day for a walk.
Me: Yep, it's pouring rain. Perfect day for a walk.

Mom: Then you'll walk with me?
Me: Nope.

Mom: I'm just going to go myself then.
Me: Ok.

Mom: Just so you know, if I go by myself I'm going to find myself a man.
Me: Good.

Mom: I'll bring him home, too. And, he'll think you're just as mean as I do.
Me: Ok.

* Quiet for a few seconds *

Mom: Do you want to go for some coffee?

It's our favorite game. I hope you enjoy it, too. ;)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My family...

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about family.  I would like to think that it is simply the time of year that, traditionally, we consider and remember our families.  But, I'm sure most of the thoughts were brought about by the deterioration of my own family.  The situation with Mom over the last few years has forced me to realize that of the unit that my siblings and I formed, wasn't as strong as I believed it to be.  I venture into this holiday season with the memories of two brothers who have passed, a brother who would rather be anywhere but here, and another brother who has virtually walked away from the unit and our mother.  I miss them all desperately. 

But, I am forced to also consider the amazing family that I am blessed with...

-My daughters, who I wish could be anywhere but here and living this Hell with me.  But, I am so very thankful that they are here, loving and supporting me everyday. They are my rocks.
-The cousin who unfailingly sends me a card of support, offering words of understanding when I need them most. Who always "gets it".
-The uncle who texts me a couple of times a week with a smile and a good wish, who gives me the best hugs when I see him.
-The cousin who has her own difficulties, who offers me unconditional support, who would be here in a heartbeat if were to only ask, who always includes my youngest daughter in fun activities and allows her a safe place to get away and to be a child.
-The aunt who has sent me money just because she loves her sister AND me, who offers me support and understanding.
-The ones who offer encouraging words and who read my words without judgement.  The ones who, I KNOW would be here in the trenches with me if they could be.

 But, I have another, equally important family.  They are the friends...

-The ones who I haven't seen in many years, who by the wonder of Facebook, have come into my life and shown me kindness, understanding and even escapes from my daily challenges. 
-The ones whom I have never met, but I can privately share the ugliest parts of my life and they respond with compassion, suggestions that come from experience, and even laughter.  Lots of laughter.
-The childhood friends who always have a positive word and a hug when I need it.
-The one who has her own demons but never fails to help me fight mine. 

If you are reading this, you are my family. This Thanksgiving, while I mourn the loss of my traditional family, I rejoice in the people who are here for me.  Everyday.  As I sit down to our quiet Thanksgiving dinner, please know that I will be saying a prayer of gratitude for you, my family, as I do everyday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pity party...

Continue reading only if you don't mind a published pity party.

I am just feeling so very overwhelmed. Up until 3 years ago, I was on top of my game. I had a job and a career that, while I wasn't rolling in the money, I was blessed to be able to provide for my family. We didn't need anything. We were comfortable. I was a single mom who moved my family in with my mother to help her in the early stages of her disease. Of course, there were conflicts and problems, that's part of life. But, we were happy.

Then almost 3 years ago, the economy forced me out of my job. I looked at it as a blessing because the timing coincided with my Mom's condition worsening. But, it also began a series of situations that began testing my faith and the very reality of who I am.

Now, I feel as if each test that I have gotten through, I am handed another. Sort of, “Well, you came out of that one smiling, try this... Whack!” And, each challenge is harder to smile through. I am tired with no rest in sight. I am broke and falling deeper into the money pit. I am sick with no healthcare and a system that doesn't work. I am angry and becoming angrier. I am alone.

Yesterday, my car was ransacked and several items were taken. But, worse, the jerk then stole my daughter's car. I feel like I have the proverbial “kick me” sign on my back. And, by association, my children are being kicked, as well. I can't help but wonder what I did that was so horrible that this is my payback.

I know that those items and the car are just things. I know that. I am grateful that no one was hurt. I am grateful for so much. But, at what point is it okay to just say, “Screw it”?

Published pity party is over. I will now continue in private. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I did not want to be right...

I knew this day was coming, but it's not a gloating, "I told you so" type of knowing.  It's more of a "what's next" type of knowing. explain. 

Mom has been angrier than usual lately.  Everything from taking a pill (I'm trying to kill her) to taking a shower (she already did that) is grounds for an argument.  And, sometimes, a physical argument.  Mom had to take a shower this morning.  Without, going into too much detail, she had to take one.  After, asking her politely, trying to bribe her, coax her, trick her, threaten her, I ended up forcing her to take the darn thing.  It turned into a mini brawl that included arm holds and choking (towards me, not her).  Once I got her in, she showered with minimal assistance. 

She calmed down while she ate her breakfast.  But, she was itching to go.  Just as soon as the van arrived to pick her up, she became argumentative and nasty again.  I had to get her seated because she was so angry. Her day was okay at the day care, until she had to ride the van again.  The driver called and said that they were running late because Mom "threw a fit".  By the time they arrived here, Mom refused to get off the van. 

She just fights everything. If you want her to go, she wants to stay.  If she's hungry and you give her food, she doesn't want it and refuses to eat it.  I am sure that it's her final attempt to control a life that has become chaotic and uncontrollable.

The van driver asked me what steps were they allowed to take to calm Mom.  As I'm concerned about their safety, I told her that, yes, they could restrain Mom. I felt okay with my answer, because I trust these people.  Nothing in the facility is done behind closed doors.  The clients are always in full view of anyone and everyone.  Just from my personal observation, these people have so much more compassion and patience than I do.  And, they are aware that restraint is the final choice for Mom.  But, what a choice.

I will be trying to contact Mom's memory doctor tomorrow.  Between the lack of sleep (mine) and the aggression, something needs to be done. I just hope that, at this point, there is something that can be done. I shudder and cry at the possibility that the day care will be forced to turn her away. 

Yes, I knew this day was coming, I just didn't want to be right. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

I've seen fire...

Mom was on fire today.  The van had to pull over before they even got off of our street.  She raised her fist to the driver on the way home.  When the driver raised her own hands in a demonstration of submission to Mom, Mom started screaming that the woman hurt her. 

Mom's been home for maybe 15 minutes and she's picked a few fights with me. She was furious that the mailbox was attached to the front of the house.  She has accused me of stealing her jewelry, hitting her in the nose, and breaking her arm.  She's slapped Katie and has dumped the food that we gave her. 

Right now, she is on a timeout in her room.  And, just like when I used to send my kids to their rooms, it's not so much about punishing them, but more giving me a break before I completely lose my temper. 

As I am writing this, Fire and Rain came on Pandora:

"Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
I won't make it any other way."


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sign language...

I am sitting here trying not to laugh.  Loudly.  Mom is sitting across the room frantically gesturing to me.  She wants me to leave with her, but leave my daughter here.  The problem is, my daughter can see her. Very clearly  Somehow, she thinks if she waves her arms above her head, violently shakes her hands back and forth while trying to get my attention, then no one else in the room can see her. When she thinks I am looking, she holds up one hand as a shield and points to the door with her other hand.  Her movements are so frantic, you can actually hear them!

I am doing my best to ignore her but each time my eyes venture to the left side of the computer screen the movements increase.  As they travel to the right, she slows down.  So, now it's a game for me.  Mom is being controlled and I'm the remote control.   Oh, the possibilities.

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's the little things...

I usually dress Mom each morning. Most days I simply have to talk her through each step.I usually I have to actually show her that pants are not a shirt and socks are not her underwear. Sometimes, I have to physically help her with each item. It's easiest to dress her after a shower because I simply have to lay out the clean clothes while hiding everything else.

Today was a good day. She dressed herself. Head to toe, she had everything in the right place. So, out we went to do errands. We were gone about 3 hours. As I was unlocking the front door, I looked down and saw this:  

My dad would have said, "I'll bet she has another pair just like 'em at home."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where is the hope...

Every now and then, I go back and read my previous blog entries.  Sometimes, I don't recognize my own words.  Most of the time, the words take me back to the very feelings that I had while writing.  A couple have made me laugh.  But, overall, I have such a profound feeling of sadness as I read.  Especially, the recent posts, I sound so sad and as if I feel hopeless. 

Early entries didn't shy away from the deep feelings, no matter how negative.  But, they were usually injected with a just a bit of hope.  That hope has been missing recently.  Both, in my words and in my life.  The desperation is so real now.  I shame myself each time I wonder when this journey is going to be over,  I pray for it to be over.  Shame because I am wishing for my mother's life to end.  I can't ask how long must she be forced to live like this, she is not living.  Instead I must ask how long must she suffer?  And, selfishly, how long must we?

But, the biggest shame of all comes from the jealousy I feel when I hear of a victim of this disease finally being given peace.  Yes, I am happy that their fight is over and they are whole before their Father.  But, I am also jealous that their caregivers are at peace, as well.  Through the pain of loss, there has to be some measure of peace.  And that is the hope of this entry. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

The content of my character...

The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do, is what you become.” - Heraclitus

My life has changed a great deal since I made the choice to move my family in here with Mom.  A great deal.  But, one of the biggest changes, is also the one that is most difficult for me to accept: I am nowhere close to the person that I thought I was.

I've always considered myself to be a kind, openhearted and compassionate person. But, each day that I move further into this journey, I realize how far away from that perception of me, that I am traveling. And it hurts. Kindness is not filled with hate. Open hearts do not react with resentment. And compassion does not respond with anger. Yet, hate, resentment and anger describe me far better. Each day that I respond negatively, to the challenges of this situation, is a day that I choose to do so. My choices have led me to what I have become.