This evening I ended up at the mall with Mom after I had just spent almost 12 hours listening to her complain and argue. But, at the mall we were, handling a small emergency situation that came up. As we were standing and waiting for the person that we were there to help, Mom was in her normal, agitated mood. She was trying to flag strangers down, yelling at me that "he" was getting away, looking around wildly for my nonexistent son. The only thing that usually works in this situation is to leave. Well, it doesn't really work, it just makes it stop being an attention getter. But, we couldn't leave at that point, so we were making the best of it.
While we were standing, a woman approached Mom and said, "Do you have a problem? What's wrong?" I smiled and explained that Mom has Alzheimer's and she's just upset. While that answer usually takes care of the situation, tonight it didn't. It created a new problem, at least, for me. When the woman heard the word Alzheimer's, that was it. She knew all of the answers. After all, she used to care for a woman who had Alzheimer's. She said, "Is your Mom 101? No? Then you don't know how easy you have it. Here's what you do." 10 minutes later she was still telling me what to do. I should be rubbing my Mom's feet. I need to be brushing my mom's hair until she tells me to stop. I should "yes, Ma'am" her until the cows come home. I should make her the queen of my life.
Part of me stood there and listened to this woman and thought, "If it was only this easy." And that part of me left the mall feeling like the worst daughter ever. I would be less than honest if I said that the only queen my mom makes me think of is the one with a poison apple in her hand.
It has taken me a couple of hours to calm that feeling. It's still lurking, but it isn't overwhelming any longer. That woman was hired to take care of a stranger who was far enough into the disease that the ability to speak was gone. Yes, I'm sure that at that point, rubbing feet and brushing hair would be comforting. But, my mother has a voice and it isn't kind. Even the gentlest of touch is met with accusations and screams of pain.
I hate this disease. I hate that I have allowed it to question myself and my abilities to the point that I come up lacking. I know in my heart that I am not the best person to be doing this for my mother. But, I also know I am the only one she has and that I am doing the best that I can with what I have to work with. Luckily, I never have to treat Mom like a queen. A duchess? Maybe.