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Archive for September, 2012

I knew taking mom to buy a dress for the wedding this early could pose a problem.  Like a child, she gets very excited about things and wants that instant gratification.  She is excited about the dress.  She is excited about the prospect of wearing the dress and looking beautiful.  But we needed to find her a dress and I felt like we should get it done early.  We were fortunate in that we found a dress at the first place we went on our first outing.  What great luck!  It could have been a very different story.  But we now have a dress and therein lies the problem…

Recently when I showed up for my daily visit she asked, “Well, are you ready for the wedding?”  If this question would have come from anyone else I would not have thought twice about it, but coming from mom it gave me pause.  Hum, what did she mean?  Is she simply asking if I am prepared for the upcoming wedding or did she think the wedding was that night?  “Almost mom,” I answered.  A short time later she asked, “Do you have to go home and wash your hair?”  At that point I knew what she was thinking, but still wasn’t ready to acknowledge it.  “I washed my hair this morning,” I said.  “Oh, so you’ll just have to go home and fix it,” was her response.  I just smiled.

I guess she was bothered that I was still at her house and not getting ready for the wedding when she asked, “Don’t you need to go get ready for the wedding?”  I finally had to tell her that the wedding wasn’t for another month and a half.  “Oh,” she responded, looking confused.

I often wonder what goes through her mind at times like that.  She must be terribly confused.  She was so certain that the wedding was that night.  How can one’s mind process the fact that things you believe to be true are actually not.  That the wedding you believe to be that night is actually a month and a half away, or that the person you see standing before you so vividly is actually not there?  It is no wonder that she has become so quiet, saying very little.  How is she to know what is real or what is not, what is there and what is not, what is true and what is false?  It pains me to see my mother in a constant state of confusion, but yet there is little I can do but love and support her.  And I do.  I love you mom.

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My future daughter-in-law had a bridal shower recently and I offered to drive mom there.  The day before the shower I received a message on my phone from dad asking, “Can you come early to do something with your mother’s hair?  Her perm didn’t take and her hair is a mess.  All she knows how to do is pick it, but that doesn’t help.”  My first thought was, oh crap, I’m terrible with hair.  I can barely do my own!  But unable to say no, I agreed.

The day of the shower my daughter offered to go in my place.  “I’ll give her a day of beauty – hair, make-up and a mani/pedi,” she offered.  When she arrived mom only wanted to sleep.  She finally agreed to having her hair done and sat sleepy-eyed in front of the mirror.  As my daughter curled and combed mom began to perk up.  Soon she was looking at herself, admiring what she saw.

“Do you want me to do your make-up now, Granny,” my daughter asked.  Mom agreed.  Once her hair and make-up were done mom sat admiring herself in the mirror.  “I look so good!” she exclaimed.  Excited about the results mom readily agreed to have her fingernails and toenails painted.  My daughter then presented mom to dad saying, “Here’s Granny!”  Dad whistled and winked, making a big deal over how lovely mom looked.  My mother grinned and pranced around.  “I better be careful.  I don’t want someone stealing you from me,” dad commented.

By this time mom was happy and feeling good about herself.  She was a trooper and hung in there for the entire shower.

My daughter later described the afternoon to me, telling me how mom slowly went from a disinterested, exhausted woman to an excited, proud lady.  As my daughter transformed mom back into the person she remembered, mom sat  watching my daughter with love in her eyes.  She could feel my mother’s love surround her. 

That small act of kindness on my daughter’s part turned into a very special time between grandmother and granddaughter.  I know my daughter will always remember and treasure that time.  I hope my mother remembers that moment as well.

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Dad called me a few minutes ago to report his newest concern.  “During the night I heard a strange noise.  When I got up I found your mom with the car keys in her hand going out the door.  She wanted to go for a ride,”  he told me.  Just what we need!   It’s been a couple of years since mom has driven.  Her driver’s license is no longer valid and she never even mentions wanting to drive.  “Oh no, dad, I guess you’re going to have to hide the keys,” I responded.  “I know.  I put the keys in my pillowcase and slept on them the rest of the night.  I just wanted you to know what I have to worry about now.” 

My poor dad.  He is worried.  He is confused.  He is exhausted.   Pray for him.

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I took mom shopping for a dress for my son’s wedding. Despite what she’s been through, despite the dementia that is eating away at her brain and her memory, mom is still a very proud woman.

When I arrived to pick her up, dad asked me to help mom select a pair of  shoes from her closet for our shopping trip.   I suggested that she wear the practical diabetic shoes that the doctor wants her to wear.  “They’re ugly,” mom said crinkling up her nose.  I laughed and then chose a cute pair of sandals that I thought she’d be comfortable in.  She then refused dad’s suggestion that she bring her walker, because it makes her look old.

When we were ready to go I asked mom where she wanted to shop, suggesting several clothing stores nearby.  “Dillard’s,” mom replied, which of course is in the mall across town.  “Well since we are going to the mall and you will have to do a lot of walking maybe we should take the walker,” I suggested.  Surprisingly she agreed.  I loaded up mom and the walker and away we went.

On the way mom spotted a Smoothie King.  “Ooh, I want a smoothie,” mom exclaimed.  “Sounds good mom, we’ll get one after we shop,” knowing full well I’d get nothing out of her once she got her reward.  “I’d rather take a beating than do this,” mom remarked.  “Really, mom?  We used to have so much fun shopping together.  We’ll have fun,” I responded.

After some struggles I got mom and the walker out of the car and up to the second floor where the dresses are.  Luckily the walker has a bench seat on it so mom was able to rest as the walk left her winded.  I began looking for suitable dresses and bringing them to her.  Some she liked, but she did not hesitate to tell me when she didn’t like others.  The one thing I did notice was that mom didn’t seem to remember her age and size since most of the dresses she selected for herself were much too young-looking, too short and of a clingy fabric.  I handled that by saying, “Oh, that’s lovely mom.  Too bad they don’t have your size.”

When I came upon a smokey blue, tea-length dress with a short jacket mom got excited.  “I love that color!” she exclaimed.  We took several dresses into the dressing room and mom tried the smokey blue one on first.  It fit perfectly.  After discretely checking to be sure the ostomoy didn’t show through, I proclaimed the dress to be perfect, telling her that it made her eyes appear an even deeper shade of blue.  It was the only one of its kind on the floor and it was in mom’s size.  How lucky was that?  God was looking out for us.

We then headed off to the shoe department.  We decided that silver shoes would be perfect.  Knowing mom’s balance has not been good lately, I suggested several pairs of flats, but she insisted on a shoe with a heel.  A very kind salesperson assisted us, showing us a silver shoe with a very small wedge heel.  The shoe fit well, but mom insisted on trying a dressier pair with a pointed heal.  She could barely stand, legs wobbling around.  “I think the other pair would be better,” she said and I agreed.  We happily exited the mall with the lovely dress and shoes.  Mom was happy and so was I.

Before her bottom hit the seat of the car she was asking for that smoothie so away we went.  Mom suggested that we get one for dad also to surprise him so we got one for each of us. 

“We better get back, mom, I bet dad is getting worried about us,” I said.

“No, he’s just happy he doesn’t have to take care of me right now.  You had to take care of me,” was her response.

“I wasn’t taking care of you mom.  We were just two women out shopping together, like old times.  Next time we’ll do lunch too,” I said.    Mom smiled, happily slurping her smoothie all the way home.

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