Monday Memories With My Mom

The Adventures of Caring for a Mom With Alzheimer's Disease
     I had every intention of posting on Monday, but what can I say?  Time got away from me, and you don't mind if it's actually Wednesday, do you??


     Last Friday I made another visit to see my mom.  It seemed fairly quiet on her floor and I soon noticed my mom was watching TV with another resident.  I kind of snuck behind her and went into her room first so I could check on a few things and hang "my heart" on her door.  I don't know why, but I feel the need to always have her seasonally decorated.  You may recall at her assisted living community she had a "shelf" outside her door for me to decorate.  Now, I pretty much just have the door and when she moved in her roommate had nothing on it even though there is a hook on the door.  So, I have taken it upon myself to do so.  I am actually looking for just one pretty wreath that is not seasonal that I could leave there.  So far, I haven't found what I'm looking for.  The things I have seen usually look very "spring" or "fall" or holiday.
     This is the look I got when my mom saw me coming out of her bedroom...
Why are you coming out of my room? 
What are you doing?
You're my daughter, right?
She did not realize I had snuck in behind her and was surprised to see me coming out of her room!!  I thought it was nice to see just my mom and her friend sitting and watching TV.  I think her friend's name is either Bonnie or they call her "Bunny", but I could be wrong.  I'm so terrible with names!  I can't ask my mom for the names, and I seem to only learn them when I hear the staff using their names. 
     I thought it was cute that they were watching "The Middle" (one of my favorite shows)!!  I pulled up a chair next to my mom and caught up on a couple of old episodes that I had never seen.  It was nice to see my mom seem to understand a lot of the humor in the show and she was quite interested.  Many time during the show I would say "that is my life" and she would chuckle.  At one point, when I tried to take her picture she moved her head so she could still see the show!!  I guess my camera was blocking her, but it made me laugh to see she was that engrossed in the show.  I do wish my mom had a "go to" "bestie" type friend in her nursing community.  Someone that she was excited to see or whose name she knows.  From what I can tell, that is not the case.  Perhaps this day was the beginning of a new friendship!?  I will be on the lookout for that.  It is so hard for them to connect with one another when both are experiencing memory issues.  It does not help that my mom is no longer walking so even if she wanted to start a conversation with someone, she is not mobile enough to make it happen unless they are already right there with her.

Best Friends -- At Least for Today!
      It was right around this point in my visit that I remembered that one of the residents, "Patricia", did not seem to be doing well when I was there a few days earlier.  I mentioned this in my last post.  Her room is directly across the hall from my mom's.  I hesitantly looked over and saw her name was removed from the plaque by the door.  I peeked in and she was not there.  My heart sank.  I am quite sure she has passed away, but I did not have the heart to ask the staff.  They seemed to be having a nice little Friday chat session (which I don't often see them do)...and in my heart I knew the answer and there was no point risking getting the staff upset.  The rest of my visit, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  She was the sweet old lady who was so nice to my when she got back from her week in the hospital in November.  Although she looked much older than my mom, she still did very well in trivia!
     I don't know if it's my imagination, but the halls are seeming emptier to me.  I don't have the heart to walk around and see how many names might be missing from the doorways...  As it is, there are only about 20 residents on my mom's memory care floor.  So, if 20 becomes 15 or 10, you notice.  I am also seeing some new faces.  
     I know, it is winter, they are elderly, many are sick, the flu season is awful...
     But the halls seem quieter, and the winter always seems longer.  I am again reminded how fragile life is.  I feel I am always walking the fine line between making sure I'm living mine (as my mom would want) and helping my mom make the best of her life.  Perhaps I am just feeling it more today than usual.  Today I checked in on a fellow blogger who somehow stumbled upon my blog a few months ago.  The title of her post was "My Last Post".  This week I also saw the movie "Still Alice" after reading the book years ago.  It is the movie where Julianne Moore plays Alice, a woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (more on that next week).  I learned another blogger friend is saying her goodbyes to her sweet mom who has Alzheimer's Disease.  Add to this my awareness that another friend is coming upon the first anniversary of her mother's death.  Tonight these things are weighing heavy on my heart, and although I know this is not a happy thing to be blogging about, it is a very real thing.  I can't help but feel for each of them.  I write this if for no other reason than to remind myself and, perhaps, some of you that each day truly is a gift!!
     I will continue to treasure each visit with my mom and, as always, all of my goodbyes will end with a kiss and an "I love you" -- and I even get a "love you, too" back.
Happy Valentine's Day -- Counting our Blessings,




Kim said...

Sigh.....it's not an easy disease. I know how you felt when you saw the missing name plate. I remember that feeling so many times after months at the hospital. You walk by rooms and see the same faces and then one day the bed is empty.
That fact that your Mom can still focus on tv and even laugh during the show is really great. There is a lot of her still in there.
Hugs to you and you Mom. Happy Valentines Day Cindy

Kerri said...

I can't think of a harder thing to watch a loved one go through than alzheimers. I think you do a wonderful job caring for your mom...and she would be so proud of you for bringing light to the subject through your blog for others. Your mom must still have a sense of humor...the Middle is hilarious! We've never missed an episode- it's our favorite! :)

Julia said...

My heart feels heavy just reading your post today.
I'm missing my mom who died of cancer in 2009, another ugly disease who took her away from us too soon.

Continue doing what you do. You're doing well.


yaya said...

You poured your heart and soul into this post. It really touched me. You're a wonderful daughter and I'm glad you can have these special moments with your Mom. Now I need to go call mine just to tell her I love her!