Friday, January 25, 2013
It's been 7 days since I last wrote for this blog. Which can mean good or bad things are happening. Or nothing is happening. And nothing really has been happening…. Until today.
Last night Dad brought up that Mom needs to go see the doctor, more directly I need to set up a doctor's appointment. We had discussed switching doctors for mom. But after mom's reaction, we'll stick with the one we have. It's not that I don't like him or that mom doesn't like him. To the contrary, she adores him. It's cute to see her flirt with him. He's very kind and jokes with her. It's his office that I don't like. The billing department pissed me off months ago. See "Take the Damn Payment" for further information. Since then, they've not called me once for payment. They learn fast there.
Today while we were out shopping mom brought up the doctor again. This was our conversation as we were walking out of Wal-Mart.
"Dad says I have to go to the doctor. He says I need to be seen." Her tone is sullen, like a teenager that doesn't want to take a test. She is twirling her DumDum sucker in her fingers while she says this.
"Yes mom, you need to get your meds refilled. We need new prescriptions to mail in." I hold my arm out but she will not take it.
"Dad says my heart numbers need to be checked." She said while walking in the middle of the aisle of the parking lot.
"I know your blood work needs to be done and that your blood pressure needs to be evaluated." I wave at her to get her to come closer to me. It doesn't work. She will not look at me. I try to keep the patience in my voice.
"But I don't want them to do those memory tests. Those are useless. Why do I need to be able to remember words?" she is now veering even farther away from me and a car is coming at us.
"Mom can you help me with the cart? I gotta get my keys out." I try to look like I can't do both things at once. She comes over by me to direct the cart but as soon as my keys are out, she's working her way back to the middle of the aisle.
"I don't want to see anyone new. Just take me to the one. You know that guy." She looks at me with a pleading in her eyes.
"Yes mom, I'll take you to see Dr. Blah Blah (name omitted for privacy). Will you please stop walking in the middle, that car is trying to get past you. NOW mom!" I let go of the cart and go grab her arm to steer her towards my car and the cart.
"Oh…." She looks around. "I didn't even see him. He could have honked at me."
When she said that I thought to myself, "yeah and I'd be dialing 911 cause that'd scare the piss right outta ya but would save me having your heart checked" but I know better and did not say this thought aloud.
She got in the car by herself, which in itself is a feat. I was grateful the driver of the car didn't honk or cuss as her when he got out. I gave him a gracious smile and he returned it with a nod. I know my mom doesn't want to see a new doctor because that means talking about her dementia. She knows this doctor already and is comfortable with him. I have put her mind at ease that there won't be a new doctor.
But as I put the cart away I couldn't help but think I am a mom. I am a mom to a 68 year old. Taking her shopping is harder than taking a four year old to the store. At least you can plop their ass in the cart and buckle them in. Wouldn't that be a sight… a 68 year old woman in the cart with a DumDum sucker in her mouth telling me about her ambulance driving days. LOL
Thursday, January 17, 2013
I feel bad. I shouldn't have chuckled. I know when Dad reads this, he'll probably give me that "eat shit and die" look when he gets home from work. But it cracked me up. I'm sorry… it just did.
Today was a good day for mom. She listened to her audio book and watched "Numbers" and "The Bells of St. Mary's". I even got her to watch a few episodes of "Clean House" with me. (I love that show!) We also took Dad to lunch today. I had errands to run and it was such a beautiful day it was a great way to get all of us (the dog too) out of the house for a few hours.
We got home from running my three errands and mom said she just wanted to "stare at the TV and not have to think too much." I could tell she was tired but she will never admit it. It can be extremely annoying to see her be so tired and refuse to take a nap. I digress. I turned on an episode of "Numbers" and she looked at me and said "I miss my husband." I believe she does during the day. Some days more than others. But today when she said it, it had an under tone to it. One I hadn't heard in awhile.
I went to lay down for 45 minutes due to a stupid headache. As I lay there I could hear her talking to herself. She thinks I am not listening or that I am ignoring her. "I hate being left alone. Why do they leave me alone? They always tell me No and leave me alone." I didn't get up to comfort her. I have heard these ramblings before and have learnt that there are days I can not make her feel better. Today was one of those. I knew by her tone she had gone in to her snarky, tired, neglected mood. I wasn't going to be able to make it right. I do not feel bad that I took a nap.
When I woke up, the TV was silent and she was wandering the kitchen. I asked if she'd like to watch her movie or something else. The movie won, which meant I had roughly two hours to myself. I made the bed, I played on the computer and I thought. There was something about the way she had said she was missing my dad that was nagging at my mind. As I played "Words with Friends" it hit me. There was a bit of jealousy and a bit of something more. Not anger, but something. I can't tell you with a word what it is. It's something my mom has always been good at. It's the tone she uses, the attitude behind the words that will make you stop and wonder. I keep wanting to call it revenge but that word implies a wrong was done.
You see Dad told us at lunch he'd be home late. No big deal, at least not to me. If he needs to go to a work thing, so be it. I've been in corporate America and understand that even if you don't want to go, you go. You have to do those things to show you're a team player and that the company matters. You go. I get it. But mom, she's never gotten that. When it was just her and Dad, he wouldn't stay too long. He'd go, but not for long. Now that I'm here, he can go as long as he likes. He doesn't drink so I don't worry about him driving. I think it's good for him to go out and do these type of things. But not mom. She gets jealous that she's not with him. I used to think she was just nosy As I grew up I saw she was much more insecure than I thought. In my opinion she doesn't think he should do anything without her but go to work. She and I used to argue about me having a girl's night out when I was married. She said there is nothing good to come of it. I never understood why it wasn't okay. I still disagree with her. I'm all for a GNO for the sake of keeping one's own sanity.
Dad got home at 7:15. Mom was glad to have him home. At 7:50 she went to bed. She was tired, it was all over her face and she kept nodding off. At 8:30 Dad went to bed. And not 5 minutes later I heard her voice from their bedroom down the hall. I laughed. I knew it was going to happen. It's her way of showing she's mad I guess. She starts a conversation the minute your head hits the pillow. No matter how exhausted you are, she wants to talk and if you ignore her she just talks louder. She pinched me to keep me awake the one time I tried to ignore her. (She was staying with me in WI while I dealt with my depression and I had worked two hours later than expected.) When she feels you've given her enough attention, she'll stop. But don't try to stop her before she's ready, that only leads to more talking or even to an argument that can last for hours. It's her version of the penalty box.
I hope Dad wasn't as tired as I think he was. She talked, loudly, for at least 20 minutes to him about the woman who died that she knew. I feel for him. But I laughed. I'm still chuckling. Dementia is changing my mom. Just not all of her yet….
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Today mom is sitting in "her" living room. The sun is shining brightly through the window and she is soaking it up. I hooked up her stereo the other day and now she can listen to her CD's while enjoying the sun and view. She loves music. She always has. I've noticed that listening to the radio can confuse her now. She'll hear something on the news snippets and not understand it. Then she asks me about it. I don't listen to the radio in the morning. That's something her and dad do before they get out of bed. They've done that for the majority of their 45 years together.( I tried doing that, but I have a tendency to fall back to sleep if I stay in bed. LOL) To give her music without the talk, it's CD's in her 400 CD player and she's happy. She doesn't own 400 cd's, but I do- if not more. I have it about 1/3 full. I will continue to load it with music I know she will enjoy: Reba, King George, Garth, classic country artists like Vern Gosdin, George Jones, Conway, Patsy Cline; IL Divo, Michael Buble, Rod Stewart. Oh and I can't forget her favorite song, "I'm Sexy and I know it!" by LMFAO. She sings this on her sassy days and cracks me up.
I have shared my eclectic taste of music with mom over the years. She doesn't see the point in some of it, but when she does like something she lets me know. I have shared Nickelback (I don't want to hear it- I like 'em- let it go!), Kelly Clarkson, Gregorian Chants, System of a Down, Pat Green, Eric Church and soundtracks to some of my favorite movies- Runaway Bride, Dance with Me, The Wedding Date, An Officer and A Gentleman. Now she doesn't like the rock, but she does like anything country and some of the pop songs. She doesn't get CeeLo Green. And she really doesn't get rap. That's okay. I listen to it on my iPod downstairs. If we're on a road trip and she's awake, I skip the ones she doesn't like. She is a mom after all and I really don't want to hear how bad it is to hear cuss words in songs. She strongly dislikes Buckcherry's song "Crazy Bitch." Of course I love that song.
What I adore most about mom's love of music is her desire to dance. I get my love of dancing from her side of the family. She's polish and if you've ever been to a good old fashion polish wedding you'll understand. They love to polka and dance! Her dad, Grandpa L, used to put me on his knee and bounce me to the sounds of polka. I grew up listening to "She's too fat for me", "Who Stole the Kiska" and "In Heaven There is No Beer." I know all the words and can't help moving my feet to them. I learned how to polka from my mom and her brother, my godfather. I took to it like a duck to water. When mom hears these songs she grins and moves with them too. I know they bring back fond memories of her father for her. We have great memories of weddings and polkas.
Because of my mom's love of dance, she always told me to marry a man that can dance. She didn't. Dad has "lead in his ass and his feet" is what's she's always said. But he always slow danced with her at every wedding or party. One of my fondest childhood memories is of seeing them dancing in the kitchen to an oldie. I grew up wanting a husband that would do the same. My first husband… his version of a slow dance was awkward. We never fit right. I have an ex-boyfriend that I fell in love with on our first date because we danced together. I thought I'd marry him. Dancing we were perfect together. Goals of life and passions…. So far apart no dance was able to save us. My ideal man has changed as I've aged, but I still want someone who will walk into the kitchen or laundry room, and take me in his arms and dance with me.
Music has always been part of life for Tony and I. I grew up falling asleep to the radio. Now I have a playlist on my iPod that is titled "Sleepytime" that I can't sleep without. When Tony was told his cancer was terminal, he gave me a list of songs to play at his funeral. And we talked about songs he would send me as signs. He does when I need him most. Mom has discussed with me some of the songs she'd like played. She wants to be remembered with music. I like this idea very much. Just as I liked it for Tony. She wants "In Heaven There is No Beer", "Sexy and I know it", a few Reba songs and a few older ones. I'm working with her on the list.
Which of course leads me to think about how I want to be remembered in song. So here's a few that I think I'd like to have my loved ones remember me with.
- "Love is Never Ending" by Brad Paisley- the title says it all.
- "I believe" by Diamond Rio- because I do believe in angels and signs.
- "Remember Me" by Kenny Rogers (others have sang it to)- again, the title says it all
- "Bare Necessities" from the Jungle Book- This movie is an all time favorite of mine. This is my favorite song from the movie. If I'm watching the movie I will dance in my chair to it. If I hear it on my iPod, I dance to it. It brings out the child in me. I will forever be a child at heart and hope to remind others that it's a good thing.
- "She's Too Fat for Me" by Frank Yankovic- it's not politically correct and it's my favorite polka.
- "How You Ever Gonna Know" by Garth Brooks- this is a song I turn to when I doubt myself. It reminds me that unless I take a chance I'll never know what might have been. I want to be remembered for not being too scared to try.
- "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry- This is a feel good, dance to it song. It’s a happy song and I'd like to think I'll be remembered for being happy and silly.
- "Find out Who You're Friends Are" by Tracy Lawrence- he's my favorite and this song is my life. I have true blue friends who'd be there in a minute. I hope they feel the same about me.
- "The Holes That He Dug" by Tracy Lawrence- this song is all about not judging another person. I've tried my very best to live by this song.
- "I Came Here to Live" by Trace Adkins- at the end of my life I want people to remember I came here to live. To try. To fail. To try again. To learn. To love. To LIVE!
What songs would you like your loved ones to remember you with?
Memories can be made with music. Music is profound. It is silly. It is deep. It is shallow. It is country, rock, alternative, hip-hop, rap, classical. It is sad and happy. It is romantic. It is revenge. IT IS LOVE!
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
I received two greeting cards in the mail today. There is nothing quite like going to your mailbox and finding cards, not bills. It is an instant smile maker. It lifts ones spirits immeasurably. And it makes the receiver think of the sender with kind thoughts.
I am a HUGE fan of the written letter. A card signed with a personal note. Thought put into the perfect words to let someone know you are thinking about them. There's nothing that compares to that. A phone call is nice and easy. A text, way too easily misunderstood. But putting pen to paper, expressing one's thoughts and feelings, that takes time and effort. It has become a lost art.
One of the best memories of my mom will be the cards she sent to me while we were a few cities or a thousand miles apart. As the disease is progressing she's lost her ability to put pen to paper in the form of a letter. Don't get me wrong, she can still write and does. But it's on post-it notes all over with random thoughts that only make sense to her when she writes them. Yesterday I found two that she had made grocery lists on. I have no idea how old they are because the things on them are things she asks for every day.
I used to get a card for my birthday, holidays- big or small, or just because. Those were my favorites; the ones that she slipped a $20 in so I could get myself the new book I wanted. Or get my nails done. Or whatever I had told her I was short on funds to do or get. Every card was always signed "Love you Gert, Mom". (She's called me Gert or Gertie since I was young. I don't know where it came from, but it stuck.)
I picked up her love of greeting cards. I enjoy browsing the card aisle looking for the perfect one. I send thank you cards, sympathy cards, birthday cards, thinking of you cards, smart ass cards, get well cards. Well, I used to. I've resolved this year I'm getting back in to the habit. I have a great stock pile of cards thanks to mom. Her shoebox of cards is now mine. I am happy to put them to good use.
I may never get a spontaneous card from mom again. But she will from me. When she gets mail, it's like Christmas for her. I will slip one in the mail for her every once in awhile. I want to make her smile.
I wish her friends would send them more often. But as is par for the course with dementia patients, her friends don't reach out to her anymore. They send me the card to show their support instead. I do appreciate it don't get me wrong. What I don't enjoy is having to hide my mail from her, because if by chance she notices who the card is from it hurts her that the card or note isn't for her.
It's sad how as her memory is disappearing so are some of the connections she relied on. Now she looks to me to fill the void. So I read her my cards when I can. I mailed out a lot of Christmas cards in the hopes we'd get a lot in return. We got 1/3. Not bad really, but I wish it had been more. Again, it's a lost art.
I'm blessed with great friends and family who understand phone calls and texts can be hard for me to do right now. Instead they're sending me cards with personal notes. And I'm loving it. I'm vowing to make those personal connections with those I love, they deserve my time and effort. It takes no more time than watching a sitcom on TV. Plus it's much more engaging for the brain. I'm doing my part to revive a lost art. For the price of a stamp you can too!
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
After last night I need to set a lighter tone for today's blog. So here we go…
- "Who won?" asked of me after she sat in the bleachers the entire JV football game. Luckily we won. Mom was only there to support her cheerleader in 1992.
- "KC go home yet?" said to my dad, while she was sleeping, on a road trip from Texas to Wisconsin to see Tony in July 1995. KC was my boyfriend and he was driving at the time. He and I chuckled for the rest of the trip over that one.
- "I'm going to have your dad drop you off at Christian Mingle!" said to me after seeing the dating site's commercial in November of 2012. Every time she see their commercial now, she looks and at me and burst into giggles.
- "When you're pissed up you can't talk right!" said to me just yesterday (Dec 31, 2012) after I stumbled over a word after being pissed off at a commercial. She and I laughed so hard we snorted!
- "It's EGG SALAD! Now shut the hell up!" yelled at me after she sat straight up, while still asleep, when I asked Dad what kind of sandwich he got at the gas station we'd stopped at on another road trip from Texas to Wisconsin. "It's Tuna!" Dad said to me and with that he and I cracked up for a good five minutes.
- "Don't be so rude Tony!" said in that wonderful angry mom tone to Tony after he answered her previous question, "So are you two sexually active?". Tony's reply was the truth, "Yep, every day and twice on Sunday!" She never believed him when he was that honest. I was in a fit of giggles for the entire day. Tony was in deep shit with this girlfriend, who slapped him as she stood next to him when he answered mom. Tony and I laughed over that one for years.
- "Did you wash your crack?" said to my dad as she used his lap for a pillow. Tony and I were talking with Dad about whatever and suddenly mom asked her question. Tony was driving and he was laughing so hard he almost hit a guardrail. Dad was laughing so hard his belly was shaking which upset her and she told him to "Knock it off." I had tears running down my face. She denies this remark was ever made just as she does all the others she's made while asleep.
- "It's very important to always be clean!" said to my niece (who was 20) and I while the three of us sat on the floor of the new apartment and enjoyed Sonic chili and cheese hot dogs with mustard. As soon as the words passed mom's lips the last bite of her hotdog fell out of the bun on to her pants and on to the new carpet leaving yellow and brown stains at every bounce. My niece and I cracked up and the rest of my niece's visit we kept telling Grandma how important it is to be clean. My niece and I even threatened to get hotdogs tattooed on our ankles in her honor.
- "I'm not your mom!" said to me in frustration in the bathroom of my house in Wisconsin in May 2010. I was doing my makeup and had my empty coffee cup on the counter. Mom was pestering me about it so I told her if she didn't like it there she could put it in the kitchen. She meant to say "I'm not your maid". I of course gave her nothing but hell for the next few days of her visit by saying that's why the boys always told me I came out of the cabbage patch. Some days she remembers that she's "not my mom!" and we end up in giggles.
And in first place, my favorite one of all time:
- "What's the difference between a Giant timeout and a regular timeout? " asked while Dad and I
watched the Dallas Cowboys play the New York Giants on some Sunday in 1997 or 1998. I could not answer because I was laughing so hard that I had an asthma attack. Dad pulled it together enough to answer her, "That's the team that called the timeout." Then he went back to laughing. We have not let her live this one down yet. I even won tickets to see Jeff Dunham in Dec. 2010 thanks to this story!
These are the memories that I am choosing to keep. This is how I will laugh through the tears after she's gone.