Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas for Mom

Christmas seems like one of those things that are big enough to work in the ALZ world.  Big enough to remember.  Celebrated from birth by my mom - so that should still be in her wheelhouse, right?

Not so fast there bub!  Christmas is almost too big.  It's so confusing - some times of the day mom is 12, sometimes she's 17, sometimes she's 82, sometimes she's 40 - and all of those ages come with something.  Something that was missing at our home.

She spent most of the day in her younger years and that meant Grandma Perry coming to pick her up.  She kept asking and it broke my heart.  How do you tell someone that their loved one has been gone for 50+ years?  Especially on Christmas.  The older years meant that she was still independent - she had sent me money and was off to "do her own thing" with her peers.  We don't have any of those here.  The 40 year old Christmas only appeared once.  I think she thought my daughter was me - we were handing out presents and Peyton was sitting closest to mom, so she gave her all of her gifts from under the tree.   It was the kindest I've ever seen mom act towards her granddaughter.  Her smile was genuine and she seemed to feel like she was a part of our family.  It was pretty awesome!

The gifts were a bust.  Not at first - she loved them all, but then they were unwrapped and taken back into her room and "where did these come from" became the favorite question of the day.  She devoured the chocolate and other candy in her stocking, but the other gifts are stacked in her chair - and she is quite suspicious of them and their origin.

I fancied myself brilliant with a Shutterfly book of memories from mom's first year here - with our faces, our places, our names, charmingly-worded explanations that might help her remember things and lots of pictures of her and Sophie - her two favorite things.  She loved it.  She took her time, she read every page, she smiled and then she wrapped it back up in the wrapping paper and took it to her room and set it down with the other things.

I keep trying to slip it into the basket of her walker - thinking she will start to think it "belongs" in there and will look at it often and it will help her or entertain her or comfort her or be a companion of sorts.

I'm not giving up, mind you, but my goodness, this is a bigger task than I imagined.  She has a mind of her own and she DOES NOT WANT to have Alzheimer's.  She has been fighting it by ignoring it and lying about it and punching it in the face for as long as I can remember - easily a dozen years.  Maybe this little memory book is too much of a reminder of what she doesn't remember.

I think that's the problem with Christmas...she is sad, mad, angry, frustrated, embarrassed that she can't remember if Christmas has come or gone or what year it is or did she go shopping or ... well, so many things.  So Christmas was something to ignore, brush off, discount, be disgusted with.

I am torn.  I love our home at Christmas.  I love the decorations and the way everything looks in twinkly lights.  The kids love it too.  I am raising a couple of big Christmas nerds, just like their mother!  But I will breathe a sigh of relief when I get to put it all away.  And mom won't know it's gone or that it was ever there, but she will be just a little bit happier and a little bit more at ease, even though she won't know why.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Where do Christmas Memories go?

Of all things - a quick dusting of my mantel reminded me how cruel Alzheimer's is.  I love Christmas - not really the gifts - that's my least favorite part.  But I love the rest of it...the season, the awe of the birth of Christ, the lights, the wonder, the decorations, the traditions, the music, the colder weather, the cookies, the treats, the Peppermint shakes, the smiles for no reason, the stories, the memories - and even the shopping for and wrapping of gifts.  I even managed to enjoy the ridiculous traffic around the mall yesterday!

Probably my all-time favorite thing is the memories that nearly all of my ornaments and decorations bring back.  I love unpacking the boxes.  I love positioning the ornaments that have the best 'stories' or have the most history in prime spots on my tree.  I make the kids listen to the stories - hoping to give them their own memories to make their Christmases more magical. 

I have a decoration that I made in the basement of Lima First United Methodist Church in Sunday School for my mom when I was 4 or 5 years old.  It's so ugly it's sweet - like some of those dogs you see on tv!  It's barely holding together.  It's simple and made from an old wooden spool, some tin foil, a green pipe cleaner and red construction paper.  It's supposed to be a poinsettia.  It has a really old-fashioned cardboard gift tag (probably some that were so awful they were donated to the church by someone who bought something cuter!) with my name written in pencil!  And I remember every single Christmas that my mom put it out on our piano from the time I was about 12.  I hated that thing - it was so ugly!  I didn't understand why she kept it.  My mom was famous for getting rid of old things - she never kept clothes from her youth, we had no antiques in our house, she was Goodwill's best friend - no chance of Peg ending up on Hoarders!  But she kept that old, frail, simple decoration and she put it out with the best, shiniest, newest decorations every single year. 

I get it now.  I have an entire tree in our bedroom dedicated to handmade ornaments - some made by me, some by my friends, but most made by my kids in their classrooms or at our kitchen table.  I love all of them.  I look at the dates and the kids names on the back or their pictures on the front and my heart fills all the way up with love and Christmas.

I have the old poinsettia on my mantle this year - it's place of honor since I was able to rescue mom's Christmas decorations from the basement in Shawnee after her husband passed. 

I put it in her hands this year - hopeful of a memory for us to share.  Nothing.  She smiled - she likes Christmas too and she likes to be included in anything we do.  But no memory.  No flashback.  No magical Christmas moment for me and mom.  I'm the keeper of that memory now.  I am passing it down to my kids and when the time comes I hope one of them will be enough like me that the only thing they will really want after I am gone is a big red box of handmade ornaments wrapped in tissue paper with names and years and faded photos.  And they will open it up every year, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and tell their kids stories of Christmases when they were kids and maybe tell them how much I loved Christmas ... as they put the poinsettia in a place of honor on their mantel. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Seemed like a good idea at the time...

So, in an effort to make everyone feel like this home is their home - in other words - to give everyone a chance to do what they want in a place they are comfortable without all of us stacked on top of one another, we moved mom's tv into the red room.

Let me preface the story with another story...back in mid-to-late-September, mom got bothered by the green light on the wireless modem that controls her cable and couldn't be quieted down.  She had convinced herself that it was going to set her room on fire in the middle of the night, so we ended up unplugging her MID-TO-LATE SEPTEMBER (aka 90 days ago!!!).

I brought up the idea of moving her tv into the red room, where she loves to sit and look out our front window.  Mom finds the strangers and cars on our street much more interesting than our family playing in the back yard...sigh...  I thought this would be a way to allow the kids some time to watch their shows and play video games in our family room and still allow mom to keep her routine.  Seemed like the day we put up her Christmas tree would be the perfect day since we had to move things around and clean anyway.

I have never been more wrong.  She was pissed!  She was confused (which I expected), she was bothered (which I also expected) and she was pissed!  She brought out some unpleasant faces, words, comments, body language and attitude to show her displeasure.  We lasted 3 days.  It ended badly for mom and for me.  It made my husband mad, it entertained the kids.  She was so mad that she even decided that we were punishing her by putting a Christmas tree in her room.  It's upstairs in my hallway now and it's beautiful.  I remember how much she used to love her tree.  Love is not a factor for mom anymore.  Pleasure and joy are off the table.  She just wants to be right and to argue til she has alienated herself from everyone else.  It's heartbreaking and sadly, it is sometimes hard to remember that this is one of those "that's just how it is" things and it does no good to be angry or frustrated.  It is what it is.

Anyway, the tv is back in it's place and for now, it's plugged in.  She actually went in there and watched the Today show this morning so my family and I could watch a show just the 4 of us.  It was unpleasant getting it arranged, but after she got mad, made every effort to portray herself as the victim and me as the villain, after I used up all the patience I could muster and finally just walked out - we enjoyed a 30 minute show together.  We layed all over our furniture with our jammies on and blankets and the dog and the volume only at 15 instead of 30 (which is starting to beat me down day after day).  It was worth the effort.

I am assuming we are going to have to have more of these confrontations to get more of these family moments, but it really is worth it.  You see, when your loved one has advanced Alzheimer's, you can't set rules, you can't leave notes, you can't use a white board, you can't have conversations, you can't reason and you can't expect them to be empathetic.  You just have to decide that you are keeping them safe and out of a nursing home and that they aren't losing weight and you are sure they are taking their medications in the right doses and on time, they are cleaner, fresher, better cared for and loved.  You have to remember that the past is lost - for both of you - and can never be fixed or apologized for or made right and the break through you dreamed of is just not going to happen.  You have to remember how tough this must be on the people you love the most, that God is probably giving you a blessing that will change your lives for the better at some point here or in Heaven and that they are worth the fight.  So she's going to get pissed, she's going to make you feel like a bad person - but I'm not.  And she isn't suffering, she's sick. 

But 30 minutes alone with my family is worth any fight and as with so many things with mom, she may start to think that's how it's "supposed" to be and she'll retreat into her space more often.  I guess we'll wait and see.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day 18

My intent is never to be cruel or to focus only on what is a struggle, but sometimes the stories I feel the need to tell are the stories that are based in a behavior that is really hard for me to deal with.  Especially to LIVE with.

Mom's new thing is to start every day, not with a "Good Morning" or an observation on the weather or a question about what day it is...her new thing is to say something negative. 

Obviously, I noticed it the first time it happened, but after 3, and then 4, days in a row of negative "openers", I began to count them.  Today was Day 18....or should I say DAY EIGHTEEN?! 

It's hard.  It's especially hard on a Saturday when I know that I had to set an alarm to wake up before my family so mom can stay on her schedule.  To have to make 2 breakfasts so mom can stay on her schedule.  To eat with mom and not my family so mom can stay on her schedule.  It's hard when the first words you hear are ugly.

Today's "opener" was "Why is it so cold in here?  Don't they (always cracks me up - the reference to 'they' and 'them') ever turn on the heat?"

Our electric bill has jumped up an average of 36% since mom moved in.  She requires a lot of light and noise.  She does not have the ability to turn on the tv or the lights by herself, so if I have to run out or if I am going to be upstairs doing something with the kids, I set up all the rooms she likes to go in the way she likes them.  I have never been so happy to see the weather turn cooler - no more AC (a nightmare to my electric bill!).  I vowed I would not turn the heater on until the first frost if I can help it.  I washed and gave mom my favorite red Martha Stewart blanket.  Washed and hung out her coziest robes, slippers and nightgowns.  Put a fire in the fireplace first thing in the morning so she has a place to be as warm as she wants...because that fireplace cranks out the heat in just 15 minutes!

Truth is - I would turn on the heat if it ever got remotely uncomfortable.  I would be a bit grumpy about it, but I wouldn't let the kids or mom be cold so I could save $5.00.  But it hasn't.  I would have loved to open some windows and really bring the cool air in - I love to sleep that way.  I think you get the very best sleep under a pile of blankets in a room filled with cool, fresh air.

My point is - it wasn't cold.  I wouldn't even say it was cool.  I wore short sleeves and a light shirt - it's in the 70's outside. 

Some days she complains about her clothes.  Some days she complains about the time.  Lots of days she complains that I wasn't downstairs fast enough...usually after she has gotten up and gone back to bed 1 or 2 or 3 times.  Some days she complains about something she had a dream about...that's a weird one to respond to.  One day she complained that she was sleeping in someone else's room and why on earth would I do that to her?!

I have tried getting the first word in, but for some reason, even if I say the first good morning - she still chooses negative.  It used to be when I called Sophie in to be a furry alarm clock, it would cheer mom right up and she would start the day loving on our dog.  I mean, really?, how can you not love a wake up from a big fluffy white happy dog?

She still loves Sophie, but she finds a way to get her point across.  Her opener.  Her morning poison.  Her negative comment.  Her declaration of how displeased she is.  Her assertion of being the boss, I guess.  It makes me sad - lots of things make me sad.  I wonder of other caregivers are as sad on a daily basis as I am?

Anyway, I have faith that this will pass.  I may not be the expert on ALZ, but I can assure you that nothing is constant and no routine is sacred if the ALZ patient decides to change it.  The caregiver is not allowed to make a change or leave anything out of place, but the ALZ patient can change with the wind and explain that this is how it has ALWAYS BEEN....and then roll their eyes at how stupid you are!

Tonight is also the night I have to pretend it's Friday night again.  I let her know it's Saturday all day - because of all the kid's activities.  But I have to change it up by dinner time or she will spend the entire 5pm - 9pm worrying herself sick about what we do on Sundays.  So far it's helping - let's hope it works on Day 18!

Monday, October 28, 2013

WOW! Bigger than the normal WOW...ginormous WOW!

Some days require planning, some days require preparation, some days require check lists...yesterday was one of those days.  It was Homecoming Saturday - the first of many, I am sure, Peyton had a friend sleep over, Patrick had to work, the lawn needed to be mowed and Murph had baseball practice from 4-7.

What I wanted to do was to sleep in - all day maybe!, but my list of tasks would not allow that.  Besides, mom doesn't handle a day off schedule very well.  So, alarm off at 7:00...could've slept til 7:30 since I really couldn't shower until we finished the yard work! Fire in the fireplace to take the edge off the cold and damp of the downstairs, started breakfast and got mom started getting ready.

Very normal morning - the kiddos even came down in order - Keaton is my early riser, the Patrick and then the girls.  Since it was cool - I made oatmeal...not the healthy kind - banana, chocolate chip oatmeal - the yummy kind!

Mom and I sat at the table and ate - I tried to give her my undivided attention (as much as I could with everyone else needing something) - it was a good start to the day.  I try my best to take baby bites and talk too much so I don't finish my breakfast 'WAY before she finishes, but I never seem to time it just right.  So, I got up and fed Sophie, sat back down to finish my coffee, got up to put the oatmeal pan in to soak, sat back down for another sip of coffee, put the kids dishes in the dishwasher, sat back down one more time. 

Finally mom finished up, so I cleared the bowls and mugs and put them in the dishwasher.  Mom was still sitting at the table.  I grabbed up some recycling to take out and mom was still sitting there.  I turned around to see if Sophie wanted to come out with me and glanced over at mom and she was head down, hands trembling and really out of it.  It was so scary and so sad.

I had Patrick call 911 - thought she was having another stroke or another attack of the heart arrythmia.

Funniest thing - mom remembered my name and who I was when she was totally out of it...she called me Lisa and asked me to sit with her for a sweetly.

Paramedics came - stable, vitals, history, decision not to go to hospital, here's what it could be, here's what you need to do Monday, etc.  It was a big deal - they were here for 30 minutes or so.  Half the neighborhood stopped by to make sure everything was okay.  They came up with sirens wailing, they brought their big stretcher and lots of monitors and hooked mom up to everything - even pricked her finger to do a blood test!

And as soon as they were out the didn't remember that they had even been there.  She didn't want to rest, she didn't want to drink the Gatorade or water, she didn't want to take it easy.  Why on Earth should she rest?

ALZ never fails to blow my mind, but bearing witness to something like that is unbelievable.  How is it possible to be that suddenly sick and unable to function and then not remember anything about it in 2 minutes?

It's getting harder and harder to communicate with mom - she has no points of reference, but she is always right.  She NEEDS to always be right.  I know the books and blogs and experts say there is no benefit to arguing or even explaining most of the time...but how weird to argue with a grown woman about the fact that we had to call 911 that morning and the doctor/paramedics said to do this and this and this...


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What a week...(or so)...

I have a head cold...a long, lingering head cold.  I find that the pills and liquids and tablets designed to make me feel better make me feel thick.  or anxious.  or buzzy.  I am trying to take comfort in the fact that I feel better with the head cold and nothing else.  Unfortunately, the realization that I feel best without the head cold ruins that theory!

A head cold requires lots of tissues, cough drops, bottles of water. glasses of juice, bowls of soup, ice pops and probably patience.  I never made it to the store to get ice pops and I have clearly misplaced my patience underneath the piles of used tissues and cough drop wrappers!

There have been challenges, joys and compromises throughout my head cold period and then there was Sunday.  Sundays are tough.  They perplex mom.  The bring to light the things she would rather ignore.  Mom gets feisty on Sundays.

This Sunday she was in rare form and so was I!  We maintained our distance as best we could.  I was pretty quiet and kept a smile pasted on my face most of the day.   And I mean ALL day. 

I slept in...I was up most of the night coughing and I turned off my alarm.  I slept until 8:00, showered and headed downstairs.  Mom was up, sitting in her nightgown in her chair not very happy.  I smiled and just tried to move the day onward and upward.  One problem...Keaton had geometry that he needed help with and Patrick had to leave for work at 11:30.  That meant they would be working at the kitchen table and mom and I would have to make do with trays in the family or living room...eeeeeek!

That was the beginning of the end of all hope for an easy day. 

The kids were great with me and with mom.  We held it together pretty well considering mom let Jason in, thinking he was an old man resident or the maintenance man - depends on when I asked her.  She spent 2 hours eating a Halloween snack bag of M&Ms "secretively".  She even lied to Sophie - her partner in crime.  Apparently partnership only goes so doesn't love anyone or anything enough to share her M&Ms!  She got on a "what time do we eat" kick really early - VERY early! 

It all came to a head at dinner.  I made a really nice Sunday meal - Bacon Wrapped Chicken bites in a sweet and spicy rub, steamed broccoli and creamy, buttery parmesan rice.  Peyton is picky.  She eats 4 or 5 things and I didn't make any of them.  That means she can eat cereal or PB&J or leftovers.  Sunday we had leftover corn dogs - she loves corn dogs!

I got started early on dinner because Sundays are a challenge without a head cold and I wanted to be ready!  I planned, I had the table set beautifully, I had the prep dishes done and put away, I had a plan to get everything to finish at exactly the same was a beautiful thing.  Until the ketchup.  I asked Peyton to get drinks and to grab some ketchup for her corn dogs.  She grabbed the bottle and filled her ramekin and was going to put the bottle back in the fridge when mom muttered "I might like some of that...."  I can't do the conversation justice, but suffice it to say - we left the ketchup on the table after failing to explain adequately that we weren't eating anything that required or would even benefit slightly from ketchup. 

I have no idea why, but you could almost watch mom getting more and more frustrated while I finished up our meal.  By the time we sat down, she refused to look at me, she wouldn't speak to the kids and she went for the ketchup with a vengeance.  She poured ketchup on my beautiful chicken and all over the rice I made with organic butter and the expensive Parmesan cheese and freshly cut chives...I wanted to cry.  She also made a fuss about having less on her plate and the smallest drink cup, so I got her more chicken to destroy and switched glasses with her.  Bless her heart, she nearly made herself sick finishing it, but she was desperate to WIN.

Peyton sat most of the meal with her mouth hanging open - how do I explain to her why mom gets to break all the rules I make them follow!  Keaton just smirked and chuckled under his breath.  I stopped being angry and decided to enjoy my own beautiful meal and just let it go.  I can't get the images out of my brain.  Ketchup, ketchup and more ketchup. 

Oh well, Monday was better, today she is tired and I think I am seeing light at the end of the head cold tunnel...maybe tomorrow will hold the cure!

Monday, September 30, 2013


...nothing really bad, nothing extreme, nothing's really changed...

Life with mom is sad.  It's frustrating.  It's futile.  It's the right thing and the best thing, but I've been overwhelmed by sadness this past week.

Nothing I say or do can help her.  She refuses to read notes.  She is incapable of following or embracing or even acknowledging a routing...although if we veer too far from the routines I attempt, the results are pretty awful.  She wants to argue.  I think it's her new way of having a conversation.  She has decided that Peyton is an easy target.  At least she picks the same topics to argue about:  Sophie, where she lives, where she sits and what time we eat on Sundays.  There are two other topics that she does talk about - questions, really - that are not meant to cause an argument, they are just used like ah, or um, or a pause in a speech.  "What day is it?" and "Have we had lunch/dinner yet?"  I answer.  She asks again.

The biggest "sigh" moment comes from her new obsession with the lack of activities in her day.  She is right.  We have a big morning...the getting up routine that takes 90 minutes.  Breakfast.  Reading the newspaper.  Exercises.  Outside - she sits, I water & prune things.  The lunch.  She usually finds time for a couple of cat naps in there as well.  Then we try and do something - fold laundry, work on box tops or play one of the memory games from her speech therapist.

We used to go and pick up Peyton from school, but she is having these horrible anxiety attacks when we leave the house, so as much as she likes to get out - I just can't make it work.  She doesn't like to be left alone, but it has less negative effects on her than if I take her out.  Sometimes it can take up to 2 hours to get her calmed back down after we leave.  It's so upsetting to watch and she can get downright mean.

I am torn.  I hate to leave her out of things.  Hate to deceive her when I make excuses why she can't ride along.  Hate to ignore the complaining.  I really hate the times I have tried to explain it to her - I did it to make myself feel better, I think.  To feel like I was proving to her that I was trying to be kind and that I was being honest.  Explanations make her angry.  She smirks.  I hate that.  She doesn't believe anything I say - when I explain, I am the enemy.  I think it's because many of my explanations involve facts or details that emphasize the fact that she doesn't remember things.

I was sad yesterday.  I actually encouraged my kids to find activities that took them out of our home.  I don't want them to be saturated with this sadness.  I want them to have fun and be kids.  I want them to find joy and release and a bit of an escape from this new reality.

I just wish our master suite was downstairs so mom felt like she had her own full apartment.  A place that would allow her privacy.  And an upstairs living area that would give the kiddos a place to do their homework without being pelted with the 2 constant questions or to watch a tv show without mom's dee-dee-deeing.

But we don' while the weather is nice - let them play outside, at the park, at a friend's.  And I will stay here not explaining things and answering the 2 questions...and not getting lured into an argument!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Birthday to Mom!

Yesterday was mom's birthday - 86 years old!  As soon as the calendar (or in her case, the change on her white board) turns to September, mom starts talking about having a birthday and getting another year older.  She hints, she mentions, she manipulates, she drives everyone crazy!  BUT, she remembers that her birthday is in September - that's an accomplishment and something to be celebrated.

I actually LIED about the date on her board for Sunday, because I knew it would bother her all day.  I made it the 19th and since we only watch football or recorded shows on Sundays - no big deal!  Then on Monday I put a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY on her board.  Why not!?  It had it's pros and cons, but it made her happy!

I picked out her favorite sweatshirt for her to wear, made her most favorite breakfast - sunny side up eggs with an extra smidge of salt, bacon, crisp but not burnt and toast with an obscene amount of jam and some french roast coffee.

I sat with her and asked her questions about her favorite birthdays - not much response, but it had bright moments.  I told her ahead of time that we were going out for lunch even though I knew she would obsess about it.  I decided days ago that I would smile brightly and celebrate her all day long if that's what it took.  I would remind her that today was her birthday and pretend to be hearing her response for the very first time.  I would laugh at her "another year older" joke every single time.  I would hold her hand and hug on her and look her right in the eye and smile.  I would take every insult she chose to make about everyone forgetting her birthday and not take it personally.  I would respond with love and gentleness because that might be the best present I could give her.

She had a full day - I brought home froofy coffees after dropping the kiddos off and we sat outside.  She had a nurse's appointment (aced it!), we went out for lunch, we ran some errands and she had a PT appointment and exercises.  I planned a delish family dinner and baked what used to be her favorite cupcakes - yellow with chocolate frosting...FROM SCRATCH!

Evening came and she started down the Sundowner's path where kindness does not live.  She snapped at me, she snapped at Peyton, she grumbled under her breath about who knows what, she was at her wits end as dinner time drew near.  She was mad as heck when I had to leave and take Murph his baseball gear.  Dinner was challenging - no matter what the family was talking about, she would interrupt mid-sentence and ask what day it was.  We all smiled and said "It's your birthday today!"  She cried when we sang happy birthday to her and said "I thought everyone had forgotten" and finally she went to bed.

Today she is way off her game - somewhere deep inside she knows something is different - her age, what she did yesterday, something special she should remember...and it's weighing on her.  She is wandering.  She is mumbling.  She is hoarding/hiding.  and the latest in fun-stressed-out-mom activities - she is reading our mail, going through the kids homework, opening books and photo albums, notebooks, anything she can get her hands on.  She thinks her name is my name and that I am her mother - not the other way around and she is down-right GRUMPY.

Today she is the picture of "Glass Half Empty".   I have always been "Glass Half Full" - I get that from my Daddy.  I can't help it.  I am fully aware that my life would be easier if I could be less optimistic and more realistic, but that's not how I am wired!  I struggle with GHE folks.  Imagine my surprise that mom has that in her.  I wouldn't trade yesterday for anything - not even a smoother today.  But man, oh man, I am burning through some patience!

Happy Birthday Mom - I don't know what you wished for when you blew out your candle - but I hope it comes true!

Thursday, September 19, 2013


I remember when I was a teenager and I would jokingly call my mom "Woman" and she would call me "Child" - a true testament to our non-traditional mother/daughter relationship!

If I had to pick a nickname for her these days - it would be Goldilocks.

Everything is TOO...too hot, too cold, too spicy, too bland, too bright, too dark, too dressy, too casual, too soft, too firm, too loud, too quiet.

I have no doubts this is her way of expressing that she knows things are different.  And even though she has no idea what the exact differences are - she is going to express it in the only way she knows how....TOO.

There are days when my heart is endless and I answer and respond with kindness and patience and then there was yesterday.  There was just a bit too much TOO in yesterday.

The tv was always TOO quiet.  There was TOO much breakfast.  TOO little lunch.  TOO small a portion of dog food for "that poor doggie".  TOO many cars at the neighbors house (I actually agree with that!).  TOO warm to wear a sweatshirt.  TOO cold in this damn house.  TOO!

I found myself sneaking into other rooms to get away from the constant complaining....because when I have too little heart and patience for TOO, it's not her way of expressing herself, it's complaining, plain and simple!  I hid upstairs for nearly an hour "making beds" and "putting away laundry".

The funny thing is - mom thinks she has more power and control than she has, and she can tell when I am annoyed with her.  Yesterday that resulted in really loud "dee-dee-deeing" and Sophie obsession.  She was challenging me.  At one point she tried to lure me into an argument about feeding the dog and every time I would answer her she would smile at me and start dee-dee-deeing and then turn her head.  She did this twice before I could tell I was losing it and I had to walk away.

She followed me and did it all over again.  I walked away.  She followed me and tried to start again and I shut her down.

I am finding that the only way to end a string of these challenges is to be stern with her.

It's like putting a child in timeout and adding minutes when they don't comply.  It's awful.  I don't want to be her mother.  I want to be her daughter or her caretaker or a casual acquaintance, but I don't want to be the stern school marm or nun at Catholic school.  Once I am as clear and concise as I can be (and stern) she gets it and it stops for an hour or so.  That's a benefit to my sanity, but it's a wound at the same time.  Because every time she gets it, it reminds her that she is NOT in control, she is no longer independent and that her life has drastically changed.  It makes her sad.

On a bright note, she doesn't sass or dee-dee-dee when she is sad.  She doesn't argue with me over every detail when she is sad.  Tough bargain.

The sadness, like everything else, doesn't last.  She rebounds quickly and it all starts over.  The sidewalk is TOO bumpy, the car is TOO small, the mealtimes are TOO late, the girls are TOO loud, Keaton's practices run TOO late and I am TOO bossy.

Sometimes I find JUST RIGHT.  I bribed the kids and mom with McDonald's for dinner - JUST RIGHT.  I turned the volume up to 32 on Ellen - JUST RIGHT.  I showed proper interest and sympathy when she talked about getting hit by that car when she was in grade school for the 10th time yesterday - JUST RIGHT.  I gave her a hug and a kiss goodnight after she finally got in bed - JUST RIGHT.

This ALZ Goldilocks is strengthening my patience muscles - who knows what the grand plan is for me - but I will be ready if it requires Herculean patience and the ability to keep trying until I get it JUST RIGHT!

By the way - she is already pushing my buttons again today...I will make it a game, an M & M for every time I don't get frustrated...hope I'm hungry!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sometimes Grace is Chloronated Water

"And the real mystery of grace is that it always arrives in time. Like the wind, grace finds us wherever we are and won’t leave us however we were found. "

I came across these words on Ann Voskamp's blog and I was transported to the pool.

I have taken up lap swimming every weekday morning at 5am at Keller Pointe.  The discipline to get to the pool on time to get my swim in and still make it home in time to get the kiddos ready and to school and get mom her breakfast is a task to be conquered daily.  Busting through the doors of TKP and rushing through the locker room in time to get a lane is crazy hectic.  Being faced each morning with a 45 minute swim that challenges my lungs, legs, arms and resolve is a bit overwhelming.

And then I slink under the lane line and dip my head in the water.  Put my hair in a pony.  Get my goggles on.  Face the lap ahead of me.  And push off....

I wish I had the words to describe the peace and joy and exhilaration I feel every time I'm in the water.  I am weightless, my knees don't ache, my body feels strong, my mind feels free and I am lifted.  I believe it is by Grace.  It feels like worship and prayer and playing and rejoicing and work and flying.

Today I was a stud.  I was stronger than usual - I'm sure the result of doing this since June.  I am still the weakest swimmer of the bunch - some of these guys are amazing!  But I am pretty sure I am the most joyful swimmer in the bunch!  I absolutely know how good this is for my physically, but that's not why I'm doing it.  This is my time.  My happy hour.  My escape.  My joy!

My chlorinated grace time finds me at the beginning of a new day, no idea what might be ahead.  Sometimes it finds me wrapped up in worries or challenges from the previous day, but it never leaves me there.  I leave the pool, the showers, the locker room, the facility and the parking lot armed with a peace that I can draw on all day long. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Some Days are Tougher Than Others

Yesterday was an up and down day for mom.  She woke up joyful and singing.  She got a special early morning greeting from Sophie (aka the Furry Alarm Clock!) and we had a nice breakfast.  I decided I could not cook, so we had cereal and she was pleased as punch.  We had recorded the Buckeyes game and we watched as a family (minus Peyton who could care less about football...adopted, perhaps?) and mom had a couple of really nice flashback memories of living in Ohio.

We got McDonald's for lunch - Peyton and mom could LIVE on McD's, so that was good.  She ate her fries and most of my fries and that was good.  She drank her entire Orange soda, which usually lasts for 2 meals and that was good.

That's where the good ended.  Somewhere between lunch and the next 5 minutes, she got anxious, confused, irritable and nervous.  She paced between rooms, she looked for people that weren't there.  She talked to my kids like they were her peers and not ones she particularly liked!  She started hiding/'s a thing she has done for a couple of years, but yesterday it was crazy out-of-control.  She wraps random things up in tissue, stuffs them in her pockets or walker and then hides them around her room.

Having the house all torn up and all our office papers stacked on the island while we wait for the insurance claim to go through has to be tempting.  She had a business card from the restoration people, nail clippers, a purple toy duck and 55 cents.  That's what I found.  I'm sure there may be one or two other things, but that was what I found so far.  Hiding/Hoarding is almost always a sign of anxiety and some challenging behavior - rarely the same challenges from incident to incident, but I can tell it's coming.

Yesterday mom decided to WILL herself back to Meadowlakes.  Keaton was an 80-year old man - he got a big kick out of that (at first!), Peyton was Sue, I think - one of the residents my mom described as 'bossy' and I was Rosemary or Yvonne (not sure).  I have no idea who Patrick was.  Mom was imagining things and then describing them in detail.  I am trying not to argue with her much - it doesn't serve a purpose and it frustrates her, but when she insists that things are happening TO her that aren't...where do you draw the line?

By dinner time, she was convinced that the other people in here were trying to nicely get her to leave this place.  She was complaining loudly regardless of if there was anyone else in the same room, about being left for hours all alone.  She was mad because I took her car without asking.  Poor Keaton had to do a homework project on the computer downstairs and she wouldn't let up.  She actually got ugly with him and Patrick shut her down!  Patrick is the single most patient person on this Earth, but don't mess with our kids!

Dinner was late - she hates that!  Everyone was home for dinner - she's not real crazy about that either - 3 meals with 5 people - YIKES!  Dinner being late = evening pills being late - no bueno!  AND it was a school night - really REALLY hates that!  Lunches to be packed, homework to be verified, backpacks loaded, waters chilled and muffins made.  By muffins - mom had lapped the house 30 times "looking for my............................." (she never finishes that sentence).  She stopped to watch us make muffins and she criticized everything in a very sweet voice (the devil's advocate again, I am sure).  At one point we were talking about how the kids get to school and she wondered aloud "how Keaton does that?"  I said, "Oh mom, I take him." and she said "No, MY Keaton"  and I said "My son, Keaton?" and she said "No, my daughter's son, MY grandson, Keaton." and I said "Mom, I'm Lisa, your daughter." and she said "No you're not."  I tried to convince her one more time, but I could tell she was about to say something mean to me and I lose my filters about 8:00pm, so I just excused myself and went upstairs to put on my jammies.

I think my heart broke a little bit.  I hit my knees and prayed.  I stayed on my knees and thanked God for this opportunity and for all the things that have been going right and not wrong.  And then I got up, splashed water on my face, put on my comfies and went back downstairs.

They ended up being really great chocolate chip muffins.  And I had a really great cup of ice cream.  I also put both kids in our bed and Peyton and I read another chapter of Anne of Green Gables before everyone went off to bed.

Some days are tougher than others - I just have to keep being tougher than those days!

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Last night we watched Miracle.  I love that movie.  I am sometimes embarrassed by how many times I have watched it and how many times I cry at the exact same places.  But I know what I love and that's all there is to it.

Watching with mom was surreal....we watched the actual US v. USSR together back in 1980.  Mom is the reason I love the Olympics.  She watched them always and so I watched them too.  I love the Opening Ceremonies, I watch any event that is on.  I adore the human interest stories and I always cheer for the Americans and any underdog that is competing.

I was away at college, but mom and I talked on the phone a couple of times a week.  We talked about the Olympics.  We talked about the hockey team!  We talked about the figure skating - mom LOVED figure skating!  Anyway, when it came time for the US to play the Soviet Union and no one at Bluffton was nearly as interested as I was - I drove to Lima to watch with mom.  I can still remember where we were each sitting, I remember Angie peeking in to watch and cheer with us, I remember Daddy coming home for the last half of the game.  It's one of those "do you remember where you were when...." moments - but this one had a happy ending.  No one was killed, nothing was bombed, not a white Bronco in sight.  And it's gone for mom.

Maybe it wasn't as important to her even when it was happening, but it breaks my heart that it's gone.  It's not a memory, a flicker or a vague anything.  It's just gone.  I wanted to remind her - to help, to FORCE her to remember, but I knew it would upset her or make her sad, so we watched a nice movie that she had never seen before and she lost interest about mid-way.

I miss my mom even though she's just 20 feet away.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Be careful what you wish for...

Today has been one of those mentally exhausting days where if something can go just wrong enough to throw off 4 other has!  I think I've handled it pretty well...there was a moment in Central's parking lot where I thought I might cry or break my steering wheel in half, but a song and a pretty sky saved me.

I type this because I am in need of some time where not one single person needs one single thing from me.  Not just time for me to sleep - and I LOVE my sleep! - but it's starting to feel like it doesn't count...doesn't deposit into the Lisa-time account!  Anyway, 5:20pm and I have 15 minutes - not time for dinner yet, clothes in the washer, clothes in the dryer, kids all where they are supposed to be, plants watered for the SECOND time today (blast this heat!) and a Jimmy Fallon to watch.  15 minutes!!!

For some reason (and I think I know why), mom was not entertained by Jimmy.  It was, after all, too late for Jimmy - we are supposed to watch Jimmy after lunch and before we pick up Peyton...not after we pick up Peyton and before dinner...although after lunch and before dinner are technically the same thing!

So mom does what mom does - and that's wander from room to room muttering about trying to find "that thing", "my ... oh you know", "make sure I know where my room is", "I've need to run in here to do something", "I just want to make sure..........".  She had a hair appointment today and it didn't thrill her.  She wasn't excited to go.  She didn't seem to enjoy it while she was there.  She did enjoy the fuss when she was done - mom has a beautiful head of hair and the ladies at New Hair Line think she's cute and like to fuss over her!  And then she was ready to be home.  She had a tough time in the car - totally obsessing about not knowing where she was, only talking about trees...I really need to make that a post someday - mom's favorite conversation starter, the tree.

I think that's why the evening wandering started early.  No naps, up too early this morning and being out of her element and getting scared.

Since mom moved in, I have been trying to convince her that this is her home too.  I want her to understand that she is living in my house, but that she is part of our family.  I think it's starting to backfire!  She now thinks it's her house and she is making herself right at home.  Today during the late afternoon wander she started going through stacks of papers.  She took everything with my name on it and put it in her walker.  When I asked her what she had - she said, "Well, these are letters for my daughter Lisa.  I'm not sure why they are sending them to me here, but I am going to take them to her when she comes to pick me up."  She thought it was funny that her daughter, me, had so many letters and she only had two.  Her bank statement and the monthly Medicare statement.   I managed to get my letters away from her, but she is holding on to HER letters with all her might.  She gets them out every 2 minutes and tries to figure out what they say and then folds them up and spends 3 minutes trying to get them back in the envelope.

I think today wore us both out.  I am waiting for P to get home, Murph to finish his movie (mom is thankfully already asleep) and I am off to bed.  Happy to start fresh tomorrow.  Who knows what adventures it may bring!?

The Not-So-Great Flood of 2013

Apparently life was getting to easy, too complacent, too the toilet in the downstairs bathroom decided to overflow.  And to tell the truth, it's not that unusual for a potty to back up and I am trying to be Superwoman now that I'm not working and bringing in income, so I got the plunger.

To go back a step or two...I was sitting right here at the computer reading some article about Alzheimer's and I heard water gurgling.  Probably not a good sign.  Before I could even sign off...another gurgle.  By the time I got to the bathroom - the toilet water had a taken on a life of it's own...ugh!  I plunged - it overflowed even more.  I plunged again - it was clearly coming out the bottom.

I decided I was going to have to wait for it to go down and for Patrick to get I did what any borderline OCD person does...I cleaned up.  Towels into trash bags, bath mats out into the yard, shop towels and disinfectant at the ready.  Gloves - a must!  Pairs and pairs of gloves...thank you Dora!  Let the clean up begin.  I was sweating like nobody's business, the smell was just awful and I wasn't making much progress.  I felt so bad when Patrick came down the stairs on his one day off...I was hoping to have it all fixed so he wouldn't have to deal with any of it.  No such luck!

I can't do justice to the scene that played out over the next 60 minutes - we plunged, we scooped water, we soaked towel after towel, went through glove after glove, mop head after mop head, pulled the toilet off, snaked the main drain and NOTHIN'!  Time to call a plumber.  Justin, plumber of the year, nicest guy to wear a uniform, etc. came and saved the day (and cost us $225) - there was major blockage in the line.   He put the toilet back on and replaced the wax seal - without us asking him to or him charging us...such a wonderful gesture.

He recommended a water damage repair company - we called them, they came, another wonderful soul - Joshua, we called the insurance claims folks and Joshua got to work.  He called in reinforcements so the kids and mom could achieve some kind of bedtime - and they were out of here by 10:00pm.

I say all this to point out another very strange thing about seems the least upset by this.  I thought it would make her nuts or anxious or upset or scared.  Nope.  Out of sight, out of mind...literally!  Mostly out of mind.  She can be looking right at the damage and she doesn't seem to notice that anything is out of place.  She showed a bit of anxiety when she was worried that she couldn't use the bathroom, but after that - nothing!  She doesn't seem to notice that it happened, she's not upset that it happened, she has shown no sympathy for it happening and if she's in the family room or her room - she doesn't have a clue that it happened at all.

It's been quite a 48 hours - but Joshua came and picked up the fans today - we have peace in the home once again.  The reconstruction company will be here tomorrow - thank goodness!  Hoping to have the work started on Monday...How will mom handle drywallers, hammers, nail guns, the flooring guys?  Who knows!?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Devil's Advocate

Strange as it may seem - those words are a blast from my past.  Not a pleasant blast - like hearing "Julie, Julie, Julie, Do ya love me?" on the radio or watching a "Where Are They Now" with Oprah and the Brady Bunch or even looking through an old Reflector.  Nope, those are infamous words spoken by my mother.  Words I always interpreted to mean - I can't believe how wrong you are and how easy it is for me to be right, preferably in front of other people.  That sounds really harsh - I mean, what's the point of even thinking about it any more? 

The point is - mom is at it again. 

Lately she has been fixated on the feeding of our dog, Sophie.  Sophie loves mom - Sophie loves that mom occasionally drops food at the dinner table.  Sophie loves that mom occasionally drops food on the front of her clothing so Sophie can bury her furry little face in mom's lap.  Sophie loves that mom can sit for hours and not disturb her - she has found a place at mom's side in the afternoon - perfect for dog & GPeg napping!  Sophie loves that mom can't remember if Sophie has eaten and that there are things Sophie is not supposed to have - because that means Mom slips her bite after bite. 

Mom loves Sophie because Sophie doesn't care that mom can't remember her name or that she's a girl dog.  Mom loves Sophie because she is a great listener.  Mom loves Sophie because, as far as Mom can tell, Sophie doesn't remember much either.  And mostly, Mom loves Sophie because Sophie loves mom!

Anyway, Mom has taken to asking at least 20 times a day "How do they feed her?"  They, being the people at Meadowlakes (I think) and her being Sophie.  She then will ask "Has she eaten?".  If we say yes, she tells me that she looks hungry.  If Sophie glances up at mom as she walks by to find a spot to nap, mom tells me she looks hungry.  If Sophie takes her big, chewed up blue dinosaur to mom to play, mom ignores her request and tells me she looks hungry.  If I put Sophie's bowl and food at mom's feet so she can watch me give her food and then watch (and listen to) her eat, mom tells me she looks hungry.  And every time Sophie puts her head in mom's lap or lays down beside her - mom has to say in a too loud voice "I haven't got a thing for you, poor hungry puppy".  REALLY?!

A couple of days ago, this new fixation took a nasty turn.  She now challenges us, particularly me and my daughter (who I think my mom actually thinks is me) when we say we feed her or that she has eaten.  She looks down her nose and smirks and proceeds to tell us that "I certainly didn't see anyone feed her and she sure looks hungry."  She gets argumentative.  She gets snarky.  She is picking a fight!  It's the weirdest thing.

Until this morning.  We had just finished breakfast, I was putting the dishes in the sink and mom was finishing her coffee...we had just played several rounds of the "has she eaten/I haven't got a thing for you" game.  When I heard mom "whispering" to Sophie - it was a total flashback to my childhood, when mom would be talking to my dad or Angie or Millie about something I was doing or had done that she didn't agree with "I can assure you it's not a choice I would make." in a too loud whisper so I could hear them.  I never did figure out if that was part of the test - could I just ignore it and move on?  did I lose points if I didn't stand up to her?  was she scoring me on how well I could defend my position?  I just know that whether I said something, stood up for myself or slinked away to my room, it always hurt my feelings.  It always made me envious when other moms were their children's greatest advocates - NOT the Devil's Advocate!  Because every time I chose to defend whatever she was questioning - and I got the best of her (meaning I won or my point made sense) she would shrug off any responsibility for perhaps needing to apologize or praise me by saying, "You know I'm just playing the devil's advocate - helping you prepare for situations later in life."

A couple of years ago, my daughter pointed out to me that I tend to not side with her (or anyone) when there is a battle between children in my house or at events when we take friends.  I become a mediator and give both sides a chance to speak, ask questions and point out that there are always 2 sides to every story and that I am sure the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I then try and help each of them see things from the perspective of the other.  Epic fail!  My daughter wants and needs an advocate.  So, although I am still a mediator to some extent - I have also become my daughter's most outspoken advocate.  I adore my children and don't want them wearing the chains of a mother who wanted them to be wrong so I could be right. 

Everything happens for a reason - sometimes we are raised in ways that help us as we raise our children - sometimes we exactly model our parent's behavior.  Sometimes we purposely go in a different direction.  Most times we meet in the middle.  I know I emulate the fun, friend part of how my mom raised me with my kids.  I know I expect them to finish everything they begin, the exact opposite of how my mom raised me.  And although I occasionally do play the devil's advocate with them - I never say it that way, I always do it privately and I do it to share my experiences with them so they can be right and wise and thoughtful and responsible in the future - because if they aren't those things - then, as a parent, neither am I.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Denture Game

I know it's not funny, but it's funny.  This new fear that someone is going to steal mom's dentures in the night has taken on a life of it's own.

Some nights she tucks them into her sweater pocket and then tries to pretend she still has them in her mouth so I won't ask about them.  Some nights she keeps them in and tucks all the "stuff" (denture cream, toothpaste, toothbrush and the overnight holder) into various parts of her clothing and walker.  Then she can't figure out how to get them out and complete her evening routine.  One night she actually went into her room, shut the dividers (which she NEVER does) and hid all the pieces in different places!  It took me 20 minutes the next morning to help her find them so she could get ready for breakfast, her poor dentures wrapped in a tissue under the pillow on the chair all dried out.  Some nights I catch her at a good point and explain that she leaves them in her bathroom and although I can tell she doubts me deeply, she leaves them in there.  Usually that requires 2 or 3 "pssssst, c'mere's" to bring me over to ask in whispered tones if her dentures will be okay "down here" - that's when I can tell she thinks she is at Meadowlakes and that "down here" means the public restroom outside the big dining hall - I can see where she might not want to leave them there!  She always confides to me that some of these women can't be trusted and then glances back over her shoulder at the bathroom as she is walking away.

Last night she was in a foul mood because I wouldn't turn the tv on in the family room - the kids were both overwhelmed with homework last night - Peyton had 2 auditions this morning, 1 project to finish and 2 projects to present today - lots of practicing.  Keaton had 100 Spanish vocab words to copy, a Pre-AP Geometry paper due today and PreAP English vocab words to study for a test tomorrow (he has a game tonight - so studying is but a fleeting hope for me!).  I don't have a lot of rules, but I don't allow television, phones or i-Pad until homework is finished.  Mom has a tv in her room, but she thinks it's a punishment to have to sit in there, so she won't watch it until she is full-out ticked off at me. 

The sad thing is - she thinks that by being nasty she is going to get her way or guilt me into doing what she wants.  I'm just not wired that way.  When my kids or co-workers or fellow volunteers do crap like that - I dig in.  I'm not proud of it, but I can't help it.  After the initial defeat, she then will wander through whatever we are doing talking over whatever we are saying and hinting about how much she'd like to sit and watch tv with us.  Bless her heart!  Peyton was in full-on eye rolling mode and Keaton had retreated upstairs - he's too nice to ignore her and then he gets overwhelmed because he can't get his work done.  I am becoming somewhat cold-hearted (or practical, depending on the day) and do the best I can to make the situation pleasant, inviting her to sit with us, but not turning on the tv and not letting her be too distracting while the kids are doing their work.

Anyway, she was in a mood - and "a mood" usually translates into several laps around the house - trying to find a way to get us all to pretend that she didn't just act badly or say something hurtful to get her way (my least favorite part of ALZ) and to go to the bathroom - something to do?  a way to keep her eye on the family?  stress-induced?  I have no idea, but she made at least 10 trips in about 40 minutes last night.  By the 4th trip the Denture Game was in full swing.  Peyton gets all worked up about it - I honestly thought it was the idea of teeth lying around the house was freaking her out...last night I discovered she is terrified that Sophie is going to chew them up and G-Peg will have to live with us without her teeth in every day!

So, I set my alarm for 10 minutes early (4:20am) so I could sneak down and find and gather her denture stuff without waking her up, get it back into the bathroom, put the cleaning tablet in (I could tell she had neglected that part in last night's frenzy) and still get to TKP in time to get a lap lane.  I was successful!

I love my mom, I don't begin to understand her and since she was such a stranger to me after daddy died, I have no idea where this distrust comes from.  Sadly - it may have always been there and I was too young and selfish to notice or ask her about her beliefs or past or to hear something she may have tried to tell me that would explain this.  Maybe it happened after daddy was gone - maybe she senses, but doesn't quite remember, the details of how she was taken advantage of when her 2nd husband passed.  Maybe it's just a part of aging or Alzheimer's.  Whatever it is - the Denture Game is how it presents itself in our new world.  She seems no worse for it - she had no recollection of it last night or this morning.  It's funny how she has no problem with them being in the bathroom when she gets ready in the morning.  Even funnier when I don't get a chance to get them back in there and she fusses around wondering who moved her teeth.

I wonder if other ALZ families play this game to...or maybe it's the Coffee Cup Game or the Spoon Game or the "this is my Quarter" game. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Too much family for mom!

I'm not sure what causes it - maybe it's the confusion of keeping everyone straight, maybe it's because it's harder to believe this is Meadowlakes when my entire family is around, maybe there's some deep-seated regret about not taking time to be a part of my/her family, maybe it's just the change in her routine - but whatever it is, weekends when my entire family is home are really difficult for mom. 

What I am sure of, is that these weekends are total bliss for me and there is nothing I/we can do to make it any easier on mom or to help her.  The kids want to help - they are such good souls - and it's really tough to convince them that sometimes the best, kindest thing to do is just to leave the room and let her be.

The morning started pretty well, but yesterday was Peyton and I's movie day - we were going to see the new One Direction "This is Us" movie and mom does not like it when I leave.  She also doesn't understand why she can't go - she used to love the movies in her little town - she went every week.  I am still trying to decide if it's best to explain it to her - the physical limitations and issues with taking her, the mental issues that would make it difficult to take her or the just plain - why on earth would you want to go see the new 1D movie?  For the sake of my daughter, I just talked around it and we made our escape.  We did the whole weekend dress up wear, we spent way too much money on movie snacks and we wore 3-D glasses.  It was a wonderful 2 hours...2 and a half actually - we got there really early - I can't help it!

I had high hopes that it would be one of the things mom chose not to hold onto and all would be well when I got home.  It was half and half.  I could tell that she knew something was off and I could feel myself starting to fall prey to the guilt and somehow we made it through the afternoon with a tiny bribe of ice cream in the afternoon. 

I could tell mom was off her game because mom walked back and forth between the living and family rooms at least 2 dozen times - no idea what she was looking for or if she found it, but it seemed to calm her down to leave one room and go into the other.  

The evening was good - Buckeye football, wings, Rally fries on tv trays in the living room.  She tried so hard to get into the game for the first quarter or so and then she settled into being contented with being with everyone and pretending to be watching.  I caught her sneaking naps and some crossword puzzle action!

Today everyone was home with a ton of yard work looming.  I invited mom outside but it is just too hot!  Well over 100 today and she can't handle it...heck, I can hardly handle it!  The entire family got in on the lawn work - mowing, trimming, edging, cutting back tree limbs, sweeping sidewalks, cleaning up flower beds.  We were exhausted and disgusting and mom didn't even notice.  She wanted her lunch on time and she is bored.  "It'd be nice if there were something going on around this place.  I get so sick of just sitting here all day."  It's so frustrating.  It's not her fault and I don't mind reminding her of all that has happened, but when you are covered with dirt, sweat, stink and have sticks in your hair - it's nearly impossible to imagine that she can't see the cues that scream YARDWORK!!! 

Oh well, Patrick has the kiddos at Target getting Murph's school supplies and I am trying to get mom interested in Julie and Julia, but she has moved into the "have we had dinner yet" time frame.  60 minutes til dinner - probably 20 times asking one version or another of that question.  She has started coming into the kitchen to stand by the island while I cook - I like that!  It feels like something we do "together".

I must go preheat and start the process...60 minutes until the entire family sits down together for Sunday dinner!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Fast Friday facts

#sharkrap cracked mom up - how is that possible?...but she laughed out loud!

Hair appointment baby step - I sat in the entry room and read while she got her hair done - felt almost like a vacation.  She was happy, I may actually finish the book I started in June!

When mom decides to get nasty - STOP!  any attempt to speak, act, smile, frown, change the subject is just asking for trouble.  Just look down, move slowly and wait for the storm to pass.

Mom prefers Peyton's school car-rider line to Central's - high schoolers require more explanation! 

If mom refuses to do her exercises/walking.  I just get up and move from room to room and she follows me - it's kind of cheating, but it gets her up and moving!

Had to buy scented body wash for TKP - when I use the unscented stuff I still smell like chlorine after I shower and it torments mom...what is that smell, you don't have a pool, are we at the motel?

Mom has zero memory of Bob, her second husband - even with pictures.  She still remembers daddy - but it's sad!

Mom likes Monk - it's the one thing she and Peyton can watch together.  If Peyton laughs, so does mom.  When mom laughs, so does Peyton.

AnnMarie, our hairstylist, loves to tease mom about finding a boyfriend.  If she only knew!

I am so glad my entire family is home tonight....I have faith that mom will go to bed without incident and we may get to spend a couple of hours together.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sometimes you've just gotta laugh...

It's been a couple of long days.  Tuesday, the kids went back to school and with that - all the little changes that a family has to make to survive.  Obviously, I've never given much thought to the impact changes like this have on the person NOT instituting the changes.  When the kids complain about early bedtimes, I ignore them - I know best, after all!  When they fuss about rationed time for electronics, tv, friends - I ignore that too.  And I've always been able to use the rationale that "if you want to _____________ (play baseball, be in dance, have friends over, get into a good college), then you'll ______________ (keep your room clean, get your homework done first, be upstairs and in bed by 10:00)"  It makes sense to them.  Especially Keaton - my totally motivated by incentives child.  Peyton is still young enough that she listens to me and is clinging to the belief that her mom is pretty smart.

The wrinkle this school year?  Mom!

All summer long she has been sound asleep before I started the kids on their nighttime routine.  The house has been quite until she finished her breakfast.  Meals happened at mealtime.  And all of this agreed with her.  (I think I may have mentioned that mom expects to be the center of the universe!)

Tuesday night was one of the most difficult nights my family has had since she moved in.  I was trying to organize kid pick up with Patrick at work and not drag mom out of her comfort zone too much.  I did okay starting out - picked up Peyton with mom in tow, came home, took Peyton to Gracies and got back before mom even missed me.  Mom sat with me while I prepped dinner - turkey burger patties made, potatoes cut up to roast, table set, peaches sliced.  I got her a snack to "tide her over" since we weren't going to eat until 6:30ish.  Then it was time to pick up Keaton and get Peyton from Gracies and get Peyton to tap.  I ran to get Murph, grabbed Peyton and dropped Murph off to sit with mom while I drove her to the dance studio.  She decided she had to run in to grab a snack (for a 45 minute class!) and I decided to wait in the car - we were cutting it pretty close. 

Apparently mom threw into a full-on tantrum at the kids - she thought I was her sister, I was stealing her car and she had been left alone for HOURS and the kids needed to tell me to come inside NOW.  Keaton tried to explain, Peyton didn't know what to do so she just ran out to the car.  She told me mom was upset that I was stealing her car, but I didn't get the full impact of how crazy she had gone (we were running late and that traditionally dulls my judgement concerning the importance of anything that isn't about getting where I am trying to go!)  No worries though, right?  I passed Patrick coming home as we were turning out of the neighborhood.  WRONG!  By the time he got here - she was ticked off and being pretty ugly to Keaton - who, bless his heart, was trying to calm her down and reason with her. 

Lots transpired - Patrick and Keaton went outside to start the grill and toss the baseball.  I got Peyton to dance, paid her tuition and came home.  Mom was annoyed by the time I got home - by now a stranger had come into the house, grabbed her keys and stolen her car (I think this was Peyton) and she'd been left alone all day since I left for work early this morning and she hadn't had a thing to eat all day.  To her credit, she was a mess.  I believe she was genuinely confused and had convinced herself all she was thinking was true.

We finally got sat down to dinner - she was in rare form ("I don't suppose there's enough for me to have some?", "I am so sorry to impose on your dinner - I thought my daughter was coming for me this evening or I'd have made other plans."  and then some obsessive pickle eating.  Mom loves her salt and she is not supposed to have much - so last night she made up for it by eating pickle slices.  I put like 6 on her tiny turkey burger and she informed me that she prefers a few more.  So I put 6 more on her plate and she put those on.  Then she asked me, pointing at the jar of pickles, if those were pickles and could she have a few - I probably wasn't aware of her fondness for pickles.  So I dug out a huge pile and she complained that she didn't need THAT many and then promptly ate them.  Peyton's eyes got so big watching her - she was mesmerized. 

The kids were trying to tell Patrick about their day and she kept interrupting with the most bizarre questions and statements (trying to get the focus back on her, I think, but maybe just trying to deal with her blowup from earlier - which I am sure she didn't remember in detail - just a vague knowledge that something off had taken place).  Sometimes it hurts the kids' feelings when she does this, but they were troopers - they plowed right through, pausing to answer her or let me answer her.  She couldn't get to the couch fast enough after dinner and the kids were so much help just so they'd have something to do in the kitchen.

It was also supposed to be our first immediate-family-only-night (I-FON - or i-Phone, as I like to call it!) - I was committed.  Mom was pissed.  I was firm.  The family was uncomfortable. 

After only one reminder that she needed to stay in her room - she rolled her walker out and sat down right between Patrick and I! - mom did her level best to follow the IFON rules.  She did go to the bathroom about 10 times in 90 minutes and she took really long pauses in the kitchen making little noises to try and get someone to invite her over.  We were strong and we ended up with an entire evening all to ourselves. 

Her need to be where people are is actually quite sweet - and her efforts to be noticed, but to still do "what she is supposed to do" were so adorable.  We'd hold a straight face for as long as she could see or hear us, but when she'd finally go back into her room, the kids would laugh and Patrick and I would roll our eyes.

We all know she doesn't mean to be ugly and that she is sick, but that doesn't always make up for the behavior.  It was nice to bond as a family for a little while and the truth is - she didn't even remember any of it the next morning.

Yesterday was full of the same - too much to type, but she did eat 2 dinners - one at her dinner time and then another when I fed the kids "since no one had bothered to feed her yet" and she took out her dentures, cleaned them, put them back in the next trip to the bathroom (2 minutes later) and left them soaking in her ice cream dish.  I am sure it wasn't the best thing for the dentures, but I was at a loss, so I left it.  It really threw her off this morning....I tried to explain and decided against it.  When I turned the tv off at 9:00 to get the kids started on their path to bedtime - she did that thing where she was a classic 'victim' and the kids were mean Meadowlakes residents who didn't want her in their clic and I was some kind of prison warden who was on their side and lying to her to make her look stupid.  And there is the silver lining of the ice cream would have been so easy to get angry about her words and actions and facial expressions and then she soaked her dentures in an ice cream cup.  We've got it pretty good in comparison!

I spend the most time with her - so I can ignore it better than the kids - I know it doesn't hurt her to change the subject or just leave the room, I know she can't be reasoned with or convinced, I know my sanity depends on being able to ignore the bad stuff.  I am learning that it's okay to laugh about some of the more ridiculous things she says and does - it's not done to hurt her feelings or to make fun of her - it's to release some of the tension brought on by having an ALZ patient in our lives 24/7.  We are never mean and there is a reason there is a saying that says "If you don't laugh, you'll cry!"

Today is going to be another tough one - Keaton has his first football game, Peyton has dance, mom can't go to the game (it's going to be 103 at kickoff and the air quality is red) and Patrick's dad and Sue aren't able to come over like we had planned.  I am going to try and get Peyton to dance, catch at least an hour of his Freshman game and get home before mom loses it.  Hopefully get her dinner and settled down before everyone else gets home....hopefully!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Thank you Jimmy Fallon

I have always thought Jimmy Fallon was hysterical - everything I've seen him do cracks me up.  I'm beginning to think it's genetic!  I started recording Late Night a couple of weeks ago so I could see Timberweek again and the most convenient time to watch them is after lunch with mom.  She loves the show!

I am convinced she doesn't get all the humor, but you just can't hide funny!  We laugh and smile and she stays in a good mood for the entire show.  I have tried it with Ellen and Steve Harvey and Dave (sorry Jay, you're just not my cup of tea) and none of them entertain mom like Jimmy!

Today, the first day of school, was a good day.  Got the kids off without a hitch, mom none the wiser - she slept through it all!  Had breakfast, did her PT exercises, cleaned bathrooms and did laundry, had lunch and then watched Jimmy until time to go get in the car-rider line.  Side note:  can't fast forward through commercials if mom is in the room - that really throws off the Happy Fallon mojo!  And I am LOVIN' the Happy Fallon mojo!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Protecting my sanity???

Tomorrow is the kid's first day of school.  This is a big deal in our house and it is so bizarre that mom can't remember and doesn't care.  I can tell it is frustrating me and I am not quite sure what to do about that.

I can't:
  • reason with her
  • remind her
  • scold her
  • create empathy in her
  • call back memories from my first days of school
  • get her to read the sign I made that says "tomorrow is the first day of school"
So I have just plowed through the day trying to change the subject or smile or find a reason to go to the other room.  There is just so much to do and it's the kids last day of summer and I have put off the Academy shoe-buying experience and I just knew it would be a bad idea to take anything too personally or to spend too much time with mom considering her mood.

She just doesn't like it when the attention is clearly not on her or we are talking about something she doesn't understand or can't follow.  How terribly sad that she can't remember that her grandchildren are heading back to school tomorrow.  How sad that whenever they tried to show off an outfit or those Academy sneaks we finally bought she talked about how long ago she was in school and how she was glad she didn't have to deal with that stuff anymore.  I was a little sad that she never once thought about my first days of school.  I mean, I don't remember it being a big deal, but the bts shopping was and the first day outfit was.  It turned out she didn't realize who I was - at some point she seemed genuinely surprised that I didn't grow up on a farm like she did.  Me, on a farm!  HAH!  I dream of rural Lisa, I read the Helen and Scott Nearing book, I shaved pigs ears at the Allen Co Fair (thanks Scot Lugibihl), farm Lisa has not ever existed outside some Little House on the Prairie daydreaming and one Laura Ashley prom dress!

So, tomorrow is the first day of 6th grade for Peyton and the first day of High School for Keaton and it will annoy the heck out of mom in the morning and then peace will descend on the house and mom will be the center of this universe until it is time to do pick up starting at 2:40. 

For now, it's bedtime - and it's a school night, so I'd better go!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tomorrow's Sunday, Tomorrow's Sunday

Mom has Sundowner's and it's tough to live with and to watch.  Last night she walked back and forth to her room to make sure it "was still there" 7 times in 10 minutes.  She paces and mumbles and gets a look in her eyes that makes me so sad for her.  She seems scared - I'm sure it's a form of anxiety, but when it's your family - you want to make them feel safe, feel better, feel relaxed.  I have tried everything I can think of and depending on her mood or the severity of her anxiety - there isn't anything I can do.

She is taking a pill at bedtime that has some positive effects - it's not a knock out pill, that can worsen the ALZ and it's not an anti-anxiety medicine - that usually doesn't work on ALZ patients like it does on others.  It's something we are trying with her physician and it seems to make her a bit more relaxed, but not until she is all the way in bed.

We've mastered the bedtime routine - sometimes mom gets a bit creative about it - which can make me nuts or crack me up.  Last night she did everything in the normal order, but she "took the back way" to her room just to keep things interesting.  But when she finally got in bed she was smiling.

Part of the nighttime routine is asking what day it is and looking at her white board that says what day it is and trying to make it all make sense.  Then she asks what day tomorrow is.  Last night after the third time she got a puzzled look on her face and said - "Wasn't there a song about that????  How did that go????" and then she started singing the funniest made-up song ever guessed it...."Tomorrow's Sunday!!!"  It went something like "Tomorrow's Sunday, Tomorrow's Sunday, do-dee-do-dee-dah.  Tomorrow's Sunday, tomorrow's Sunday, la-dee-da-dee-dah!" and then she would giggle and start again.  At one point Peyton came in and started singing along and it didn't even make mom mad.

She sang until she fell asleep and even after she fell asleep she would sort of mumble or hum her new song and was a really nice way to end the day. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Can't Win for Losing

No idea if it was a common saying or not, but growing up, "Can't win for losing." was one of my mom's favorite sayings.  And she had a lot of faves.  Hotter'n Ole Billy By Dern, Older than Mathuzalah, 6 a-one, Hot enough to bake eggs....stuff like that!

Anyway, at 5:48pm yesterday I knew exactly what "can't win for losing" meant.

Peyton and I had "Meet the Teacher" at her school last night.  And she was great about sharing with mom what would be happening - finding her room, getting her schedule, seeing which friends she had class with, seeing her teachers from last year, getting her locker - all that.  And mom seemed to be so pleased to listen to Peyton - totally showing interest and smiling. 

I talked to mom over and over about MTT and the PTA meeting and showed her the Box Tops we have been working on.  She smiled again, seemed to be pleased that we were including her. 

But like I said before, it was a jam-packed day.  I tried to sit down with mom for about an hour before it was time to leave.  I can sit with her and then run upstairs and do one thing or run into the kitchen or laundry room and do one thing and then come back and sit down again.  It allows me to get things done and for mom to not feel neglected.  I was able to get my makeup and hair done in little sections - I wonder if mom noticed my step-by-step transformation.  Every time I came downstairs I was just a tiny bit more presentable!

I even ordered pizza last night - a bargaining chip to get Murph more excited about staying home and being in charge of dinner.  A bargaining chip for mom too - she loves pizza!

All was well until it was time for me to take the girls to the school.  I logically know that mom can't remember, but I am still baffled when she acts like she doesn't know that we are leaving even though we have been talking about it all day.  That was when I realized "you can't win for losing".  She was seated at the table - pizza, freshly brewed cup of coffee and grapes in front of her, her very handsome grandson as her dinner date and when I said, "Mom, remember, I have to take Peyton and her friend to Meet the Teacher at her school?" she curled up a sneer and said "Well, I supposed they do that...whether it's dinner time or not...  But it doesn't seem very polite...not that it makes any difference I suppose....I'll just sit here..."...and that's all I heard.  We had to go and nothing I could say would make her happy that we were leaving. 

She apparently ate a good meal, was great with Keaton, complimented the coffee and told him how much she loved pizza.  She didn't dwell on us not being there - she never even asked where we were.  She sat with him in the family room for a bit and went in to sit in the living room when her ran out to tell the rest of his fundraising coupons.

That's where we found her when we got home.  Fine as wine.  Trying so hard to understand and be interested in Peyton's new teachers and her experience at the school.  We even made her a big ole dish of coffee ice cream to eat while P and I had our pizza - mom can't remember that she's already eaten.  Bad part of that is - the ice cream was much more interesting to mom than anything we had to say.  It's disappointing in a way, but it's reality and it doesn't do much good to get your feelings hurt.

Every day is different, every day is a lesson, and every day is a blessing.  Win or lose!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Busy Friday for everyone but Mom

Today is shaping up to be one of those days where if you don't plan and execute everything perfectly, something will crash or someone will cry or something will get missed.

I, selfishly, HAD to get to TKP to swim - I am on a pretty impressive roll (for me) and I don't want to quit and lose this momentum.  Keaton has his first football scrimmage.  I have 2 doctor appointments.  Peyton has a play date.  Patrick has to work at 3:00.  Keaton wants to sell his last 5 fundraiser coupons.  I have a PTA meeting.  Tonight is "Meet the Teacher" at PHIS.  And mom needs all the things mom needs.

I am a planner.  This is not a gray area.  I am an alarm-clock-setting-pack-the-night-before-over-communicating-list-making planner.  I make myself and those around me nuts.  Part of what makes me nuts is this new situation with mom.  It doesn't matter if I tell her what is planned for the day or if I put it on the calendar or if I write it on a note and tape it to her walker.  She won't remember.  This is different than if she has an appointment...those "stick" and although she can't remember details, she knows something is about to happen.  My stuff, the kids' stuff, Patrick's stuff, Sophie's stuff - could care less.  No room in the vault for that.  So I listen to her complain about there not being enough to do - all the while I'm folding laundry, cooking her breakfast, doing dishes, feeding the dog, watering the plants, making beds, helping Peyton and trying to stay in touch with Patrick to see how Murph's scrimmage is going.  (and YES, I am also dealing with the resentment of not being able to be there, but after mom's behavior yesterday with Peyton, no WAY am I leaving her here alone with mom....that just wouldn't be nice...and it's a scrimmage, not a game...but it's his first and I never miss firsts anymore...sigh...).

She is in rare form this morning.  Doesn't want to do her memory games, doesn't want to work the crossword, read the paper, look at a magazine, watch tv or work the jigsaw puzzle.  She is sitting in the red room gazing out the window and sighing at the rate of one long sigh per 3 minutes and 2-3 short sighs with some mumbling to show her displeasure, in between.  It makes me sad.  And not thinking of mom for a minute and thinking of me and P - it's a lot of pressure to fix it.  We like it when mom is happy, we feel accomplished when she smiles and sings and 'da-da-dums'.  But today we can't find the magic activity or conversation or show.  ARRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!  Oh well, as long as we are trying our best and not taking her displeasure personally...I guess all will be well. 

Time to help Peyton pack her school supplies for MTT tonight.  Gotta get that checked off my list before I leave for the doctor.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Found it!

There are days when I am pretty amazed by my patience with my new life.  I have lots of "techniques" to help me find my center during the stress moments - counting to 10, prayer, finding the beauty in something, being thankful, laughing, watching food tv or just running upstairs to make a bed or fold some laundry.

Truth is - I don't really think about the effort it takes to be patient until I am talking to someone about my day or they ask questions and I explain some of the conversations and rituals mom and I go through daily.  One of my friends asked me the other day - "so, where is your breaking point?"

Today I found it!

It's a long story with no one at fault, BUT mom raised her voice at my daughter today and apparently - that's my breaking point!  I was still pretty darned patient considering, but I was ticked!  The worst part of the entire episode was my mom's inability to show any compassion or good manners or heart.  Alzheimer's is a cruel disease - for so many reasons, but especially for this.

Luckily, we had to leave for dance shortly after the ugliness and although I could tell mom had a vague recollection of "something" happening, but by the time we got back - it was over.  If I let myself think about it - I can tell I am still angry.  If I talk about it - it's funny, sad, frustrating and I don't feel the anger.

Luckily #2, we are 10 minutes from bedtime routine and I can do anything for 10 minutes.  In classic bedtime fashion - we are focused on what day it is and what day tomorrow is.  She also has started talking in her loudest voice to no one in particular about how she really isn't tired...and then she nods off...and then she wakes up and says it's too early to go to bed...and then she nods off...7 minutes to go.

I wonder if my mom ever came to my defense like I did for Peyton today?  I can't remember it if she did.  I wonder if Peyton will remember this.  I love the line in "Only You" where Marisa Tomei says "I know he'd fight tigers for you."  I've always known I'd fight tigers for my family - who knew mom could be a tiger!?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Out for lunch with mom.  Busy restaurant.  Using mom's walker for a chair saving space and feeling special!

Weird Reality

I'm so glad that mom is starting to feel at home in our home - calling her room HER room, identifying specific places for all her things to go, occasionally watching tv in there and now, going there when our house gets a bit too overwhelming!

The down side has everything to do with her lack of memory.  When she was at Meadowlakes, I guess she knew she was a boarder (is that even still a word?).  But we keep emphasizing that this is her home too and to make yourself at home and wherever you want to sit and whatever makes you most comfortable...I may have overdone that a bit.

This morning I got home from swimming (and YES, I did rock it!) and Patrick was coming out to head over to see Murph's football practice so we stopped and talked in the driveway.  Sophie must have seen us and Sophie LOVES her humans.  My guess is she came to the door and did that very cute standing at the window thing she does and mom got up to let her out! 

Sophie is a sweet dog but would never be referred to as a well-behaved dog and we never let her out front without a leash.  Even with her leash, she is an enthusiastic wanderer and really hard to keep up with - so imagine the beast roaming free in the neighborhood!

So when the front door opened and mom in her nighty and Sophie in her enthusiasm peeked out - and me without any random bacon in my pockets! - I was stuck in a weird reality.  Not to act too anxious so Sophie wouldn't pick up on the fact that she was NOT going out on an early morning adventure.  Not to act too frantic so mom wouldn't get defensive and we would have to spend the entire morning coming out of that dark place.  And all of those thoughts happening in 2 seconds or less....well, maybe 5 seconds, because I have to admit, when the door opened I had to stop for a second and process the whole picture and not giggle.  Mom is a hot mess in the morning - hair wild, nighty less than flattering, and still in that semi-awake funk.  And peeking out the door - she and Sophie matched - hair, wild eyes and that look of trying to get away with something big! 

I did the best I could - Sophie never made it down the walk and neither did mom.  I probably over-explained why Sophie can't be let out the front door and mom started to get defensive and say things that very likely are true in her mind, but aren't true in the non-ALZ world.  That used to make me angry, but now it's just another part of the weird reality.  Anyway, I gave her some time and space and by the time she finally got up - we just went at our morning like any other morning - but 45 minutes later than usual.

I'm going to pay the price for that today - meal times are all stacking up on each other - I'll get it back to normal by dinner - hopefully.  If not, small price to pay for having my dog safe and sound and my mom none the wiser!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Whistle While You Work

Actually, it's more like Hum While You're At the Doctor's Office - but definitely musical!

Today, mom had a doctor's appointment and I made the decision not to tell her about it before it was nearly time to leave.  I often wonder about the impact of lying in front of the kids - I mean, she point-blank asked me if she had anything to do today and I said NO.  But, if I do tell her about an appointment or that I have to leave to do something, she spends all her energy worrying about it.

Well, not actually worrying about IT, but about something - it gets stuck in there and she worries - frets - bites her nails - mumbles - starts and doesn't finish questions about "IT" - and can't eat or drink.  It's just not worth it.

So today, I didn't tell her and then when it was time to leave - it was an adventure.  She likes the appointments where all the attention is on her - especially when it's just for an INR check - no sickness, no lab work - just a finger poke and a lot of people fussing over her.  All of that with the bonus of a car ride!

My point is, she was in a good mood and she decided to show it by random humming and da-da-dumming - and she put some volume behind it!  Who cares, right?  She was joyful and she wanted to sing.  It made me smile.  And then it made me wonder - was it disrupting anyone else in the waiting room?  And then I decided she was joyful and who cares?  and then I went back the other way....and THEN - mom busted out in her version of "Yo Ho Blow the Man Down!"!!!  And she knew she was being loud and silly and she was just daring the world to say something.  Go Mom!

I decided at this stage of our game - Joy far outweighs decorum!  once again - Yay Mom!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Darned if I do, darned if I don't!

Life lesson learned living with Alzheimer's - certain things "stick"

for instance:  mom will ask every morning where everyone is - thinking we are at Meadowlakes and wondering aloud where all the other women are that she used to have breakfast with.  BUT if I set down more than 2 placemats at the table she will ask who else is coming to breakfast or if there is room for her at the table...strange phenomenon

my newest 3-times-a-day challenge is Sophie.  She begs!  And mom constantly sneaks her the healthy food that she doesn't want to eat and Sophie is always an optimist!  If I feed Sophie before we sit down to eat - she begs and mom asks if she is hungry.  "Nope, she just ate!" we all answer with smiles in our voices.  "She sure looks hungry - did she eat?", mom asks.  and round and round it goes until I finally have to put Sophie in her kennel so we can talk about something (anything) else. 

If I wait to feed Sophie until after we are done (how we always used to do it before mom came to live with us) she begs and mom asks if she is hungry.  "She'll be fine - she always eats right after we finish eating." we all say with smiles in our voices.  "Poor little doggie - she looks so hungry." and we have another round and round until I finally have to put Sophie in her kennel. 

I'm thinking of going vegan to ease this pain - Sophie doesn't beg for fruit, salad, oatmeal, etc - just eggs, meat, cheese - of course then I'd have to listen to the kids complain about that - and mom would starve - she never met a vegetable she was very fond of except the tomato.

I guess this is another one of those Alzheimer Catch 22's!  Who knows?  Maybe Sophie will learn table manners yet!