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!