I have been my mother’s helper for a very long time. She is 78 now and I will be 58 at end of the year. She has told me before that when I was very small that she felt like I knew more than she did and that I was even judging her. She said as she tended my little sister she would glance over at me and I would be looking at her as if I were thinking “that’s not right.” She laughed when she shared this. After all, we’re talking about a toddler. Maybe all mothers feel this way. Since I am not a mother I guess I’ll never know.
Sometimes when I try to remember life before dementia the memories do not come. I either draw a blank or it feels like a story that belongs to someone else. That girl whose best friend was her mother. That laughing teenager. That first job. That first kiss. None of it seems real. Is that right? Do you feel that way?
Several years ago Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A Couple of years later her diagnosis was changed to Vascular dementia. Regardless of the label it is heartbreaking and hard. So very, very hard. I had absolutely no idea of how hard it actually would be.
Nothing can prepare you for it. You can read all the articles you want. Talk to a multitude of people who have walked the same path. But until you are in the middle of it, you just don’t know. Earlier this month it became so hard that I wanted to just give up.
Yet the burden does not rest entirely upon my shoulders. Fortunately my mother is surrounded by others who also see to her needs And are concerned with her well being. They also ask the same questions as I do. Is she safe? Is she happy? Does she have all that she needs?
And that’s why we had to move her. Because those basic questions were not being answered in a positive way. She was not happy. Who would be happy if they are just warehoused away? Cared for by an army of ever changing, revolving door of caregivers? A company filled with untrained and uneducated employees. I would not call them caregivers because they did not care. Care is shown in your actions. I could care less about what you say. But I will sit up and listen to what you do.
So that brings me back to the darkness that descended on me from seemingly out of nowhere. The burden became too much. I felt I had completely failed my mother. I also felt I had made huge sacrifices to other things that are important in my life, including my marriage and my job.
But I’m back on the path of sanity, at least I think I am. All the proverbial balls have crashed to the ground. Some of those I have thrown in the trash. Some I have lovingly laid aside and may pick them up again some day.
One thing I have picked back up is this blog. I’ve been told that it would be helpful to either journal or blog. So blog it is! I’m not afraid to drag my dirty laundry and darkness out for all the world to see.
But most importantly I have to remember that I am still Mama’s little helper.