I can’t see my mom this Mothers’ Day because of Covid and hospital rules. Even if I could, she might not recognize me or understand it’s a special day.
She’s gone this year, although she hasn’t passed away yet. Her brain is not working as it did before last November. She’s not the same mama I depended upon most of my life in one way or another.
She fell in her bedroom the night before the election she was looking forward to watching. Her head hit either her handicap bar or her dresser so hard she got a severe blow on her left temple. It bled inside her head, where it mattered most. After several days’ stay in ICU for a brain bleed (a subdural hematoma), she was released to a regular hospital room. She spent a few weeks in the hospital, but they told us that she might not recover from the brain injury at her age.
At first, we hoped she would come back as she was — or at least close. Sometimes people do, but they are usually not older people. She’s 91.
Until her fall, she lived alone, drove herself to the hairdresser, bank, shopped, kept her house spotless, and had more phone calls from friends and relatives than anyone I know. Once a week or so, she took herself to a local diner for some good catfish.
It was just so sudden. The Life Alert necklace she wore went off, and I went to her house to find her sitting on the floor of her bedroom…dazed with a huge black and blue knot on her head enlarging before my eyes. We lost the mother we knew that night without getting to tell her goodbye. Because now she sometimes doesn’t recognize who we are, or if we say goodbye when we’re going home across town, she doesn’t understand that we’ll be back the next day.
She frequently sees chickens in her house, which is a little bit funny…unless she’s your mom. Our mom always had it together. She now also hallucinates that there are people in her house to hurt her. She hallucinated that a caregiver bathing her was a man raping her. She sometimes gets so agitated she becomes combative, and the nurses have to watch out. They told me they learned that if she tells you she’s “going to knock the shit out of you,” that she will do what she says she’s going to do. At least they get a warning.
My mother would never have hit anyone for any reason except to spank our bottoms when we were young and very naughty.
Even last year, she was my very best friend. Before Covid, we ate out together every Sunday.
Now she told her nurse yesterday that she didn’t think children should have been invented. That was after my sister irritated her on the phone by telling her she needed to take her medicine as the nurse was asking her to do.
One day, she told me I was responsible for all the trouble she had in her life and said I’d been her nemesis since I was born.
We don’t even have what’s left of our mom to visit this Mothers’ Day because we’ve placed her in a Senior Behavioral Center for two weeks so her medicines can be assessed and adjusted. We’re hoping they can do more than we’ve done in the past to modify her behavior. Even if just a little bit — so she’ll go to bed at night and take her medicines without a fuss; Or not roll around the house in her wheelchair all night long exhausting herself and her caregiver. She can walk a little with her walker, so she sometimes gets up and walks and then gets too tired and is apt to fall again. The fact that she can get up on her walker makes it all the scarier when she tries to get out of bed alone and shakily tries to find her way to the bathroom.
We sent her flowers for Mothers’ Day. I hope she can see them and understands they were sent to her by her daughters and who love her. But I’m not sure that will be the case. She will likely see them as part of the decor or won’t notice them unless the nurses draw her attention to them.
Looking for ways to tell her we love her tomorrow, although we aren’t allowed to be there or see her, I sent a card, too. But it makes me cry to think that she can no longer read more than a few words at a time and loses patience with it after that. I hope the nurses will read it to her and that she will be able A few things she occasionally can still do. I’m thankful for those and hope we can keep those little treasures and moments with our “real” mama throughout this awful journey through dementia. When we hug her and tell her we love her, and she still says, “I love you, too.” The other day my sister and I were sitting on each side of her on her sofa, and she put her arms around us both and said, “my little girls.” Of course, it made us both cry.
She’s still in there someplace.