Sorry I have been away from my blog for quite a long stretch. I hope this posting will kick start me again to share more musings in the coming days.
I re-read Mother’s Day Musings that I posted May 9th last year. Wow! Can you believe we are still in this soul-sucking Covid pandemic? I would never have believed it possible that the world could be turned upside down for so long. I would have laughed out loud if 2-3 years ago someone had said “Gaye, you won’t be seeing clients in person, only over Zoom and that will last for what will feel like a hundred years”. I MISS MY PEEPS!
Two years ago zooming with someone would have brought to mind a foggy memory of the 70’s hit song “Zoom”, by the Commodores. I had always loved their song EASY, “Easy like Sunday morning,” which it is today. It hasn’t been too easy on my dear old mom of late. She continues to remain in the land of the not quite dead, not really alive state that is dementia. In my mind the worst form of purgatory that is just awful to witness. Loss and grief comes in many different forms, but with Alzheimer’s it’s losing them bit by bit.
Death defying Dottie, Triple D as I have been calling her lately, recently had a respiration incident which would have taken anyone else out, but not her. She had excellent paramedic care and although she has a do not resuscitate order, because she would never want to live the way she has been living, losing her mind and her ability to walk, it fell through the cracks. In the middle of the worst of the pandemic she ended up in the epicentre, Brampton Civic Hospital. After 6 days of being admitted into this very overworked war zone, no visitors or caregivers allowed, she survived and I got her busted out of there and back home. As my husband said, the one good thing about dementia is that she won’t remember how terrified she must have been, lying alone in a hospital with no one to soothe her or tell her what was going on. In anticipation of her return, we moved the hospital bed down to the main floor and put a large TV in front of it. Within hours her amazing caregiver, Hermie, had her hair in curlers and her lipstick on, the most exquisite smelling body lotion slathered on, to somehow soothe her tired soul. I climbed into the bed with her and we managed to polish off two ice cream bars in record time. She was starving. Near death experiences tend to make me hungry too. I have had a few and I always want to eat after them.
My mother made me promise when I was a little girl that I would never stick her in a nursing home and if I did, she would come back to haunt me. She also said that if she ever found herself in a nursing home and they expected her to eat that “pureed sh-t” she would spit it out at them. The hospital staff had been trying to give her what my mom affectionately calls “baby diarrhea in a bowl.” I know this because one of the great doctors who was looking after her phoned and said she was refusing all food and what should they do? I laughed and asked if it was gourmet puree, and they laughed back, a marvel with the overworked state that they are all in, and said yes it was, as they were afraid solid food would cause her to aspirate. I said give her some ice cream bars and she will be fine. That was against protocol so she had to wait for a while.
A friend of mine Sonia, who actually created this beautiful website for me is going through the sad experience of her mom dying. She gave me the most wonderful idea – watch Mr. Bean as she does with her mom. Mr. Bean is fantastic. He is basically non-verbal and you don’t have to follow any verbal dialogue that can be very confusing for Alzheimer folk, so we now eat vast quantities of ice cream bars, only the very best kinds, and I am getting caught up in all the Mr. Bean shows I used to watch long ago with my kids.
Oh, how we come full circle with our mom’s. It wouldn’t seem that long ago to her that she was changing my diapers, feeding me gourmet puree, and fiddling with the rabbit ears on our old television set, so I could watch Leave it to Beaver in all its’ black and white, kinda fuzzy, glory. How the time passes. It feels like yesterday I had my own babies to take care of – feeding, diapering, celebrating the wins, hugging the hurts away. Unlike the busyness of parenting your own I can now take the time to sit quietly and watch Mr. Bean go on his adventures. I laugh a big belly laugh when he is being ridiculous and then laugh even more when I can see my mom able to track the show and the humor, and for a brief moment make the brain synapse connection appropriately and instead of looking stricken and so overwhelmed by the realizations, fleeting now, but the understanding that she is missing what she was and what she knew. Mr. Bean and laughing with her is mindfulness in the moment.
The very best thing my mother ever did for me was to have the foresight to buy a family cottage, a meeting place, in 1972. My siblings and I got to grow up in nature, by the water, two important features for my mental and physical health today. This purchase was an opportunity for 5 children, 12 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren to come together and have time to forge memories that last a lifetime. My mom’s face still lights up at the word cottage, her happy place. Although she struggled with depression her whole life, she came alive there surrounded by her family which meant everything to her. She taught me the gift of being present, especially over a Scrabble board, and that the best present we can ever give to our children is our presence.
The best present I can now give to my mom this Mother’s Day is climbing back into that hospital bed, holding hands, watching Mr. Bean, and eating ice cream bars. It doesn’t matter that she won’t remember me two minutes after I leave. Deep in the recesses of a mother’s heart all the love and memory of a lifetime resides, and even when dementia eradicates memory, I have to believe that the love between a mom and her child remains firmly in place, forever.
Happy Mother’s Day.