Retro Tuesday 10-1-2019

Hearts are breaking…

 Yesterday, I came home from work to find my mother has been placed under Hospice Care.  She has suffered Parkinsons for many years, slowly moving further and further away into a world far beyond our reach. I have watched her turn inward, slowly losing the ability to walk, then stand, to move or feed herself.  She suffered hallucinations of trespassers living behind the shed; my Dad dating other women; imaginary people in the house.  And always that she wasn’t home.  Hallucinations, the doctors assured my father, caused by her medicines.

Day by day, she wasted away, thinner and more inward each time I visited. What was the point of ‘going home’ if it wasn’t really home?  No place could be home without my mother, even the house in which I’d lived until I married. Regardless of the fact she and I fought throughout my childhood and adolescence, me to break free and her to mold my life to her expectations, no place felt like home without her.

When I became an adult and learned to live with manic depression, and she learned to let go, we became friends.  She was my strongest supporter.  No matter when I called or what I called about, she listened.  Going through years of marriage and an inevitable divorce, she listened.  She never had harsh words, at least in front of me.  Now she is leaving slowly, bit by bit, day by day, a frozen statue of herself.

Nobody in the family bore any illusions Mom would ever get better.  You don’t get better from Parkinsons.  Betrayed by her body, she lives locked in a prison from which there is no escape.  At first, her mind remained, but that too has faded, gone just as her ability to speak, open her eyes, or stand.

My Father took care of her at home until he fell ill and ended up in the hospital.  I was charged with getting Mom into respite care, a horrible decision, but the only one available.  She couldn’t care for herself and, even if my sister or I could stay at the house until Dad was better, we were barely able to life her out of the bed on her final day at home.  Days later, Dad came home from the hospital.  We all knew that she wouldn’t be going home with him.  Caring for her exhausted him to the bone, leaving him with no strength or ability to do so anymore.

On the hour journey from the house-that-was-no-longer-home to the Assisted-Living Faculty, she cried only once.  I had been afraid she would cry the entire time, but soon discovered her silence and the knowledge I alone was taking her to the place she had always feared, hurt even worse.  All during her illness, she feared being left and forgotten in a nursing home.  And here I was taking her there.

The first week or so at the faculty, she ate and responded normally.  When I visited, she cried.  The only words able to stop the tears was my promise to take her home as soon as Dad was strong again.  But I won’t.  She won’t ever go home again.  Her last ride will be in the back of a hearse as she goes back to the town that was her home for so many years, to the friends and family grieving her loss.

She stopped responding to anything this past week.  She’s stopped eating.  She’s given up.  I can feel it in her.  So many words have never  been said.  The last time she responded to me, I told her, I promised her, I would take her home when Dad was ready.  I told her that I loved her.  I told her that I missed her so much.  Her thin, frail, fingers clutched mine as I held her hand, almost as if she was telling me she understood.  Now, if only I understood.

 

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3 thoughts on “Retro Tuesday 10-1-2019

  1. How I feel for you. This cruel disease affects more than the sufferer, who experiences the hardest cut of all.
    I lost my Mum to dementia in January 2018. She had been living with my sister for 23 years, 22 of which were after my dad died. We lived 300 odd miles away and could not visit as often as we wanted. At first, Mum was able to come for holidays under her own steam on the coach and would stay a month, sometimes 5 weeks, once 2 months. It was great to have her and spoil her, treating her to little outings and walks in the woods with the dog.
    I told her I loved her at every opportunity, held and hugged her when we did visit and engaged her in conversation of things long ago when we were kids.
    Dementia took a strain on everyone. I believe my sister felt we didn’t care, accusing me of shirking my responsibility, but despite being asked on numerous occasions, Mum didn’t want to live with us. I wrote twice a week during the last year. Phoning upset her because she didn’t know the voice, once demanding to put Di on the phone as I was not her daughter. We took her for ice cream on Sept 4th 2017, Sis put her in a home on 30th September 2017, we visited her there December 2017. She was admitted to hospital with a broken wrist Christmas Eve. I spoke to her often, and wrote c/o the hospital. Three days before she died, I rang and spoke to her. She knew who I was and told me she loved me.
    I said I loved her too, glad to know that my last letter had arrived OK.
    I’m comfortable with the thought she and Dad are together again. My sister and I, already not close, have little if any contact. It saddens me, but I cannot change what is.

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