On the theme of “Letting Go” from the last post, I’d like to share I’m on a vacation of sorts. I’m back in Austin, TX were I started to create a new life for myself in 2009 after my family lost our business. My mom’s doctor said I would know when to come back home, to support my mom. He was right.
Take a listen to this podcast of a storytelling performance I did at a bar called Martyrs’. In 2009, I left Chicago ready to start over and in 2010 I was pulled back into the fold of our Alzheimer’s fight.
We are ten years into my mom’s diagnosis and I’m learning to “let go of things”.
Like many of you, I’ve mourned not only the person (who is still living), but all our traditions, including Christmas. With a father who passed away in 1973, it was Judy as the matriarch holding all customs in place. Instead of sharing complaints and loss with this post, I’m gonna try to immortalize the special adult Christmas with used to have.
Judy spoiled us growing up, and I had an idyllic childhood, but being an adult and navigating through life with her on your side was special in a way I can never replicate. These holiday celebrations highlighted how proud our mom was of us, and embraced us as accomplished adults. It was special. Continue reading
Let’s talk about some of the good things that are happening for my mom. In thisdeteriorating mind journey, I do think Judy is now on the back end of it. The side where she isn’t so concerned about what is happening to her. She isn’t crying as much and there are more smiles and talking.
Her communication is such that she still serves up the word scramble, but if you speak to her in a kind, gentle tone – after about 10 minutes she’ll return your verbal volleys with a matched and thoughtful enthusiasm. That makes me happy.
It’s winter now in Chicago, and that means cold temps. My thoughts are with those of you who are trying to put coats, hats, scarves and mittens on dementia-riddled loved ones. As someone who lives in the “right now!”, Judy only understands the climate in the spot where she is standing at that very moment. Trying to bundle her up can be a battle.
My futile pleas for her to put on a coat (as I held it for her) sometimes graduate to me actually physically trying to put the winter coat on her body. I lace her arms through the sleeves of the same pink Columbia coat she has used for years, or attempt to. But my mom isn’t aware of our goal, and her hands routinely miss the sleeves I was hoping to thread them through. It’s actually a 50/50 chance the coat will go on with no problem. Continue reading
Amy with my mom Thanksgiving day 2015
Happy thanksgiving. This is the first year of no mom at the table or even in the house. Amy arranged a visit with her family (kiddies and husband) for mom in the morning on Thanksgiving and sent this pic.
I’m thankful mom is in a good memory care unit, and doesn’t know she isn’t celebrating Thanksgiving with us. She always put on a kick-ass turkey dinner, and her table setting gave Martha Stewart a run for her money. Lots of warm family memories there. Continue reading
I’m sure they dread me coming, and I hate bringing it up – the missing pieces in my mom’s personal care.
I know I’m a control freak – it’s cost me some relationships and I think one job, but I see things a certain way. This Alzheimer’s isn’t going my way.
Judy in 2013 – when she still lived at home. See her stylish quilted jacket from Anne Taylor and a seasonal snowflake sweater underneath from Marshall Field’s/Macy’s.
My mom is at the point in her dementia where she needs help dressing and being prompted to eat. Actually, she’s been there for a few years, now we employ caregivers to do it instead of me, my stepdad or Amy taking care of her needs.
Me and Judy outside on the patio this summer. 2015
Autumn is a melancholy time for me. While I enjoy pumpkin-flavored treats, cozy fleece jackets and a warm mug of anything (booze, broth, coffee or tea- bring it on J ), it’s the turning on the season that reminds me I don’t want to be here. It’s like last call in a bar, you’re enjoying your last drink – but you worry about where you will be later.
For me the next few months pose a challenge. Will I be able to get out of this barren land and enjoy a winter somewhere else. Somewhere warm? I escaped one year to Austin, TX and one year to San Francisco, CA. Continue reading