Nichole and I headed to my hometown Sat morning, a 6 hour trip to Illinois, to see my Mom who had been literally begging me to come home.........then had drummed up some legal/money issue to make me think it was an urgent need for me to come home. I have seen my Mom at least once a year, but the last time I stepped foot in my hometown was 15 yrs ago. Money, cars that wouldn't make it, life in general getting in the way.......the fact that I hate the drive, lots of reasons. But the girls had promised my teary eyed mom last year when she visited us that we'd visit her this year, and well, I have an issue about promises. If I make a promise, I keep it. No excuses. (I rarely promise anything for this reason) So......Nichole mapped out a rural highway route and we headed off. Timing made it so that we were able to get there on her 75th birthday.
The drive with Nichole was quite simply a blast. She'd never driven that distance before and she successfully navigated the cincy interstate just fine after only 2 hrs of sleep. We did great following her mapped out route. It was lovely scenery along the way, no boring put you to sleep interstate.
The joy in my Mom's eyes when she answered the door was worth it. Honestly it was. Each time I see her though it's like a fist in the heart because since I don't see her often I notice every new change.
I noticed almost immediately she can't keep straight who she is talking to (by name I mean) or who she is talking about......I'm not quite sure if she doesn't sometimes forget who you are for a few minutes. I also noticed immediately, because I had an overfull bladder, that she is writing her name and address on every single object she feels she either needs or wants to keep from a bottle of Lysol floor cleaner to pillow cases. (no joke that was disturbing to see) I asked her about it and she said it's because people keep coming into the house and taking her things. Random items from valuable things (to her at least) to silly little items no one would possibly want. This part is the paranoid schizo junk I've deal with my entire life, so at least I'm familiar with it. It disturbs me because it means it's reached a whole new level. But I know why it has. She shows the classic signs of dementia. So with "forgetting" often........yeah. And she does forget often. I thought my short term memory was bad until I saw hers. omg Not all the time. Hers seems to be random too......but I noticed an increase when there are more people around and she's trying to do more than one thing at a time. (including talking to more than one person at a time)
These are not things I've noticed on the phone. Most likely because she's only talking to me. And well, when she does the name mix up thing I just attributed it to age and inserted the right name myself and thought nothing of it. Because shoot I didn't threaten to name pc Talisasue (Tami, Lisa, Sue) for nothing. She's always had times when she mixed up our names. kwim? But in her home......with other things I saw.......dementia. She's not only forgetting but losing time and mixing up sequences of events.
Physically.....wow. That was an eye opener. Mom neglects to tell me when she has medical procedures done. I found out about the hip replacements and cataract surgeries after the fact, same with the heart surgeries. Fortunately my eldest sis came and took care of her. While sis is not exactly the most mentally stable person either (bipolar unmediated) she did take pretty good care of Mom during that time. She walks just fine. But many years back she fell and the way she landed face forward hands down on the pavement shattered both arms & shoulders. The next year, she did it again. After that she regained use and seemed to be fine well.......I didn't notice much last year but she came here and she just sits and visits so I'm not going to see much either. It's agony for her to move her hands up above her shoulders. I have no clue how she manages to do her hair, even to brush it or to dress. It does explain her new obsession with button front shirts when she used to hate them. She can't lift a pot to the stove without much difficulty.
Driving.....omg. It's not her eyes now, even with the glaucoma. Once she had the eye surgery for the cataracts she sees better than I do. It's the well heck I dunno what it is.....confusion maybe? I asked her to take me to some of the places of my childhood. We could've taken Nichole's car except mom loaded it down with possessions. (I'll get back to this) So Mom is driving. Now I grew up in a rural city of about 100,000 people. But I spent as much time in smaller rural towns where my grandma, mom and aunts and uncles grew up. I wanted Nichole to see the small town that her great great grandfather founded, which is also where my grandma is buried. So she's driving through town and it's not so bad except by now I've realized turning it hard for her because she has to ooch the steering wheel due to her shoulders. Several times I had to help her make turns from the passenger seat while pretending oh I just do this everyday for people, ya know. omg We get out of town. These are rural highways she's driven her entire life. We come to a place in the highway where they've made a turn lane with a medium for the opposite direction........she's chatting away and she took the wrong way around the medium and was now driving on the wrong side of the road. I didn't freak because there was no other traffic except us at the time. (thank god) Instead I calmly said Mom you might want to get over on your own side of the road and be careful not to over compensate when you do it...........and I got to the not over compensate part when she DID over compensate and jerked the car so hard that I thought I might have to take control of the wheel. But I kept talking calmly to her as if I have near death misses like that every morning after one cup of coffee and she calmed down and did ok. But she was confused about what she'd done wrong and could not figure out how she'd wound up in the wrong lane. I told her not to worry about it. Once we got to the cemetery I was taking over the driving. Scary part of that is she'd just passed her driving exam. Holy Moses!
While we were visiting with her.........I noticed in the bedroom she had Nichole and I using she had all the old family photos lined up on the dresser. So I asked her about it as it's a rather odd thing to see. They were not in frames and many of these photos she would not display like that because when I say old I'm talking about my great grandmother......Yeah. She said she put them out there so whoever is coming in taking things won't have to dig through stuff and take them, they could just take them and be done with it. So then she decided I and Nichole needed to take the ones we wanted. No wasn't an option. So I took ones precious to me & also ones that I knew were precious to her. The latter I did with good reason, the paranoia. (stay with me, I'll explain) Next, she started on her home decor. Nichole and I argued with her. Her home is literally full of home interior decor from the 80's when she bought the house and an aunt of mine sold it......several thousand dollars of the stuff (god only knows what it could go for now as it's considered "vintage") beautiful stuff that my step dad made her buy because my aunt needed the money and he hated plain walls while Mom loves plain walls. I was shocked when she bought it and put it up because I knew the mother I knew would never ever do such a thing. But still, we didn't just want to take her stuff. Well then she explains she is just waiting for my bro's to get out of the house so she can contact the realtor and get it up for sale and get the hades out of town. She plans to take NOTHING with her except some clothes. So........we spent the first day upon arrival loading Nichole's car to bursting with items she was determined to give us. I learned with MIL........go with the flow, if it's what they want, it's what they want, it makes them feel better to know it went to someone who will enjoy and appreciate it.
In the middle of that I told her several times that when she calls me in the next few days sobbing because someone took her photos and the decor and such that she was determined we have, I'm going to tell her it is over here and it's safe. She kept telling me she wouldn't do that, but I know that call is coming. And I'll talk her down like I always do and she'll feel better. Here she knows it's safe, whether from an imaginary thief or not. kwim? Bro also knows we took it and that she was opening basically forcing us to because he arrived to visit during it.
Ok. So Mom just has to show me younger bro's farm. Now I really don't give jack squat about bro's farm. The man is renting for one thing, so big deal, he might be there 6 mos. lol But with Mom, you go with the flow. So we go to bro's farm. It's not really a big deal except when we arrived the fine hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Then Mom needed to use the bathroom and I needed a cigarette so stay outside with bro. He asked me to please watch her closely, said he wouldn't tell me why, but please watch her and he'd talk to me later about it. I said that's fine I would. Then Mom has to take me on the Grand Tour (she does this with everyone in a new place) and I get chills to go with the hairs on the back of my neck thing. Oh goody.
Why? Because I recognize the house immediately. In fact, so much so that I could've given my Mom the tour. I dreamed about my bro's farmhouse some 15 plus yrs ago shortly before my grandpa died. Swear to heaven above. Everything was the exact same. And this is one of those old farm houses that start off teeny and get added on to a room at a time so come out looking strange in the floor plan so it's not like I might have seen one like it.......kwim? In the dream we were gathered in what is the sunroom, all us kids discussing a very serious topic of grave importance. Now I couldn't quite catch what that topic was, these dreams don't always work that way. So when my grandpa died I assumed that it had to do with that. I often get warnings someone I care about is about to pass. (and that's about what it takes to get us all in one spot at the same time so it was a reasonable assumption ) So I'm standing there in that same sun room thinking to myself WTH?? Then I step back outside........I'd also stepped outside in the dream for a break in the rather intense discussion........and suddenly got a different view of the grain silos and barns and omg......there we go again. ugh Threw me right off stride.
Now I'm telling things out of order because I'm tired. Bro's farm was saturday in the middle of loading up the car because we were supposed to have supper together. I'd tried to take Mom to Red Lobster but she insisted on going to a church dinner instead. So, I'd not seen very much of her current condition at that time.
I did tell Nichole on the way home that I'd dreamed of bro's farm and now I was sort of wth with the meaning........what was being discussed. I told her I was glad we'd went home. As I was wondering with the drastic rapid changes I was seeing just how much time Mom might have left.......I sort of wondered if it meant we were going to lose her soon, because it wouldn't be a stretch that the serious discussion to be like a reading of the will type thing.
But then bro called to see if I'd observed anything during my visit with mom. And I knew where he was going before he even said it. It's obvious it's not safe for her to live alone anymore. I saw enough to convince me of that even in the short time I was there. Sure she might keep her bills paid ect but daily living activities are too much for her for the most part. You can't cook if you can't lift your pans and you can't compensate for that by eating out if you can't drive to get there. That alone is enough that she needs to have someone with her. And I told him what I observed. He said well, he didn't want to "put her away" or anything like that because it would just set the paranoia off full tilt and she'd be in a living hades all her own until the day she died and well......he can't do that to her. He'd like to see her go to family like myself or sis in texas, but he doesn't want her doing that without us seeing what we'd be taking on and able to judge if we could handle it. I assured him I could not only handle mom with dementia, I could handle her paranoia......I mean c'mon, I'd been trying to get them out of denial about that for years now! omg He had to live with her all this time for it to smack him across the face. I knew in no uncertain terms in HS. geez! Sis in texas? Won't believe a word he says. Won't admit mom has a darned thing. Is siding with mom that it is all bro and Stormy trying to make mom think she's crazy.
Now........while bro is no saint, he's always been a momma's boy if you get my drift. He loves her. In the past he's always been the one to come do for her. Yes, we all know that Stormy is playing the situation to her advantage, and yes I had no doubt that sneaky little so and so has been playing with Mom's head from the first moment mom enforced a rule. Stormy has never been forced to follow rules. And it took bro nearly too long to catch on that Stormy was messing with mom and making mom's symptoms over the top worse. He's since nailed her fanny to the barn door over it and so far even Mom says she's backed off for the most part, but she's still pulling stuff. It just took mom calling the cops and going to have Stormy not only hauled off to jail but cause bro to lose custody for his eyes to open. Because even crazy mom won't usually go that far so he started paying closer attention to what the kid was doing.
But bro says that mom has good & bad days. He doesn't know if she's got Alzheimer's or just dementia on top of the schizo but the combination makes living with her a nightmare. He understands that the memory issues and the losing time (I saw this, he's not lying) making her get things out of sequence is not only triggering the paranoia but actively making it worse. He just doesn't know how to help her and he is frustrated beyond his limits. He told me of many more symptoms, and honestly.......knowing what I both saw and know about Mom, while I can't be totally positive, it's not only believable but reasonable given the circumstances. He says we all need to get together to discuss how we're going to handle this.
And so now I know what that serious discussion thing in the farmhouse that I now know is my bro's farmhouse is all about. Holy Smokes. (and yes, I sometimes get dreams such as this many many years in advance.....like I said I don't understand the rules)