...with love all things are possible

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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

I need to have a rant.

If you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that Mum is in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s and occasionally I write about it.  About the things that have made me grow; things that have made me sit up and take notice; things that have made me sad. I’ve written about special days, happy memories, sad moments but most of all, I want to reach out and share with you so that you can see that there’s a whole new relationship out there for the taking, if you’re become willing to accept that the person you once knew is changing.
Having been granted the grace to accept Mummy’s Alzheimer’s, doesn’t mean I like it. I’m overprotective and at times frustrated.  Ridden with guilt many times too, because I live seven thousand kilometers away in Florida, while she lives out the winter of her life in a residential home in England.
That being said, I am privileged to be given a ticket to fly over and spend time with her, at least twice a year.  For that I will always be grateful.
When I come over, we do things together.  A lot.  Most outings are like a first for Mum and that’s fine by me.  It’s like watching a child revel in discovery and we always end up having a laugh.  I will cherish these memories.
Church is something Mum and I do together when I’m there.  A very laid-back children’s service, where she can get her fill of kiddies, babies, parents, and gaze upon the exciting hustle and bustle of life – such a difference from the slump-walk of death she has to face everyday where she lives.
Here, friends embrace her with warmth and love. 
“Hello Daphne!” they hug her.  They understand she’s nervous and struggling to keep up.  She smiles and stirs her coffee.  Puts another sugar in.  I hold her hand because when we’re together, she tells me she feels safe. 
Then along comes Penelope. Oh no! She makes eye contact with me first then looks at Mum and rolls her eyes.  She comes right up to Mum, her face three inches from Mum’s.  Mum looks at her with the same half smile, half frown, but trusts this is another friend of mine, because I greet her by name.
Her tone is so horribly nasal and condescending and she draws out every words. “Hello, Daphne.  You don’t remember me, but I don’t mind.” She laughs and winks at me
Then she turns to talk to me, ignoring the hurt look on Mum’s face.  I want to smack her! My heart breaks for Mummy, because I don’t know how to handle a situation like this one.  How on earth am I supposed to tell this woman how horribly she’s hurt my mother?
After she’s left, Mum turns to me, “Why did she say that? I’ve never met her before.”
I give her a hug.  “Don’t worry about it, Mummy, I think she’s confused.”
“Oh.  Because I’ve never seen her before.” She puts her hand in mine.
I really want to smack Penelope.  Right there, in church.  I’m sorry, God, but I do. I don’t consider myself a violent person, but that’s the feelings that races through my veins. How dare she say that to Mum?  To her face?
Penelope, however, is well intentioned most of the time. She works hard to greet every person who comes in through the doors, she bustles everyone about, she serves, she hosts, she talks, she boasts and … well … she just always seems to be there.
Perhaps I should have a heart to heart with Penelope or perhaps I should just let it go.  I’m not sure what to do, you see, because I never know what’s going to stick in Mum’s mind and what isn’t.
Problem is: if I come to talk to her, being at the end of my rope with her insensitive behavior, I might just slap her.  And that wouldn’t do any good, would it?

Thursday, 5 September 2013


Flowing our writings:   with pieces stolen, borrowed and copied from friends in the turret. With thanks to Jill, Lynn, Claire, Claudia, Julia, and Val.  Magical evening...

“Why, the old dears of the parish haven’t had so much to talk about for years,” Eleanor said, picking her cuticles.
“Really?  What happened?” Vi prompted with a poke in the ribs as the train hurtled down the tracks to Brighton.
“Well, you know these teenagers of untamed temperament…all snuggled together like cats in a basket one moment…and the next…” Eleanor paused, rolling her eyes. “Well.  Right out there in the park, I’ll tell you!”
“Really? What happened?”
“Ah, well.  It was Sunday’s bonfire, just after the sun had winked its last golden eye of the day, and they were at it!  Even down in the watercress and daisies!” Eleanor coughed, an ugly crackling sound in her chest and throat.
“Really? I can’t believe it.  I can just imagine the old dears’ faces, looking to see if this was a day for smiling.”
“Oh, no.  No smiling for them! It was leggy here, chrome handlebar there, spitting bonfire, alcohol…repulsive thing that sends children’s smiles devilish.” Ignoring the signs everywhere, Eleanor lit a cigarette and blew out a long plume of blue-grey smoke through pencil-thin red lips.
“Really?” With a nervous giggle, Vi wrapped her arms around her saggy breasts.  “An then?”
Another cough. “That’s when the strumpet performed.  Letting everyone rip off her clothes, piece by piece.” Vi gasped as Eleanor took a long drag. “Oh yes, they saw it all. Until she was standing there as naked as unctuous incarnate, breaking every law…daring every convention of human decency.  Slut!” With a final puff, she stamed out her cigarette and pushed it over to where a pierced youth snored against the window.
"Really..." Arms still tight over her chest, Vi pinched her wrinkled nipples in secret, remembering how it had killed her soul but paid the bills.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Running out of time

         Running out of Time

The three sisters and our lovely Mum

We talked about time today, at lunch with Jackie and Mum.  Time and how it passed without our even willing it. "Tempus Fugit," Mum always says.
It’s been quite a while since Alzheimer’s robbed Mum of her memory and time has ceased to have any meaning for her.  Tomorrow is distant, anything more than a ten-minute car ride is long and waiting for someone to pick her up is like eternity.
Yet my time here has flown by for her.  She rarely remembers that I’ve seen her the day before and I can never stay long enough. 
While we waited for the meal to arrive, Mum told us (again) about how upset she had been, thinking we weren’t going to come.  She felt terrible and then felt terrible about feeling terrible.  She convinced herself we weren’t coming, when in fact we arrived just when we said we would.
“I think time is something invented by man, Mum.  It’s a way of measuring things and establishing a distance from one point to another.  But what if time didn’t exist?  We could just live in this moment and not have to worry about what came next or what had been before.  Just enjoy this,” I spread my hands to encompass the table, the place and us.
Something happened just then.  I saw it in her eyes; that place where the magic begins and ends.  It happened as it does, in a nano-second.  She materializes from behind the veil of forgetting, appearing unscathed by the claws of Alzheimer’s oblivion and we are given Mum back for a few minutes.
She held Jackie’s hand in one of hers and mine in the other.  No one said a word as she looked back and forth between us, and she got a little misty-eyed.  “Do this with your children, won’t you?  Promise me you’ll do this.  You don’t understand what it’s like to be old, to forget, to have to depend on everyone else for everything.  Spending time with you is the most precious thing you could ever give me…” 
I choked up.  I couldn’t look away, because I didn’t want to miss a thing.  It was one of those moments I want to cherish forever.
“We will, Mummy.” We said as one. 
“I remember what it was like to have my independence, to get up and go whenever I wanted to, I had a life.  I had Brian. I had a family.  And now … now there are times when I don’t remember a thing.” She continued to gaze at us.
“I miss Brian so much.  Every day I miss him, it’s like time is stuck.  But I know he’s here, I believe he’s here…”
“Yes,” we replied, “right here.” As if rehearsed we both pointed to the empty chair at our table of four.
“Do you think I’ll ever get over it?” she whispered and inch by inch, she let go of our hands, turning for her handbag.
As she did, her eyes slid across my face and I saw it, the invisible iron grid crashing down as the vacant, lost look returned.
In a soundless whisper of another nano-second, she was gone.
Time plays cruel tricks.  Especially with people who have no recollection of the former or the ensuing.  We are so conditioned to living with clocks, calendars, schedules, routines, and prescribed lengths of time, that we are lost without them.
Mum lives in a constant now that’s always resetting itself, so she’s condemned to repeat and repeat herself – yet, paradoxically, the more routine she has, the more settled she is. 
Time is never given back to us, time doesn't wait.

Do this with your children, won’t you...?