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?