Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. -Arthur Ashe
That’s all I can do, at this point.
Today I walked my mom to her mailbox with my grandmother’s walking cane. It was iffy. I was terrified. It was very strange to feel the same “fear” for her safety as I often feel for my son’s when I’m the “responsible adult in the room.” It’s very disorienting to have such a very clear role reversal. It’s been semi- like this for a while now, but at this point we have crossed that line very definitely. It’s no longer a sort of blurry line or a dotted line. It’s a very solid line and we have very realistically crossed it.
Tomorrow I have a meeting with the home health nurse about getting PT out a couple of times a week and having a social worker assigned to the case to help me to make sure I have access to all the resources I need. My mother is gone. As tumultuous as our relationship has always been, I’m still really sad inside, which was unexpected. I don’t know who this woman is. Neither does she.
I saw a side to my mom when my dad died that I’d never seen – I saw an independent, capable woman emerge, brave and strong and extremely adept. Within months I saw that woman begin to fade away. In the last year I have witnessed (and fought against) the slow decline that has led to this sudden, extreme decline we have been facing over the last month. And the only thing I can say with truth and with compassion is that for her sake, not my own, I hope that dementia is a swift journey for her, like cancer was for Dorie. Because even when you have very little of a good past with a person, this is a very difficult thing to witness.
It is hard with Granny Dot. With my mom…it’s beyond that. Maybe it’s because it’s not just compassion, but the nitty gritty caregiving I am responsible for with her. I don’t know. I never really liked my mother (because she wasn’t and never has been “my mother,” though I suppose I’ve always loved her, if that makes sense) until now – and it’s because now I’m seeing the mother I always hoped she would become…and I’m seeing that mother, in me…