Thursday, November 4, 2010

1954


My mother is currently in a hospital and believes it is 1954. She also believes that her cat and my father are still alive and waiting for her in the house she used to live in.


Tomorrow they’ll move her into a skilled nursing facility and, hopefully, in time, she’ll be able to move back into her room in assisted living.


Because of the distance, I don’t get back to see my mom very often, but I did in June. She was eating in the dining room when I walked up and her eyes lit up the way only a mother’s eyes do.


“It’s my youngest!” she said. “It’s my baby!” and I stood there, smiling, a fifty-one year old woman, paraded around the dining room, being shown off to my mother’s friends.


My saint-of-a-sister who cares for my mom gives us daily reports and is sure to let us know that that spark, that sharp wit that has always been a trademark of my mother is still evident, even as she slips between the years.


I know the inevitable outcome. I know people don’t recover from dementia, from aging. I know that my mother’s years are numbered and that even now her memories are being boxed up within her own brain. Some are sealed forever, while some packets are loosened up and allowed to scatter without rhyme or reason.


There’s nothing like considering a parent’s demise to take you back to the basic elements of child-like thought.


And what self-centered childish thought entered my mind when I heard my mother was living in 1954?


In 1954 all four of my sisters were there, lined up with matching dresses for pictures with my mother proudly looking on.


1954.


I don’t exist in 1954.




94 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

Such a sad story but at least you do have your sister to take care of you.
None of my relatives had dementia but hubby's grandmother did. I remember one Christmas she asked me whose baby I was carring around and I told her it was mine. She replied that she didn't even know that I was married which made me scratch my head since I married into this family.....

Brian said...

Purrs and hugs to you Betty.

Caro said...

You post brought tears to my eyes.
Cherish every moment you have with her and build memories that you will remember for her.
Sending you hugs :)

The Retired One said...

I completely understand..I was the Adminstrator for an Assisted Living facility for over 5 years and saw all levels of dementia and people's reaction to aging. They are happy, it is the families that have the hardest time. Just approach her with humor and love and you will do just fine.

Daisy said...

That is a lovely picture, Betty. :-)
Time falls out of its boundaries and gets all jumbled up for those with dementia. My heart goes out to you and to your sister. I lost my Dad to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease a few years back, and you know the situation with my Mom. Hugs to you.

Parsley said...

So many of us relate to your pain and I know from seeing my Grandma suffer from Alzheimer's, it's a cruel disease.

Hugs....know I understand and care.

Lin said...

I remember when my Grandma was in the throws of dementia and my mom would come home and cry. She would be so sad that Grandma thought that my grandfather was alive, that my dad (who was also dead) came to visit her, and that she was leaving for Florida in a few days. My thought was how happy those thoughts were! I mean, she could have had scary thoughts or horrible images in her mind, but instead she had nice things going on inside there.

It's all perspective, Betty. Be glad that 1954 was a happy year for your mom--even if you weren't there yet.

Hang in there, pally.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Oh! But she still knows and loves you. Besides, we all get dates wrong, you know?
That's a tough thing to live with and I try not to consider my own folks dying. I just know it'll be the worst day of my life.

Leanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leanne said...

oh betty . . . tears. I've got nothing comforting to say right now, dear friend. Just telling you that I am here, reading these words and saying a quiet prayer for your mom and for you.

hugs

sherri said...

uggh, that post got to me. I love that picture of you and your mom. it speaks volumes just as you always do with your eloquent posts. I am sorry you are going through this with your Mom, I can't imagine how tough that is. I am wishing I had something eloquent and comforting to say to you right now. xo, s

GreatGranny said...

I sympathize with you. My Grandmother was diagnosed in her 80's and only lived to 91 so she never progressed to the advanced stages. Your Mom seems happy and that means so much.

RawknRobynsGoneBlogWild said...

I'm touched by this post and send you a big hug, Betty.
This reminds me of my last visit to my Grandma. She said she didn't know who I was, but she knew my face. (My mom and I share the same face, and my mom died before Grandma.) I asked my Grandma how old she was, and she said, with certainty: I'm 35. (She was in her 90s.)

It's all bittersweet and mostly sad.
xoRobyn

faye said...

Such a sad and moving post.
So easy to relate to..
I watched my sister slip away
from us in February. I will never
forget the lost look in her eyes.
Hugs to you Betty...

Miriam in KS said...

"And what self-centered childish thought entered my mind when I heard my mother was living in 1954?"

I am afraid I would have thought the same thing. The first time I took Dad to the Sr. center here in L-town for a Meals on Wheels type of communal lunch, I was saddened to watch his insecurity with meeting new people in a new situation. Not at all the man we had observed in our teenaged years, responsible for running a school. It sure is hard to have to be the grown-up when it comes to our parents and aging. Especially when we need to get to be a child again once in awhile.

Keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. {{{{{Hugs}}}}}

Bella said...

You know, I think a lot of people would have thought the same thing. My heart goes out to you and your family. That is a lovely photo of the two of you together.

BECKY said...

What a sweet post. I can't imagine how hard that is on both you and your mom. You wrote it all so beautifully. Thanks for sharing!

LittleSilkDress said...

Hugs and prayers for you, BB. You are in my thoughts.

Cricket said...

Ooooh. It's hard, no matter how it happens. My Aunt Rita slipped into dementia and didn't seem to notice. My Aunt Mil slipped into dementia and absolutely knew something was very wrong. My Nana kept her wits completely as her body slipped away.

Yet I'm still glad for the time we had, however it played out. Prayers for you and your Mom. That's all I've got for you.

Lisa said...

Oh! Gee! These are such hard times.
First of all: Yay for your sister! I know it's hard on everyone. Hard when your away and hard when your close. So very hard! I am sorry you have to deal with this.

Your so right in saying "there is nothing like thinking of a parents demise to take you back to the basic elements of child-like thoughts." I remember all too well.

and then I have to smile when you say in 1954 you didn't exists. . .If it were me I would be like "Hey! What's up with that?"

much love to you!

xoxo, Lisa

Velvet Over Steel said...

What a sad but touching story, Betty! My mother is getting there quickly... very sadly too!

Thank you for sharing!! I'm going to my mothers retirement party tomorrow and wasn't looking forward to being 'paraded around'... now I will be happy and just 'smile'!

Many Hugs,
Coreen

Hilary said...

And yet she crossed the 1954 dateline and knew her baby the minute she walked into the room. Love has no bounds. Hugs to you, Betty.

Dreamfarm Girl said...

My heart is with you. Watching our parents age is so hard -- it's both about losing them and losing a piece of ourselves, our grounding. Your post captures this well. But the love shines through and that is perhaps the best we can hope for.

Judy said...

I can soooo relate.

It's a sadness like no other.

Pat said...

I can't imagine losing a parent one memory at a time like this. That has got to be so difficult. Hang in there and treasure those lucid moments with your Mother.

Copyboy said...

Ugh I'm so, so, sorry. That must be such a hard thing to deal with. And to think she's only trapped in that year. My heart goes out to you and your family Betty.

Tracy said...

Aw, Betty, so sorry. Thinking of you and your Mom.

Shan said...

Oh, BB... you don't exist in 1954, but you are still the light in your mother's eyes. It is not 1954 and you exist in her heart.

Big hugs,

Shan

Lora said...

:(
i've only dealt with this sort of thing with grandparents, but i know it's only a matter of time before either anthony or my own parents have the same sort of thing. so incredibly sad. i'm so incredibly sorry.

Medeia Sharif said...

This has me teary-eyed. All the best to both of you.

Happy Homemaker said...

Love the picture of you and your mama! Precious!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

So sad to see one's parents like this. It must be heartbreaking for you.
I know this is in a different context but many years before my husband passed away he had to have a test at the hospital and was given a sedative drug, when he came to he looked at me and said"You've got fatter, then proceeded to ask who were collecting the children from school.
The drug had taken him back 20 years, it was the next day that he realised he had an allergy to this drug and the hospital didn't pick up on it.

I loved the pic with you and you're mother, something to treasure.

Yvonne.

Nat said...

Betty, this is so very sad and I can really sympathise with you.
My thoughts are with you...

Pat Tillett said...

So sad Betty...
I'm sorry that you and your family have to go through this. It can be a very stress filled time for everyone involved. I also remember the first time I realized that my mom was stuck in a place, where she had no idea who I was.

Old Kitty said...

BB! This is a beautiful pic and piece about your lovely mum!! Your mum has her family who loves her and her memories to keep her company. The bond you all have with her is strong and loving. I wish you and your family all the best. Please take care
x

Tabor said...

Betty, so sorry to read this. My husband went through something similar with his mother. He was an only child and it was very difficult for him to understand and accept. The photo shows how lovely and sweet she is and I am hoping that all works out better than you anticpate.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

That is sad, but I hope that the years that you have with your mom are happy and healthy.

Susan Fields said...

We watched my grandmother suffer through dementia, and it's such a difficult thing. I love that your mother paraded you around the dining room, though. My mom still calls me her "baby" too, and when my 10-year-old complains when I call her "baby" I tell her she'll always be my baby. Hugs to you, Betty.

Leah J. Utas said...

She still knew you and was proud. I hope that helps.

Madi and Mom said...

BB
I'm sorry to read about your precious Mom. My husband's mom suffered with dementia too. She also lived in the past...for a while we tried to remind her what year it was. We finally accepted that she was in her happy place with happy memories. God Bless you and your family as you transition through the difficult times,
Hugs
Madi and Mom

Peggy K said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peggy K said...

BB, beautiful post. I'm sending hugs. That's all I can think of at this time (short of some sarcastic humor that many readers might find offensive!). I'm envious of the beautiful relationship you have with your mom. And I guess grateful that sufferers of this typically do relive happy times of their past.
Big, big hugs!!!
(And yes, I deleted the previous post due to a typo).

Flartus said...

A wonderful expression of the sadness, frustration and love involved in watching a parent fail. I'm glad your mother is being well-cared for, and that you have a saint-of-a-sister. Every day my own septuagenarian parents continue happily on in their own home, in strong health and full possession of their faculties, I take as a blessing.

June said...

Terribly sad.
My own mother, a schizophrenic, lost or reinvented our mutual history over the years. By the time she was in her fifties, she had made a whole different story out of our lives.
It is a lonesome feeling . . . probably on both sides.

NENSA MOON said...

Oh..What so touch, BB!
Though your mom had got Dementia, but luckily she still remember you as her baby daughter.
hope she stay healthy and strong
I'll keep your mom in my prayer, BB!

hugs,
nensa

Cool Gal said...

Sending you a big hug.

Sara said...

Oh, Miss Bossy, why'd you go and have to make me cry? Sending hugs.. ♥

Joey @ Big Teeth and Clouds said...

I wish your family has strength in this difficult time.

Joe Cap said...

This is so sad, Betty.
Sometimes our church goes out and visits older folks in homes, and they sometimes don't even know what is going on. I have to think this may be a good thing, if they are unaware, maybe the suffering is less for them, even though it is great for their loved ones?

Brian Miller said...

sad. that last line punched me in the gut...so sorry...

Aging Mommy said...

Oh so very sad - there is no "best" way to leave this earth but I do think dementia of any kind is such a very awful way, not just for the person involved but for all of those around them. I'm so very sorry Betty.

floweringmama said...

Oh Betty, I really struggled reading your post. It hit home with me. My grandmother had a massive brain bleed on Dec. 12 last year and has never been the same.

It's so hard to watch our elderly loved ones slip away.

Prayers to you.

Cathy in Ky

Jules said...

HUGS, my friend I live this daily with my Grandmother. :( Just HUGS, that is all I can say.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Sarah said...

It's hard to see your parents age. sometimes I think it's the last cruel joke God plays on us.

Betty Manousos @ CUT AND DRY said...

So sorry to hear this. Sending a big hug and my thoughts to you, dear Betty.
This post brings me to tears.

(((hugs)))
B

ethelmaepotter! said...

OH! I should have gotten a clue when you said you were a fifty-one year old woman, but I was totally unprepared for that last line. My hand literally went to my heart.

I know it's of little comfort, but your mother has no control of her mind, and you'll probably never know why it chose to take her back to 1954. Maybe there was one specific day that drew her there - or maybe her mind was like a roulette wheel, just spinning until it stopped...in 1954. Random.

Personally, I've known some people with dementia who are VERY HAPPY. I'm not trying to sound cruel or flippant, but look it at from their perspective - they live in a time when they weren't old, when they weren't ill, when life was perhaps much kinder to them. They don't realize they're sick. The loved ones are the most affected.

Be strong, darlin'. And you know, in 1954 you probably DID exist - your mother probably dreamed of you; she just didn't know your name yet.

Haddock said...

The worst thing that can happen along with old age is loss/lapse of memory.
And I know how difficult it is to deal with it.

Noelle said...

What a beatifully sad story.

KLZ said...

That's so hard. There is simply no way to make that better. I'm sorry. You do exist here though. Always.

Out on the prairie said...

I like her choice of years, perhaps a very uncomplicated part of her life, or just a random guess. It is nice your sis is there but stressful for all sometimes.I have worked a lot of volunteer with geriatrics and find a lot of wisdom from it. I had a book club in a Alzheimers Unit and read childrens books, many without text to them.Many times it took just as long to explain how I came to enjoy their company and wasn't anybodies relative.I was two in 54.

blueviolet said...

That is so heartbreaking and I am so sorry that you are all experiencing that.

Brian (not the cat) said...

My mother went psychotic in 1999 for some time (medication eventually brought her back to sort-of-normal, which is about as good as it gets in my family). She developed this idea that all of her children were impostors, robots perhaps, and having gone totally blind didn't make it any easier to discern the truth. Well, to try to convince her I was who I claimed to be, I said, "Ask me a question only Brian would know the answer to," to which she responded, "Why are you so horrible?"

So, Betty, I would say it's better to be non-existent than horrible. I hope being in 1954 provides some solace to your mother, but that perhaps she too will recover a measure of reality.

Ann said...

What a lovely and sad story. I can't imagine what it must be like to go through this for you or for her.
Although my father passed away many years ago it was hard but it was quick.
My thoughts are with you.

slommler said...

I am so sorry to hear this honey! Sending you big hugs!!
SueAnn

Marlene said...

So sad, and I totally feel for you. My hubby's mother was the same way for quite a few years. She passed away this year. Now his dad is going through the same ordeal, though he's not quite as bad off as she was.

My heart goes out to you. It's so tough to watch the person who looked after you for so many years struggle with looking after themselves.

Lydia Kang said...

Oh. You didn't exist then. Maybe you were just a lovely hope and a dream?
Your post was though provoking and sad.
Hugs, Betty.

Catherine said...

Sweet friend ~ such a heartfelt post. I have tears in my eyes.

I am sending you the warmest thoughts and wishes. It is so hard to see someone you love becoming lost to you ~ so you will have to hold on to all the love and memories in your heart and mind for her.

xxoo Catherine

jenny_o said...

Ah, it's tough, isn't it. But there may still be good days too. And as others mentioned, she did recognize you as "hers". A beautiful picture!

Jami said...

There are no words to soothe you, I am sure, but thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Ami said...

I wish I didn't understand what you're talking about, sort of... but sharing it and knowing other people have felt it or are feeling it somehow makes it a little easier to have those memories myself.

((hugs))

Loz said...

My Mum passed away in September 5 days after being diagnosed with terminal cancer at the age of 80. We were grateful for the last few days where we were able to remember and laugh and cry over the lives we shared. I wish you and your Mum well

Zuzana said...

Oh, this is sad and touching at the same time...
It brought back recollection of a wonderful gem of a movie called "Goodbye Lenin", dealing with similar but slightly different issue, of a mother, who suffered a stroke during the last part of the cold war. She wakes up from her coma in a new, liberated East. But due to her ailing health, the children are trying to pretend the old regime is still in place.
xoxo

Ca88andra said...

Both my mother and my grandmother had alzheimers. Its a very sad thing - more for the family than for the sufferer. I live on the other side of the country to my parents and couldn't visit her often, but called regularly. She eventually had to be moved to a nursing home and, the few times I got to see her, she had no idea who I was. Strangely though, whenever I called the nursing home to talk to her, she would recognise me.

Oh Sew Good said...

I would think she has moved on since 1954 because you said that she recognized you. (((hugs)))

Joann Mannix said...

Betty,

Prayers and blessings I am sending to you, your sweet mom and your family. I am so sorry.

Her mind might be stuck in 1954, but she remembered you instantly when you walked in the door. You're her baby and no matter where her mind may wander, that primal cord will never be broken. Her mind is allowing her to live in the bits and pieces of happy memories. I wish you all strength and love in the days to come.

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

Oh Betty, I'm sorry. When I was gone for a while it was because my Mom was in a nursing home in the final stages of dementia. She passed away at the end of September. I just haven't really found the words to blog about it. I'm also the youngest, or the baby, as she referred to me all my life. There really is no replacement for a mom's love. My sympathy and thoughts are with you.

Seams Inspired said...

You didn't exist in 1954, but you exist in your Mom's heart. (((HUGS)))

I somewhat know what you're going through. My Grandpa lived out his last days with Alzheimer's in a facility in Peabody, Kansas. While I'm sure he received great care, it was very difficult to be so far away from him. The last time I saw him was at my Grandma's funeral. We were having the obligatory church luncheon after the service. He was standing next to me without a hint of recognition of who I was, and began flirting with me. (He was always a big flirt!) He said, "Hey, pretty lady! You're all dressed up and I've got my best boots on. Why don't you and me go dancing?" I just laughed and laughed, and everyone around me stood horrified that I couldn't stop laughing at my Grandma's funeral luncheon. I think Grandma would've thought it was funny too. :o) Hang in there, my sweet bloggy friend.

Baby Sister said...

I am so sorry Betty. My grandma had Alzheimer's and even though I was really too young to understand, it was hard when she didn't recognize me or whatever the case was.

Sending hugs and prayers your way!!

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Betty, first what a beautiful photo of the two of you. I am so sorry that you are going through this, it is extremely difficult, I know. The fact that your Mom's eyes lit up and she paraded you around to her friends is a moment that will last in your heart forever. My heart goes out to you.

Green Monkey said...

I don't think I realized that we are the same age Betty.

You're mom is adorable. Sadly, mine is pretty wicked. Bitterness got the best of her. Even so, I love her dearly. She lives in Vermont, near 2 of my sisters so I have an excuse not to see her often. I am very close with my dad. See him everyday. He is becoming very frail and as difficult as it is to watch, I think it will help in the end. He was once a strong, difficult super hero who could not express emotions. Then he morphed into an adoring, adorable father, and now, he's entering child stages. He still has his sense of humor and intuitively knows when something is bothering me. (I just made myself cry)

Georgina Dollface said...

The image of your Mom prouldy showing you off made my heart smile.
My Mom went through this with her Mom too. My Mom was the daughter who lived far away (6hrs) and so my aunt did all the caregiving and updating and moving my Grandma into a care facility. It was always hard to leave my Grandma, because I felt like we were abandoning her in some way. But she really didn't know the difference between one day and the next, time was irrelevant to her.
Thinking of you and your Mom and sending prayers and gentle thoughts. - G

Mike said...

Happy to hear that your sister keeps tabs on your mom. It's a hard thing to deal with. Enjoy the time you have with her.

A girl needs 2 Talk said...

My hair stood on end. I see hope. I loved reading about how your mum paraded you around. :) She isn't in 1954 because she identifies the 51 year old woman as her youngest. :) :) I'm weepy, but I see hope. Throwing my arms around you, Bet!

Liz said...

Oh, BB! I'm so sorry to hear this! I do wish for her a speedy recovery! I know the distance must be so hard on you right now.

Gaston Studio said...

So sorry to hear this Betty but it sounds as if she's being well taken care of and at least has some lucid moments still. And maybe you weren't there in 1954, but you might have been a gleam in her eye.

Even though dementia doesn't seem to "run" in our family, I think one of the reasons I'm telling all of my life stories is... just in case.

Sandi McBride said...

Speaking as one whose mother is now a memory, I don't why that I did not find this a sad post as everyone else did, I think there's something to be said about being able to go back in time and live as though it's 1954 or 1968 or 1972...perhaps that's just my quirk. I look at your plight about not having been around in 1954 as she was saving the best for last...but then I've always been a bit cockeyed and living in a world of my own making but then that's alright, everyone knows me there. I loved this post no end and it's well deserving of POTW, so congrats!
Sandi

Gaston Studio said...

And congrats on POTW... I got so wrapped up in your story, I completely forgot to tell you!

Snappy Di said...

Yes, you existed in 1954,,,, as a twinkle in your father's eye.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

Moannie said...

Beautiful. Just beautiful. I was 20 in '54 and I think that that is where my mind would go.

POTW I should think so...congratulations.

Cricket said...

Just a quick return visit to say congratulations on your potw.

Congratulations on your potw.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Been there, done that... My heart is with you.
Congrats on your POTW!
xo jj

Barbara Shallue said...

Obviously you exist in the 1954 your mother is currently living in - she recognized you right away!
Such a moving post, especially as I can no longer ignore the age I see in my own parents. Hopped over from the POTW - well deserved.

Sandra said...

Your sister sounds like she may be cut from the same cloth as my sister, Martha.

Our mother was in a nursing home and fading fast, so Martha retired from her job and took Mama home to care for her for the last years of her life. And she never once made the rest of us feel guilty that she was doing that. She always said she did it because she wanted to do it, and she didn't want the rest of us to feel bad about it. What a wonderful gift that was to Mama and to the rest of us too.

Diane J Standiford said...

So many in our age group are dealing with this, will no one call it an epidemic? My relatives lived minds all there late into 80,90, to 103---we seem to just accept dementia is how it ends if there is no disease...interesting. My mom has Alz and for spme reason remembers ME on occassion, not my brothers, not one at all, not our father at all. But she can fool, pretend she knows me. We laugh together like we always did, that is all that matters.