Monday, April 18, 2016 evening
The first week of each visit is typically the “honeymoon” time. Mom and I both try to be extra nice and polite; however, bits of reality start to grate on each of us and we both get somewhat frustrated at times.
Today was memorable. Dad did not eat much at lunch and Mom did pretty well at containing her frustration. She had put her sweater on him during lunch because he was chilly. After lunch she obtained his sweater, and in the process of her trying to get her sweater off of him, her finger nail accidentally scratched Dad’s arm. He yelled and was angry. Her lips tightened and her eyes became large. I thought she was going to yell back. Instead, she threw his sweater at him. I spoke up immediately: “Mom, you need to leave the area now and calm down.” She did. She walked down the hall. Then she promptly walked back with a tight lipped angry look and plopped herself down in the chair next to Dad.
This all happened in front of some staff, visitors, and other residents, most of whom would not have been aware. Staff and visitors were aware, though.
The event closed with me trying to explain to Dad that it was an accident…asking if his arm was okay…etc. He seemed fine and Mom went to his room to collect his daily laundry. While she did that, I notified a nurse of the incident. Then Mom marched back to Dad with the bag of dirty laundry. She plopped it on his lap and said, “This is what I do for you. I hope you appreciate it.” Then she stormed off. Dad just shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if to say, “I don’t know what the hell is going on.” And he didn’t.
Three hours later everything was calm at home and Mom said, “Gee, it seems like it’s been so long since I’ve seen Dad.”
“Well,” I said, “we were with him for three hours today…and you weren’t exactly happy when we left.”
No response. She just focused on her ham sandwich.
The other day a nurse’s aide I had never met before came over and asked, “Did your mother tell you she came to visit Victor at 8 o’clock one night?”
“No…..she doesn’t usually drive at night. When did this happen?”
“A couple weeks ago. She came in and I said, ‘Pearl! What are you doing here? Victor is in bed asleep.’ I didn’t want her to drive home, so I gave her a blanket and let her sleep in the chair over there.”
I looked over at Mom. “So…you came to visit one night at 8 p.m.?”
“I guess so. I missed him.”
More Stashed Cash
While searching for a checkbook she misplaced, she brought out more envelopes with cash. She claimed she had no idea where the cash came from and agreed that we should take it to the bank the next day. We did so this morning. I felt so frustrated. I’m starting to have some tearful moments.
Checkbook? What Checkbook?
It used to be several times a week, but lately it’s been three to five times a day. Mom will walk into the living room and say something like, “You know, I want to have my own money. I want my own checking account so I can see how much is in there.” So I remind her that she has a checking account…again and again and again. She will make a frown and then head upstairs to look for it. Sometimes she finds it; sometimes she needs help and we look together. We will go over the bank books she has, I have her read the notes I have taped on each one, and then she puts them away. Two hours later…”You know…I need my own checking account.”
Although she has some accounts, I share responsibility for all but one and I take care of accounts for household expenses and Dad’s care. For now she has her own bank books, but that may change. We may have to set her up with her “new” bank account down the road. The good news is that she is not a spender. As a child of the Great Depression, she is extremely frugal.
Guess Who’s Coming for Pie?
On Friday Mom took a phone call upstairs. She came down a little later and said, “Chris is coming over tomorrow around 5. I’m not sure who Chris is…maybe she’s Carol’s daughter. We should get a cake or pie or something. We’ll have to use some of your coffee.”
So on Saturday we were ready with a heated Sara Lee apple pie. Five o’clock came and went.
“Maybe it was 6,” Mom said. “You know, I didn’t recognize her voice.”
Six o’clock came and went.
“What did she say to you when you spoke to her?” Mom asked.
“I didn’t speak to her, Mom. You did.”
Dad Has a Girlfriend
This is an idea that is stuck in Mom’s mind. She doesn’t talk about it much, but the other day she just blurted it out. “Dad has a girlfriend.”
“Now?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Oh…I’m sure that’s upsetting. How do you know?”
“Because he’s never here. He never comes home.”
“Well, he lives at Victory Lakes now, Mom.”
“Yeah…well, he can get around if he wants to. It happens. I just have to live with it.”
Yes…and like millions of other families in our situation, we just have to live with it…with the confusion, the forgetting, the mood swings, the delusions, the denials, the frustrations and the fear. I just wish I could find a way to make the coming weeks and months easier for Mom. Best I can do is fasten my seat belt.