...and have to say it was one heck of a visit if only just over an hour long. She is in a rehab center, after a fall, trying to get to the point where she can walk well enough to get her back to her assisted living apartment. When I got there, she was in the physical therapy room, sound asleep, sitting in a wheel chair. I woke her and she immediately put her head back down and was again out like a light. So, I woke her again and the second time she woke I got a big happy smile. She knew me by name, only forgot that once - she has pretty bad dementia. We got to talking a bit and the therapist came over, got her up, and had her walk to her room with her walker - unassisted. I guess that was a walk of about 40 yards. She made it all the way, though I think she was hoping to go back to sleep or just relax after the first few feet. Then she got to showing off for me and that gave her the impetus to carry on.
Once we got to her room, she was sat back into the wheelchair and I gave her a ride to the beach, about 1/4 to 1/3 of a mile from her place, maybe even 1/2 mile. Not far and an easy walk for me, easy for her too since she was riding in the chair. We chatted about this that and everything along the way. Once we got there, we sat and talked a bit more. She asked me, several times, who was I, not by name, but meaning who was I in relation to her. She was surprised each time to hear I was her son. She called me her brother when the therapist had her walk down the hall, called me her husband when I was walking her along, and as I said kept asking me what I was to her. A couple of times she asked me how was Linda (my wife) and did so by name, then said, "That is your wife, right". Then she asked if I had children and if they were well behaved. My kids are 26 and 21. She asked if my daughter was going to get married soon - pretty good she remembered she was not married and also asked how my son was doing and if he had a girlfriend yet. As far as I know he is between girlfriends so she got that right too. Then she said too bad she had never married meaning herself. When I told her she had been married twice she was really surprised. She asked me to whom and I told her.
After a few minutes at the beach, I called my sister on my cell phone and put my mom on, reminding her to say happy birthday to my sister. She then sang the whole Happy Birthday To You song to her. She did not miss a word. After that she went into some things in my sister's and brother-in-law's personal lives that I will not go into here. Pretty sharp. We headed back to the rehab center after only about 20 minutes at the beach, a small town beach with a bath house, and we were under the overhang of that, on a concrete walkway only a few feet from the sand and maybe 50 feet from the water's edge. As we walked back she started to talk about her second husband, saying it was too bad he did not listen to her and that he went off to war. I asked what that was about and she said he was killed in combat. When I told her he passed away about 29 years ago or so, she was again surprised. She was also surprised o find out again, that they had been married. Then she remembered how nice he had been to her. They were sweethearts. Her memory is strong on some points and no there on others, then sharp as a razor's edge, then just about blank.
Once inside, we went to the cafe and each enjoyed a candy bar. We talked some more and she asked who had been my father and if he had been nice. I did not go it o it much except to tell her he had been her first husband and that he was...well I don't need to say much more than I did to her, that he had been useless and he had died about a year and a half ago. I surely did not need to stir up any memories of him for her because none of them would be good for her, I am sure of that. So I changed the subject. Not long after that I had to say goodbye. I told her I would try to see her again tomorrow evening or Sunday. I am figuring that if Brendan and I get out of the Appleseed Shoot early enough, we can both stop by for awhile to visit with her.
Sometimes I have a hard time and mixed emotions about visiting her. That too is based on personal issues but I go anyway whenever I can get the time. Sometimes I have to make the time. Lately she has been pretty easy going, she is in a less angry state than she had been for the first stages of the dementia when she was paranoid about this, that and everything so it has been easier for me. When she does get into a tizzy of misbehaving (for want of a better way to describe it) on her part, I just try to put up with it. If it is really bad, I may have to leave and come back another day. As I said though, she has been on her best behavior lately and it has made for some very nice visits. It is hard to see her like this at all, so any little thing that helps is good. I can tell you she certainly appreciates my visits, in the here and now mode, even if she does not remember them almost as soon as I leave. It is nice to see her happy and smiling.
Not much point in me writing about all of this except to talk about my mom and our time together. Oh, maybe there is one other thing: to say to those of you, with relatives in like circumstances, that they sure could use a visit as often as you can get to them. No matter how they act, they probably appreciate it in some corner of their minds. Even when my mom was in angry stages of her dementia, I know she was happy to have visitors and it saddened her when it was time to part.
All the best,