Monday, July 27, 2015


Yesterday I went to Mom's house to clean out the fridge.  She thinks we did it weeks ago, although  when we moved her we left everything in the kitchen, including dirty dishes in the sink (which we took care of the next day).

As soon as I opened the fridge yesterday and started filling trash bags I was again overwhelmed by her condition.  It's so sad that she thinks we already took care of this.  In fact, she's mentioned it several times.  I wonder if she was trying to remember if we did it and then convinced herself we did.

That kind of thing has been happening for a very long time.  This rewriting of the recent past to fill in blank spaces that must seem scary -- the not knowing, the confusion.

Once I finished the fridge, I emptied the spice cabinet, poked around in some other cabinets and found this:

This broke my heart.   Inside are light bulbs.

When did she forget how to spell "bulbs?"

When did that happen?  How long has her mind been deteriorating?

This isn't a word my mom would not know how to spell.

We first talked to the doctor about her memory almost two years ago.  It was this past Christmas he felt I was describing the beginning of dementia rather than standard memory loss due to aging.

When did she write this?  A year ago?  Two years?  Three?

She has been in the independent living community for just a little for a month. She is still mourning the loss of her car and the loss of her home.

She hints at moving back home.  I'm telling you I took a gamble emptying that spice cabinet.  She is going to be hopping mad if she moves home and all her spices are gone.

Except I know she is not going to move home.

She is not moving home and she is not getting a car.

That said I'm putting off taking her over and finishing the sorting and discarding.  She has always had a very difficult time making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of and now the majority of what we need to do is to let go.

So much stuff and everything she gives to me or sells or sends to a charity is another piece of her independence she is relinquishing.

And the bolbs?  She'll never see the significance of not spelling that right.  That's where it falls apart. That's where it falls on me.  I'm OK with it.  It's not a complaint.  It's just a little heartbreaking at times.  To see a mind deteriorating. To see a person diminished.


Common Household Mom said...

Yes, it is heartbreaking to have to see this happening. And a huge physical and emotional exhaustion to have to deal with all the stuff, and to do the letting go.

I hope it is not out of line for me to say this: When my father was in the end-stages of his Parkinson's he would talk about going home. And my mother-in-law says the same thing (when she can speak). And yet in their lucid moments they each knew that it was not possible to return to their apartment or house. I chose to view this speaking about going home as philosophical, or even theological. Talking about going home was a way of saying that things are different now. And they are different and one must try to move forward with no regrets.

smalltownme said...

This is such a difficult thing to go deal with. You are doing the best you can for her.

Sarah said...

This is the hardest thing, friend. Sending you strength and understanding. And that image, with the word "bolbs," so powerful.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Very tough.
My folks are in the process of moving my mom's 93-year-old stepmom into assisted living. It's awful and she's uncooperative and no one is happy. But to go through it without any siblings, to go through it with her mental state diminished has to be a whole different level of awful.
You are such a good daughter.

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Leanne said...

This is a beautiful piece but heart breaking too. Sending you peaceful thoughts and hopes that it somehow gets easier.