Monday, May 18, 2015

B is for Butterfly

My mom's bestie of 65+ years passed away in November of 2013.  My mom, already rattled with Alzheimer's, seemed to lose it after that and we moved her to Memory Care a few months later.

Her bestie, Mrs. B, was one of the most kind-hearted women I have ever met, a natural nurturer.  She became involved with the local butterfly exhibit at the Krohn Conservatory when it first started and continued to be a vital part every year for the next 18 years.  She fed the caterpillars daily and pinned pupae so that there was a constant and steady stream of butterflies to delight the crowds.  All of her work was behind the scenes.  All of it for the enjoyment of others.  Mrs.  B was just like that.  I never went that I didn't feel her in every butterfly.  She WAS the butterfly show to me.

Mom's new tribe of Memory Care took a field trip last week to the Krohn.  When I asked about it mom waxed on and on about this butterfly that landed on her hand and stayed there for fifteen minutes.  She was quite proud of herself since no one else had attracted one.  I was stoked that she remembered since her memory is so bad.

I gently reminded her how Mrs. B helped with the butterflies every year.  She looked at me in her childish way and said, "Do you think she sent the butterfly?"  To which I replied, "I think she WAS the butterfly."  She was satisfied.  So was I.  It was like Mrs. B. had stopped in to check on her.  Mrs. B is just like that.

Sunday, May 3, 2015


Saturday evening I spend with my mom in Memory Care.  Most Saturdays pass smoothly in the routine of dinner, shower, manicure and Crazy 8's all woven through and around (and around) with the same questions.

When can I go home?
How was your week?
Who lives in my house?
Where are my mom and dad?

I have become accustomed to it all, to providing her with the answer least likely to provoke her, sometimes leaving the truth far behind in my wake in an effort to have calm.

Some Saturdays are rougher than others as I watch this loving spritely woman twist and fold into something small and terrified as the night comes on.  It is in those moments when she is least herself and more other.  It is in those moments that reassurances and calm need to reign.  And it is in those moments when I can no longer see her in there, just stark terror in her eyes.  There is no recognition of who I am other than someone familiar and comforting.

Such has been our pattern for the past few weeks.  I have tried to adapt again, tried not to do things or say things that will upset either of us.  But last night I had to know and asked her who I was while she struggled in the deepest dark.  And she didn't know.  I didn't need to ask that question, I already knew the answer.  Hearing her say she didn't know opened up a new kind of pain for me.  Pain that I immediately stuffed, stuffed, stuffed down so I could finish the routine of putting her to bed.  My own needs always secondary to hers while I am there.  I would cry on my own time in the car on the way home by myself.

As I was leaving one of the new male residents was in the hall.  He looked at me and said "You're fat."   Uh....yeah captain obvious.  I was pissed off, continued out the door fuming before I said something I might regret.  I made up responses both clever and cutting the whole way home.

I know his comment was unintentional and chastising an AD patient is like chastising a child.  So, I'm glad I didn't smart out a response.  And his comment at least kept me from fixating on the sad end to my visit with the mama.  So in some ways it was a blessing.  Guess I should thank that dude instead of slapping him.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...