Friday, December 25, 2015


It was my second Christmas spent in Memory Care.  I was feeling tired and "over it" before I even got there to find the mama more confused than usual.  Such is the case when she has guests earlier in the day.  I was super grateful to have missed them, so that I could focus on her.

I planned on leaving after dinner, but since many of the residents were busted out I sat and ate with the mama.  Christmas carols played loudly in the background.  Mom and I sang.  One of the few places I just don't care and will sing.  While we ate, I heard something amazing.  One of the residents, Annie, who has a great singing voice was humming along.  Her humming meshed beautifully with the carols, bounced around in the dining room and for just a moment the music became more than just canned music with a slightly deaf senior humming along.  It was as if the heavens opened and for a spilt second I swear there was an ethereal choir that sang with her.  I thought I might cry it was so lovely and just what I needed to fix my Bah-Humbug.

The miracles that happen in Memory Care are small like this one, but they are so mighty and they produce profound ripples.

Christmas Morning Dream

So last night, I had this dream......

I am maybe college age and in a Creative writing class.  It is co-ed and people are all ages.  I have a poem to read that I think is really good, more the ilk of what I write now versus the Hallmark schmaltz I wrote then.  I volunteer to go first and the response is very negative.  I slink back to my seat.  I listen to a few other writers who receive high praise.  I wonder why mine didn't?

Then I just say screw it, pack up my stuff and leave.  Why would I sit in a class I"M PAYING FOR to be publicly derided?  I have too much stuff and books keep falling out of my arms.  Most of them are the required reading for the class I just left.  I leave them where they lay, a trail of breadcrumbs to a place I will never return

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Chest Pains

I got the call just after I arrived home, the call I dread.  At first I am kinda pissed off that I have to go back out into what promises to be the worst December weather so far.  But the pissed off is just a cover for what I really am - scared.

They tell me they are taking my mom by ambulance to the ER because she is complaining of chest pain with left arm radiation.  FUCK!  I slam my clothes back on and run out the door.  It's raining, but not too badly just yet.  Perhaps I can make it before the worst hits.

In the car, there are no distractions.  The nice calming NPR voices piss me off and I snap the radio off.  Now I am just left with my own little voice which is growing louder and louder over the slapslap of the wipers.  The scare takes hold in my gut and I wonder if this is it?  My mom is almost 88, has Alzheimer's and lives in Memory Care.  What if she had a stroke or worse?  The thought of losing her crushes me into smithereens and I start bawling.  Am I going to lose another parent just before Christmas?  Memories of another night driving home in the rain after being told I have cancer are collected into the fold.  Scared and feeling sorry for myself.

That's when I drive into the storm from hell and all thoughts of anything except navigating the car through some biblical deluge evaporate.  Never thought I would be grateful for a storm but I am.  It took my mind off of that internal crap and I arrived sodden and ahead of the ambulance to the E.R.

I insist on being allowed back into the ER bay as soon as she arrives to help her not freak out.  The clerk assures me that "They are trained professionals and know how to deal with her."  I bite my tongue at that.  I have had two years of experience with her and the other residents of Memory Care, and I think I know what keeps her grounded better than you.  So shut the fuck up and let me back there.  (No, I don't say that.  But there is no sin in thinking it.  Really loudly.)

She seems OK.  Confused but OK.  She dozes and asks her million questions in between naps.

One of her caregivers, the one she insists is named Patty and the director of Memory Care nursing, who was out shopping when he got the call, show up along with two of my brothers.  Things are tense, but settle into a routine.  She seems OK.  The director departs with assurances I will text him when a decision is made to admit or send her back.  One of my brothers leaves.  I tell "Patty" to go home.  She has the early shift the next day and is coming off a double.

This leaves me and mom with the other bro, the one whose family seemed to take great delight in arm-chair quarterbacking every decision that has been made on her behalf, the one whose kids were adept at social media shaming and bullying to the point of unfriending them, the one I haven't spoken to or wanted to speak to in over a year.  He hasn't really paid any attention to mom or spoken to her.  Such is his MO.  It's all about being seen and being seen doing "the right thing."  But now his audience is gone, so he starts in on me about some political agenda that is designed to slam the Affordable Health Care Act, President Obama and everything that threatens his privileged white male world - which is every damn thing on the planet apparently.

In that moment, I do something I rarely do.  I tell him to stop talking.  Not shut up.  Just stop talking.  He knows absolutely nothing about the subjects he is about to expound upon and hearing him speak right now, or ever, on the issue of politics, women's rights, immigration just makes me embarrassed to share blood with him.  I just can't listen to him.  Not now when my mom is lying in an ER bay with EKG leads, an IV and all the trappings of an ER visit hooked up to her.  Not now.  Not ever.

For once he does what I ask and stops talking.  Clearly at a loss for what to do when his mouth isn't running.  I don't want to hear his voice.  I want to focus everything I can on the small woman in that bed without his teeth-gritting distraction.

When we get the word all is well, I ask if he will take her back to the Manor.  I will follow and get her settled, but getting her into my SUV seems risky.  He seems put out at first.  Tells me how it's passed his bed time.  I do not give a shit.  He agrees.  Grudgingly.

He hugs me later.  I still vomit in my mouth a little when he does.  But am glad that he did at least that little bit.

Today, when I went to visit her, she was freaking out about not having Christmas gifts.  I told her she had already given me the best gift by being OK.  We went on with our adventures in Memory Care from there.  

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...