Saturday, February 25, 2012

Blog 16: 10 Degrees

One of the worst experiences I had while living with and caring for my mom was the night that she forced me to leave.  It was a January night in the dead of winter, snow on the ground, and about 10 degrees outside.

We were having a really rough day.  Mom was on my case all day long.  She wanted me to leave and go to my house.  She kept telling me I have three houses (not true) and I need to leave her house because I'm free-loading off her.  She said I'm costing her money...I was eating her food, using her electricity, and not paying any rent.  She didn't realize I was buying the groceries.  t tried to explain to Mom that I didn't have three houses, that I already sold my house because I was moving, and I have no place to go.  She told me to get a hotel then.  I tried to appeal to her emotions.  It was of no use.  She wanted me gone.  She was not acting like the loving Mom she used to be.  I mean she was sometimes, but when she got in one of those moods, she was downright mean to me.  It really, really hurt my feelings.

Looking back, I had put my life on hold to come and care for her.  I had broken up with my boyfriend and was going through a huge change in my life.  I had already planned to move to another state before Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  I was scared.  It wasn't easy street.  It was one of the hardest things I ever did.  I wanted my Mom back.  I wanted her usual, caring self back.  I wanted her to put her loving arms around me and tell me everything was going to be ok.  I needed her, I needed someone to make things all better.  My sisters weren't there for me either.  Nobody understood what I was going through.  It was so hard for me.  And dealing with my Mom's disease made it all that much harder.

I tried to ignore Mom's requests for me to leave.  I tried to reason with her but you can't reason with someone whose mind has been taken over by an evil, ugly, relentless disease.  Mom threatened to call the police on me.  She was on me constantly.  Finally she did call the police.  They came and she told them she wanted me to leave but I wouldn't go.  It was so hard hearing her tell the officers that I was free-loading off  her.  I told the officer the situation, and they understood and tried to calm Mom down.  Mom heard me tell one of the officers she has Alzheimer's.  She laughed at me and told the officer I was the one who was sick, not her.   When she seemed to be calm enough, they left.  As soon as they were gone I tried to get her to go to bed.  She wouldn't.  I tried to go to bed and she wouldn't let me.  She started in again.  Over and over again she told me to get out of her house.

I couldn't take it anymore.  I was either going to loose my mind or say something really stupid and regret it later.  So I got out my car keys, gathered a pillow and blanket, put on my coat and gloves, and went out to my car.   Mom shut the door behind me and locked it.  I got in my car and started it up with the heat full blast.  I didn't know how I was going to sleep in the cold because I couldn't keep my car running all night long.  I was not going to leave her there alone.  I was going to sleep in my car.  Somehow I felt that I was still able to protect her, even from the outside.

After the car warmed up I turned off the engine.  I laid the driver seat back and tried to sleep that way but I couldn't sleep.  So I crawled to the backseat and curled up in the blanket.  Every so often I would sit up to look at the house to see if I would notice anything strange going on inside, and see if Mom might be looking out the window or coming out to get me.  I don't even know if she knew I was still there.  She could have seen my car in the driveway, but I don't think she cared to look.

After awhile I did fall asleep and woke up when I was freezing.  I started the car every so often and slept off and on.  In the morning, as soon as the crack of daylight, I got out of the car and went to the back door and unlocked it and stepped inside.  I had to go to the bathroom so bad.  I usually have to get up during the night to go and I had been holding it for hours.  Mom was sleeping in her rocking chair, so I tiptoed down the basement to use the bathroom, then tiptoed upstairs and slept in the upstairs bedroom.

I think I slept for an hour or two and woke up when I heard Mom downstairs.  I went downstairs and she was surprised to see me there.  She was mad but not as mad as I thought she would be.  I guess she had some time to herself and time to calm down.  I could smell the scent of cleaning products and I assumed Mom did some cleaning, and I saw she did laundry, too.  I kept the house clean but she wanted to clean like she used to I guess.  I noticed she went upstairs and got my dirty clothes and had washed them too.  I was shocked. She washed them and folded them and put them upstairs for me.  It made my heart sink.  My mom was still there, my sweet caring Mom.  Like I said before, she showed herself from time to time.  When I thanked Mom for washing my clothes she said something about not being as mean as I think she is or something like that.  I wish I had that darn journal because I wrote down exactly what she said and I can't remember exactly what it was.

Spending the night in my car was a horrible experience.  It still hurts to think about everything that happened leading up to it, but I've also been able to make light of it and even laugh about it.  It's all a part of the experience of being a caregiver.  You have to take the good with the bad.  Like having to spend the rest of my nights there sleeping on the floor.


  1. Oh my heart goes out to you. You've been through the mill in a way I don't think I could have endured; but somehow it seems that when we come up to an obstacle like this strength is provided to endure. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  2. Oh my... Sleeping in a freezing cold car? It sounds like she really wanted to make it up to you the next day... bless her heart... and bless your's for enduring.

  3. Poor dear...praying God eases that memory away and brings JOYful ones to take it's place. When Mom went through this stage, she decided Daddy was a "strange man" in her apartment(attached to our house)...he bought a Motorhome to have somewhere to go sleep. Soon we were faced with her wandering/leaving mad at him up to 5 times a day. One of my older sons and I would closely trail her through our small town(up to 2 miles of walking...I called it our ALZ weight loss plan)...when I had a horse accident Sept. 2011, we quickly had a fence built to make a LOCK DOWN unit...also installed deadbolts on all doors. That solved alot of safety issues. Daddy passed away unexpectedly May 2012 so I have moved into the apartment to live...SO understand many of your feelings...hard as I try to remember the CRAZY things that happen with this illness, it still hurts to see your Mom's body saying and doing things she NEVER would have in her right mind...painful. God bless all who care for their parents!