Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blog 42: A Wonderful Visit With My Mom

I recently flew back to visit my mom with my daughter Rose and four year old granddaughter, Abbie.  Mom was sleeping when we walked into her room at the nursing home.  I quickly replaced the photos on her wall where she scratched out my face.  It didn't even really bother me because I know my mom has dementia and gets confused about things.  It was very evident during our weeks visit, as we would find out.  Mom's memory has declined and her behavior is more confusing.

After replacing the photographs with new ones I sat on my mom's bed and watched her sleep.  She was in a deep sleep and I didn't have the heart to wake her, yet I was so excited to let her know we were there.  After a few minutes I touched her arm and said, "Wake up sleepy head." She woke up suddenly and smiled at me.  She said, "Oh, Lizzie!"  She then looked over at Abbie standing by the bed, and she said, "she's beautiful!"  Mom asked what her name was, and asked again and again throughout the day.  It has been over a year since they've seen each other in person.  Abbie was a little shy and seemed scared at first.  It's understandable that a four year old would be apprehensive when seeing someone with behavior that is different from what they are used to.

Abbie was reluctant to give her great grandma, or big nana, as she calls her, a hug.  But when she did it seemed like neither one of them wanted to let go.  I have another picture of them hugging and my mom had tears in her eyes.  I couldn't tell if they were tears of happiness or sadness, maybe it was a little of both.   Mom's face looked so sad.  Clearly my mom needed these hugs and I believe Abbie understood that.   Mom is not as likely to give out hugs to anyone else so Abbie was very fortunate to get them!

Mom wanted to braid Abbie's hair.  She did a great job of it, too.

My mom was just wonderful that first day.  She was so happy and relaxed.  We took her out for lunch and went for a drive, and then we went down to the river and fed the geese.  My daughter snapped a picture of me holding Mom's hand as we walked to the car.  My mom isn't as steady on her feet and needs help getting up and down curbs and getting situated in the car.

The next day Mom was different.  She was still happy to see us but she was acting much more confused and she was complaining about some of the staff and residents there and even about her family.  Mom is really starting to forget who her family is and how much she always loved and protected each and every one of us.  When she says things about someone in the family it makes me sad for my mom.  I know she doesn't mean what she says but it still hurts to hear it.  She gets her daughters mixed up and her grandchildren, and she will say something about someone that isn't true.  She may remember some little thing from the past, but then the story gets twisted.  She even said, "Lizzie steals my things."  I said, I'm Lizzie mom, and she said, "Well, I don't mean you. I'm sorry."  Sometimes it's hard to tell if she even knows I'm her daughter anymore.

On the last day of our visit my other daughter and her boyfriend came to see my mom, and an old and dear friend of my mom's drove the three hour drive to see her, too.  He is also 76 years old and is in pretty good health.  They've known each other for over 50 years.  He hadn't seen my mom in about two years.  My mom didn't recognize him, but after they talked, and he brought up some things from the past, she said, "I think I'm beginning to remember you."  She said some inappropriate things to him, but she does that sometimes.  He understands that it's not my mom, it's her illness that makes her talk like that.  I was really happy that he came to see her and he said that he would be back.

My daughter and I took a bunch of pictures and I would post more but I am trying to be respectful of my mom and my family and keep our identities private at this time.  Some day I may change my mind, but for now, I think this is best.  We got some wonderful four generation pictures that we will cherish for a lifetime.  I almost feel guilty about snapping pictures though.  My mom always hated having her picture taken, but now that she has dementia, she cooperates.  She even seems to like it now.  I think if my mom was in her right mind she would be throwing her hands in front of her face like she used to, saying...Lizzie, STOP!  

I think my mom had too much stimulation with all the visitors there on our last day. After the others left, my daughter and granddaughter and I said good-bye.  My mom was kind of agitated and was saying things that didn't make any sense.  I knew it was time to leave, and I knew it was going to be hard.  I tried to hug her and she kind of pulled away, as she did with Rose.  She did give Abbie a hug.   I told her I love her and she said she loves me, too.  We said we'd miss her very much and she said to come back soon.  She looked so sad sitting in her rocking chair.  It was as if she knew that she can't communicate the way she wants to and she knew that there was something wrong with her.  I really and truly felt like she was crying out for help,  and she wanted me to understand she doesn't mean the things she says.  She wants us to know she loves us, and I do know she loves us all very much.   

As we walked out of the room her last words to me were, "Be careful."  That look on her face and those words told me that my mom knew I am her daughter.  Just those two words and the hopeless expression on her face made my eyes fill with tears as I walked out to the car.  I felt so incredibly sad and helpless.  Rose got into the car and she hugged me and cried, too.  She said she probably won't remember her the next time she sees her, and sadly, she's probably right.  Abbie, having never seen her nana cry, sensed our pain and said, "Awwwwwwww," as she watched her mom and nana hold on to each other as we cried our silent tears.  


  1. I will never forget the look on her face when we walked out of her room and she told you to "be careful". There were so many emotions mixed up into that moment for me. Her face... She was looking at you you with this motherly look, but her expression also looked sad and concerned and a little angry/frustrated. I was looking at her thinking... this may be the last time I see her or at least the last time I will be standing by her and she will know that I am a familiar face. It's so sad.

  2. I will never forget the appearance in her face when we moved away of her bedroom and also she told one to "be careful". On a search engine were numerous emotions mixed up directly into which moment for my situation. Her face... She was actually hunting at just you you with this particular motherly look, however her expression also looked sad and worried as well as a little angry/frustrated.