From 2013 through most of 2014 I was my mother’s full-time caregiver, living with her to assess her failing health. I took her to numerous doctors to be eventually diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia by one and Alzheimer’s Disease by another, and I eventually placed her in a wonderful nursing home. I learned a great deal about how the brain works when one has dementia which I might write about another time. Right now, though, I choose to remember only the funny things she said. Some of these I posted on Facebook as they happened. I compile these for your enjoyment:
1. When we first moved into our apartment, one evening I had to go out for a few hours. As our landline phone had not yet been installed, I gave my mother my cell phone (a small Blackberry) and instructed her that all she needed to do was push ‘S’ and she could speak to me. I slowly repeated the instructions to make sure she understood and she said, “Yes. I understand. I pick this up and I push ‘S’. But I do have one question. Where’s the phone?”
2. From an era past: This morning as we’re leaving the Chiropodist, Mom says, “I need to go to the bathroom, but I can’t go here”. So, I ask why not. She replies, “Because I don’t have any change for a tip.”
3. My mother yesterday morning: “Is March first April Fool’s Day?” (I just couldn’t make this stuff up!)
4. Went shopping today and bought Mom 3 pairs of pajamas. She had a hard time with this. First, I tried saying “consider it an early birthday present”. That didn’t work. I finally convinced her that I bought them because I was tired of looking at her in her old tattered ones, so in effect I bought them to please myself. Even then, she asked, “will they fit you?” I said, “No, they’re too small for me”. She replied, “So, you can’t wear them after I die?” (She’s 92.) “No, Mother, I won’t be wearing your pajamas after you die!” After much debate and me convincing her I got them all on sale, she finally conceded. Whew!
5. Okay, so maybe I have a warped sense of humour, but it really made me chuckle tonight when my Mom said, “I think I’d better go to bed. I just wrote a Christmas card to a dead person.”
6. The conversation tonight while I’m washing the dishes and Mom is still sitting at the table:
Mom: “On the shelf over the TV, is that tall thing a candle?”
Me: “Yes, it is.”
Mom: “So if the lights went out, it would shed a lot of light.”
Me: “Yes, it would. I have lots of candles. We don’t have to worry.”
Mom: (singing) “Where was little Johnny when the lights went out. That’s an old song. Do you know it?”
Me: “No, I don’t”
Mom: “Down by the river with his dickie hanging out!”
As difficult as it was to watch my mother’s brain slowly die over these months, I will always remember and cherish that time with her. Many conflicted with dementia are negative and grumpy, but she was consistently cheerful and content during this phase. For that I am grateful.
I (with my wife’s help) took care of my mother with dementia for over ten years, during most of which she was unable to carry on a conversation. Twenty years have since passed, and even after all this time, I find it very hard to talk about….so I’ll say no more, except I well know what you went through.
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