Mom embellished on her “sky-diving” story – a bit with the realization that jumping out of an airplane is something she would never do. In this version it was from a commercial airline with mechanical problems. Mom said she didn’t want to, but it was the crew that had forced all of the passengers to jump.
Harold told his story about going up in a stunt plane that did loop-to-loops. They had fastened video cameras to each wing and had one in the cockpit. This filmed every move that was made and then the three films were spliced together. Harold said he had it on video tape. But that it does tend to make most people sick when they watch it because it’s like being there.
Corey had explained to the family that there are seven stages of dementia and that mom is in stage five. I’m guessing Madge must only be in one or two. Maybe it was her idea to check herself in so that she would get used to the place – so her children wouldn’t have to go through what we have gone through – to the same degree. I don’t know. I’d still like to have a visit with Madge and ask her questions that are actually none of my business.
Nellie is a brand new residence. I’m thinking she is in stage 6 as she seems further gone than mom but not as far gone as Lydia or Georgette. Harold may just be in stage 4 and maybe starting stage 5 but I don’t know. I’m really not as familiar with dementia as perhaps I should be.
Corey has always been a walking encyclopedia. I don’t know that he has an actual photographic memory, but I think it’s close. He’s really well read. He constantly researches matters at hand. I think his brain holds more information than the average human being.
The other day I joined my mom and my brother, Patrick, his wife, Sunny and their son-in-law, Nate for a pioneer barbeque. We crowded around an outside table with mom and Harold. I ended up giving him my plate and went back for another one as I thought it would be easier.
Food was good. Company was good. The plate I had made for myself was really too large for Harold. It’s a wonder he ate as much as he did.
After lunch had ended, we said our good-byes to Nate, Patrick and Sunny. I told mom I would go back to her room to visit with her some more, but first I had to run out to the car for something.
Upon my return, Nellie clung onto me. “Are you almost ready to go?” she asked. She was asking as though she was expecting to go with me.
“Well, I came here to see my mom.” I told her, wondering where her family might be and if I actually resembled someone she knows.
I made my way back to the court yard with Nellie only inches behind me.
“How are you doing Nellie” I heard someone say.
I hadn’t actually known what her name was until then. I introduced her to mom and Harold and asked if they were all acquainted. None were and Harold and mom didn’t seem interested in the least. Actually, neither did Nellie. She was anxious to be leaving – I don’t think she even cared who with. But then she would also stop at each chair and sit down as her back was hurting her.
Her personality screamed volumes that she was a resident there. I hadn’t remembered seeing her before I didn’t think. I hadn’t. As it turned out she had just moved in the day before. My mom all over again. Confused at being there and trying to escape.
I think Nellie is in worse shape than my mom. But Harold seems a little more with it in the mind. Maybe not. I think mom and Harold’s stories were both a little out there when I was visiting the time before.
It’s interesting to look at Madge and think, “My mom was there at one time.” And then to look disheartened upon Lydia and Georgette and think, “and that is where she will be someday”
Her rapid movement from stage to stage doesn’t seem as rapid since she’s been at an assisted living program and is monitored from day to day and has a better schedule there than the four of us were trying to provide for her at home.
Dementia stages are a chiasmus to our birth to death. We start out totally dependent. Someone else has to feed us and change our clothes and bathe us and clean up after us.
We learn to walk and talk and learn and collect things. We make discoveries. But still we need guidance to keep us safe – someone to make certain that eat, reminding us to put on our coats and shoes, and stop us from climbing or wandering near something that could be potentially dangerous to our health.
Eventually we grow into teenagers who think they know it all and don’t wish to be told what to do. We would like our independence and treat guidance like interference. We still need someone to teach us how to drive, save money, make wise choices, etc.
The older we grow, the wiser our parents become – until we are the caregivers due to dementia. Their wise words are only memories and may somehow be twisted in their heads. Eventually they go through stages. They rebel. They hoard. Sometimes they wander into danger.
Eventually they forget how to walk and talk. They forget. They become like newborns and are dependent on someone else to feed them, clothe them, bathe them and make sure they are kept safe.