Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Happy Memories and Stages of Time

 In June 2009 we celebrated my mom's 70th birthday.  Sunny had made arrangements to invite friends and family members to a "surprise" birthday party for my mom. I don't recall how many came, but there was a lot.  Many from the ward, a few from work, and family members - Bill and Kayla had taken several pictures.  I would guess there were 50 - 70 people in all.

Corey gave a tribute and several sat in folded chairs that Sunny must have borrowed from the Church.  Mom was definitely surprised and she looked so happy.  She had already been diagnosed with dementia, but it was just the early stages.  She was well aware of what was going on.  And she knew everybody there.

Last November - before we put mom into assisted living - she was overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of people at our Thanksgiving dinner - all 18 of us.  So I thought she'd really freak when we took her to the ward Christmas dinner one month later because there were over 200 at that one.  But she smiled and pleasantly greeted everyone.  She was happy.  She was a little lost in her mind.  And the following month we put her into assisted living where she spent the next four months trying to escape. 

She was definitely happy last night. Sunny and her family had dropped by the assisted living to bring mom to the annual "Christmas in July" (which came late this year) and she was happy.  Happy to see relatives she hadn't seen "forever" or "it's been a long time" - Sunny told me that she said it had been years since she had seen me - and Sunny knows for a fact that I was there just the day prior.

Garrett received a new hair cut - causing him appear to be a tad bit older.  Mom kept commentting on what a cute little boy he is.  She also kept on asking who he was and who he belonged to. 

"That's your grandson.  That's Kayla's little boy."  

She remembers Anna.  But she doesn't often remember who Gary is.  Her dementia had taken over when he was born.  She was still living at home and had planned to walk to the hospital to see him and Kayla.  Walking to the hospital from my mom's house is possible, but not a casual walk.  It's a good two miles at least.  I tried to remind her of that.

"The hospital is not that far from my house and I can walk there if I want to!"

She was in her independent stage. A stage in which she believed her grown up children were treating her like a child.  A stage when she would wander off and actually walk that distance unintentionally.  A stage that kept all of us on our toes trying hard to watch her but allow her to believe that she still had her independance.

Sunny's last experience with taking her out of assisted living was an unpleasant one.  She said my mom was so distorted and unfamiliar with her surroundings and didn't know how she'd gotten to Sunny's house or why and wanted to go "home'  - referring to the assisted living.  She has accepted it as home.  That's where she lives and has for about 8 years (in her mind; seems like every month for the rest of us has been a year for her)

She excitedly told my aunt Fern about Harold - who when she first felt an attraction towards him had told Corey that Harold was a very old man - old enough to be her father.  She told Aunt Fern that she and Harold are actually very close in age.  She believes he is five years older.  (There is a ten year difference in actuality) 

It was so wonderful to see mom genuinely happy - even if she doesn't remember that Garrett is her grandson - not to mention several relatives who we actually don't see except maybe twice a year - if that.  She had a great time.  I don't know how much of it will stay with her.  I wonder what she will tell Corey about last night's events.

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