We are in the process of packing up my parent's house in preparation to put in on the market. Mom is now safely living in a memory care unit at a full time care home. She has been there 8 weeks. Dad is going to downsize and move closer to where Mom lives now. As we gather, organize and pack, we are deciding who gets what among Mom's things. That feels weird. Mom loved her pretty things. Mom has a lot of things. I know that she would want us to have what we feel a sentimental attachment to, and she would be happy knowing her pretties have a good home...but here's the deal...She is still with us in the physical world. I am having a real issue with that. I guess it might be easier to divvy up a person's possessions after they are have departed this realm of being. Intellectually, I recognize that my mother will never use her Christmas cookie-cutters again. The days of Mom setting a beautiful table with her china are long gone. Dad will never use these things, so the family treasures (in my family, treasures do not necessarily mean antiques or financially valuable items) should pass to my sister and me. Thankfully we agree on who gets what. I cannot imagine going through this process, feeling like I do, and having to argue over who gets the holiday wine glasses, or the matching white vases with the hummingbirds on them. No matter how I try and wrap my head around it though, it still does not feel good. I guess it just can't.
As I mentioned, mom has been in her new home 8 weeks. Time moves differently in there. Days are filled with routine and sameness. This is of course, intentional. A dementia patient needs this familiar routine. I visited her today, and she told me she is bored. Yes, there are activities to do and entertainers who visit. They celebrate holidays and birthdays, exercise and do crafts. Think along the level of a kindergarten, or elementary class. There is still enough of my mother left inside her head that she knows it is a little lame when your care provider applauds you and makes a big deal because you actually grabbed hold of your water glass and took a drink unassisted.. What mom does not realize, is that task is indeed a little victory for her. More often than not, this task alludes her. God bless her. She knows something is wrong with her, but she does not realize the full extent. When she asks to come home, it is heart breaking. What do you say? I change the subject, or re-direct as they say in the world of dementia care.
I worry a lot that this disease will start knocking on my brain soon. My mother has early onset dementia, which can be hereditary, although there is no clear pattern of this in her family's health history. I have asked my husband to make sure, if I am destined to share the same fate as my mother, that he honor my wishes. Please know when I list my wishes, that I am not trivializing the disease. This is really what I would wish for, to make me most comfortable. If my care becomes such that I must be taken to a facility, make sure that the paint colors there are palatable. The designer in me will be really unhappy with mauve and sea green. I want minimal patterned fabrics - nothing floral or striped. In fact, we will need to find a facility that is modern in design, yet warm. I am thinking a modern cabin with lots of windows and natural surroundings - trees, flowers and plants...and outdoor speakers. Music is essential. Keep my I-Pod on shuffle - must have Beatles, Love and Rockets, Crowded House, the Cure, 1970's dance music and a variety of musical soundtracks (but not Cats). Please dress me in all black, let me wear my straw cowboy hat, and read to me. Make sure that I get regular, professional pedicures so my toes are always painted (also have my sister visit and pluck any "lady whiskers" that might find their way to my chin).
I will be visiting Mom in the next couple of days. Along with something yummy and decadent, I will bring my son's little CD player and the Best of the Bee Gees disc. She loves the Bee Gees. We will close the door to her room and have a little dance party. I think this will lighten her spirit and hopefully take her to a happy place for a little while. We have to make the best of where she is. After all, it is a safe, loving environment and we are blessed for that. I miss my mother. I miss her so very, very much.