Summer, Not So Fun
I send you greetings from sunny southern California. I’ve been in the Southland since the last week in June. The Santa Monica and San Gabriel Mountains are beautiful, but I long to see the Rocky Mountains.
My son, Russell, died in February 2009. My brother-in-law, Cleveland, died in September 2009. Let’s say it was a very bad year. While my sister and I were wrestling with our losses, our mother was “stepping out.”
That’s my term for it. She was losing her grasp on reality.
She began to get confused about what day of the week it was. Hey, we’ve all done that. But still, it was concerning. Mom always has a calendar nearby.
Mom began telling me about conversations she’d had with my father. This wouldn’t be troubling if my father hadn’t died ten years ago. She’d call, worried because Dad had been gone all day. I’d remind her that my father was dead. These occurrences began to happen more frequently.
In Aprils of this year, Mom told my sister I was having an affair. You’d have to know me to realize how funny that is. Having drinks with the girls after work became having dinner with my lover and his wife. That’s how I roll. No sneaking around for me. I had to share the news of my cheating with my husband. I didn’t want him to be the last to know. If I’m going to include my lover’s wife in dinner plans, shouldn’t my husband come along as well? Sometimes it’s easier to laugh.
She continued to go downhill. My sister and I didn’t know how much longer she could be on her own. In early June, my sister brought Mom to her house. I planned an extended visit to help clean out Mom’s house and take her to see a doctor about this issue.
Mom seems more childlike with each passing day. That isn’t a good thing. There are days she demands to go back to her house and be left alone. I understand her request. There is truly no place like home. Unfortunately, we don’t think that is the right thing for her. She gets confused. She is sometimes confused about who we are. There was the time my sister was the maid and I was the other one.
Mom asked me if I ever talked to my first husband. My friends are surprised. They didn’t know anything about that marriage, and neither did I.
This is the person who brought me into this world. This is the person who raised me. This is the person that loved me with all her heart. I’ve spent the last month watching her slip away.
There are days when she is clear and sharp. An old movie, Too Many Girls, was on television. It starred Lucille Ball. Mom told me that this is where Lucille met Desi. I checked the credits, but Desi Arnaz wasn’t listed. I took this as another example of her increasing confusion. I thought she’d enjoy the movie, even if Desi wasn’t in it. The movie was in progress. The first face we saw on the screen was Desi Arnaz. Mom’s memory hadn’t failed her.
I wish I could say I’ve handled this situation with grace. For some reason I believe she can come back. If she stepped out, why can’t she step back in? I know I’m not being logical. I hate that. She’s says something…outlandish and I snap at her before I can catch myself. I keep expecting to have a rational conversation with someone who isn’t what I consider rational. It’s like someone who keeps walking into a closed sliding glass door. Just because the door was open five minutes ago doesn’t mean it’s still open.
I’m wrapping up my vacation, but I need your help. I should have reached out to you sooner. What stories can you share with me? I need your words of wisdom as I navigate this life experience.