Mom came home five weeks ago. The Other Girl and I just wrapped on four weeks of vacations - Portugal was astounding for my sister, and I had a great time in Mexico, especially the snorkeling! (I know, you thought I was gonna say the tequila didn't you? It's a close second.) That makes this week our first foray into the new "normal" since bringing Mom back home from memory care. We've already moved forward with Monday through Friday respite care, The Other Girl will now take an extra weekday of 24/7 Mom off my plate, and I've become the heavy lifter on the weekends - days that The Other Girl finds the most challenging.
"So, how's it going?" you didn't ask? Well, I'll tell 'ya...
I got home from Cabo Thursday evening and was back in the care partner business Friday afternoon. By Saturday afternoon I was already fed up. So much for the theory of "self care" to bolster your care giving skills. Although, the massive head cold I'd imported back into the states wasn't doing me any favors either. But I trotted Mom out and about on Saturday anyway.
The West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta sounded full of promise. How could that not be a hit? Pumpkin growers rowing around in gianormous gourds, racing all over a lake in full Halloween regalia - that's so much ridiculousness in one event it had to entertain even the dourest of dementia demeanors. Sadly, I forgot Mom's appreciation of the absurd isn't quite as pronounced as mine. Also, I wasn't the only one thinking this spectacle was worth checking out - I believe all of the Pacific Northwest was in attendance, so while the regatta itself was as wonderfully wacky as I had hoped, my stress over Mom's stress in packed crowds didn't quite achieve the cheery afternoon I was going for.
So I spent the majority of Saturday with a companion whose emotions ran the gamut of disinterest to down right irritation with me, finishing this disappointing day with a tussle over toileting before tucking her in bed. As I told her sleepy face that I loved her and shut the door on her already in dream land, I realized I was back to pre-vacation levels of frustration. I believe that's a world record for losing one's vacation high. Yay. Me.
Sunday I woke up resolved to kick my own ass if I couldn't do a better job of overcoming Mom's "meh" with sincere joy throughout the day. Mom must have risen with the same mind set; she made my job easier from the get-go by being in a more adventurous spirit! It was a beautiful day too, so we drove to a harvest festival at a local farm.
I was quite entertained by ecstatic kids lugging rotund, fleshy pumpkins behind parents staggering under the weight of their own arms bursting with additional orange orbs. For her part, Mom was so enthralled with the frosted pumpkin roll treat we shared that she ventured to dance to the live accordion music in the cafe (okay, it might have just been a sugar high that got her arms swinging, but still...).
We then headed to the other side of town for a gospel concert which turned out to be less full-on gospel than I had hoped, but was no less amazing. Mom lost interest about half way through the second part, but she was content enough to sit quiet and look around, only occasionally reaching for the baseball cap of her next-door pew neighbor. He was good-natured in his confusion. I guess he kinda had to be - you don't exactly smack an old lady's hand away from your head in a church now, do 'ya?
It was a care giving success of a day. I was the beneficiary of a smiling playful Mom until she closed her eyes for sleep.
By Monday morning the head cold had truly gained momentum, reaching Category 5 sustained sneezes. Luckily all I had to do was get Mom ready for a 9am pick-up: The Other Girl and one of Mom's Ridiculously Tall Grandsons were road-tripping Mom up north to fetch my sister's newest contribution to our family... meet Olive!
She's 8-weeks of tumbling, snuffling, yip-yappering fun! Neither Mom nor the cats have taken much of shine to her yet, but they do not value unpredictable behavior in their companions, and Olive is full of puppy unpredictability. Her penchant for chasing and chewing on feet, shod or shoeless, is currently Mom's biggest issue. Barnaby Bones doesn't quite know what to make of her either, but he too could use a bit of capricious playfulness in his life. Olive brings laughter, liveliness, and snug-a-bility to a household that is often lacking. I'm quite certain her particular brand of crazy will fit in nicely with ours.
So, we're back to normal; the frustrating, comical, stressful, ever expanding menagerie that is Stumped Town Dementia "normal." It's not so great at times, but you know, it's not so bad either.