"Where yar'd you?"
Still here, Mom. Still here.
While dementia's progression has brought on new physical challenges in the form of keeping Mom upright, it's also granted a mellower frame of mind for her that's been steadily growing since the beginning of the year. Now, I don't for a minute trust Dementia to proffer such generosity without a king's-ransom of a price to be paid (and we all know what that price will be), but for the time being we are grateful our pretty, pretty princess is getting a bit of relief from the demented dragon devouring her brain.
Since January, the rage stage has been slowly dissipating, still making the occasional appearance during showering or toileting, but the random lashing outs are becoming a thing of the past.
Although I am often greeted with a morning face full of thunder (and sometimes that storm a'brewing results in a lightening bolt right in the kisser before lunch time), it's more likely that those dark clouds clear to a blank canvas after her tea and oatmeal; a blank canvas primed for smiles and hugs if we can goof 'em out of her.
I mean, we even got her through a Mother's Day without a single incident of torture! (I know, we were clearly off our game this year.) Mom was thrilled with The Other Girl's gift of a pancake breakfast (her favorite), and enjoyed my Mother's Day tribute of bbq'd hamburgers with all the trimmings for dinner that evening.
And last week we felt comfortable enough health-wise to partake of a family meal - The Other Girl whipping up a feast while the much-missed Ridiculously Tall Grandsons elicited beaming smiles from Mom's normally empty visage as she pin-balled from one to the other in the kitchen.
This weekend I was treated to not zero, not one, not even two complete sentences, but a record number THREE FULLY FUNCTIONING STATEMENTS from my long-since verbally destitute mother, all in the course of one afternoon drive!
"Well, do it right!"
"I like this."
There you have it, folks. Dementia miracles do exist.
Mom is getting some much deserved reprieve from what has been the biggest, baddest part of dementia for her and us. This should be making our caregiving easier and more enjoyable - but instead my sister and I are facing cracks in our respective caregiving strongholds.
I discovered our twin malaise because, as of late, The Other Girl and I have been working hard at healing some of the deepest wounds we've inflicted on each other throughout our sisterhood. It's slow going, with a one-step-forward two-steps-back success rate, but to our credit we keep showing up for the fight. When she recently admitted to me that her evenings in her own home are spent smoking, drinking, and playing games on her phone for hours, I laughed, then confessed that a mere 2-hours east of her I was spending my nights in the exact same manner. Apparently, we aren't so different in our choice of comfort measures.
But I think these behaviors are telling of another truth I for one am loathe to acknowledge and examine...
...I'm worn out. I'm ground down. I put one caregiving foot in front of the other but there is not much passion anymore in planning an engaging day for Mom. I can barely rustle up a "What's the least I can get away with?" strategy. And my heavy drinking at night means the next day I'm often lacking even the bare minimum of motivation to provide Mom the opportunity for pleasure.
At least my crumbling caregiver acumen is coinciding with Mom's dementia progression - she's requiring less engagement with the outside world, sporting a growing disinterest in life, relinquishing her spirit bit by bit, but that's working towards the logical conclusion of her journey. It is not appropriate for me and The Other Girl to be dipping our toes in the same mournful muck, covering our own exhaustion with this dementia sojourn by turning to the fleeting comfort of our vices.
And yet, I am both worried about my Miss Begotten ways and... not one bit concerned. I think I need this right now, this nightly ritual of rebellion against my job, my health, societal norms. We both feel as if we are waiting for something. Something outside of us. Something bigger than our inner selves. Something that, until it happens we are unable to conjure the energy, the motivation to pull ourselves out of these gutters of our own making.
We are pretty sure that "something" is Mom's death.
A few months back MotherMinder asked if I noticed the way Mom says "Where are you?" I admitted I hadn't been paying attention. She chuckled when she gave me her impersonation, adding that it made her heart toasty to hear it.
I listened for it on my Mom days and finally heard her little voice in the next room softly ask the ether, "Where yar'd you?"
We yar'd right here, Mom. Diminished, our sparkle fading, our resolve weakening, but we yar'd right here.
To the bitter end.