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  • Writer's pictureLickety Glitz

Happy days are here again!

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

"I see your happy face disguise, Mother, and raise you a poop mask!"

Little Miss Funshine has been in a pretty good mood as of late. Now, don't be jealous of our good fortune, we're still laden with anxiety and a bundle of boo-hoos for about 40% of our days, but to be the beneficiaries of a mostly content Mom as we navigate around, over, and/or through dementia's pitfalls and perils is a super duper place to be.

"There were once two sisters who were not afraid of the dark because the dark was full of the other's voice across the room..." ~ Jandy Nelson, The Sky is Everywhere

I've been taking advantage of this recent bout of serenity to raise a ruckus near and far. We hopped on over to Central Oregon last week (by "hopped" I mean drove like a bat out of hell), to visit Mom's sister, my Aunt Ginny. Our last visit a couple of months ago ended in an anxious on-her-way-to-enraged Mom after only 2 hours (we could not for the life of us figure out why, but left abruptly in an attempt to calm her down - it didn't work). This visit, she was smiling, laughing, hugging, and didn't fly into a frenzied panic at spending the night! My cousins Denice and Nicole were there as well, making it a full-house of females. With the greatest of pleasure, Mom and I immersed ourselves in the humor and love of these women. The next day I happily made record time at getting back over the mountain and home, which meant I had to forgo my favorite Dairy Queen (I'll be back for you, Peanut Buster Parfait!), and Mom had a bursting bladder by the time we hit our driveway, but it was worth it (you know, to me).

An impromptu family dinner this week was also filled with mirth (well, maybe not for The Other Girl - she had to cook it). One of Mom's ridiculously tall grandsons gathered up the usual cast of familial characters for what turned out to be an early Thanksgiving feast, joined by Ridiculously Tall Father of said grandsons, and our favorite Crazy Grandma Sandy. It was a lovely night.

Mom is also back in her Opening Minds through Art classes at Rose Villa. I was concerned her dementia might have progressed past the stage where she could still participate and enjoy the classes, but... HA! Dementia! You haven't ran the table yet! Mom creating art with her volunteer friend Jan is still good times for them both. Her OMA Art Show will be held Friday, January 11th, at Rose Villa, so mark your calendars now to get one of Mom's pieces of original artwork!

And even the critters of Stumped Town Dementia are joyous. Well, one of them...

Olive's antics have the human members of our household in stitches. Barnaby Bones and the cats? Not so much.

So what's the secret to our success? I dunno <shrug>. Perhaps it's the increased respite care. Now that she goes five days a week to Thelma's Place, Mom's time in an active community of peers has considerably expanded. Maybe having more social interaction than just the The Other Girl and I for the majority of her days has increased her brain's engagement, benefitting her outlook all-around. I'm certain the increased utilization of respite care has been beneficial for me - perhaps Mom is picking up on my heightened enjoyment of our time together, or, with more time to myself, I'm better equipped to capitalize on her peace and encourage it to bloom into actual pleasure.

Or, most likely, we're just in a dementia upswing.

We're never completely free of the dementia lifestyle we all know and loathe. This occurred to me yesterday as I spent the afternoon scrubbing poop stains out of Mom's bedroom carpet. It occurred to The Other Girl in full-force last night as Mom didn't sleep AT ALL, which meant she didn't either. We are, of course, still steeped in agitation at times, just much less of the time. And we have been experiencing crying jags, a new behavior for Mom which popped up this last month. These fearful fits will sometimes last a couple hours, and will hit out of the blue, but more often pass like a spring shower, leaving us with a mother much more likely to smile than sulk.

As I was attempting to tuck her into bed the other night, Mom couldn't figure out how to lay down. After I made several failed attempts to swing her legs up on to the bed while she sat on the side, she finally held her stockinged feet up off the ground, nodded to them then looked at me knowingly and said, "See" as if her lower extremities were somehow the culprits in this bedtime blunder.

I burst out laughing. Then so did she. We continued the laughter as we pushed and pulled her into what had to be a most uncomfortable sleeping arrangement. When all four limbs were finally on the bed I called it a win, threw a blanket over her, and kissed her a merry goodnight. I shut her door not knowing how long our good fortune will last, but so very happy that happy days are here again.

p.s. Denice - I got my flu shot. :)


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