It’s all a little bit over, isn’t it? Christmas, I mean. It hurled through the week like a train rattling down the line, and shot through faster than an express. I guess it always does.
Not that I am complaining, as we all know my capacity for niceness is severely limited and I can only be trusted in a social setting for a certain amount of time before I need to go and lie down somewhere quietly by myself.
We did have a lovely Christmas day. Mother Flamingo Dancer managed to stay with us until mid afternoon, when it was obvious that she was tired and needed to return to her care facility. She was fairly coherent in the morning, but once lunch arrived she started to hallucinate a little. I was sitting with her after lunch when she reached her hand out to me and asked me to help her “shut it”. Obviously she imagined that she was holding something, and kept asking me to help her close it, so I stroked her finger a couple times and told her it was now closed and she seemed happy with that. Later she held out her empty hand and asked me to give something to my sister, so I just pretended to take whatever it was from her hand, and reached over and handed it to my sister, who didn’t bat an eyelid as she continued her conversation. It all felt a little like when you play tea parties with little ones and drink imaginary tea and cakes.
There are funny moments though. Mum has developed two distinct behaviours. She either wants to give away things, or to take things. She developed a great liking to a little pair of Santa salt and pepper shakers that Daughter2 had found for me in Holland. On several occasions as we ate lunch she turned to my sister and instructed her to make sure she took them before she left. “I’ll take those when we go.”
Later she was picking at her blouse, trying to get the buttons off. She wanted to give them away. I said “But Mum, everyone will see your underwear!”
“That’s all right” said my once very prim mother.
“What if you’re not wearing your best underwear?” I joked in reply.
“No matter,” she returned, quite unconcerned.
Most times Mum appears to know me, but some times she asks for “the other one” and that means me. I guess my sister is the main support and I am the back up, the other one.
We are going to try one more Grandma Flamingo Dancer outing to our house on Saturday, when my niece, and her young family will join us for a late Christmas celebration. Mum adores the little people, so I hope she can find some enjoyment in the day. After this I think her visits will be limited as we have a great deal of difficulty getting Mum out of the car, and also to use the bathroom; so we will make the most of her time while we can.
Having two parents suffer from dementia, in two entirely different ways, does make me wonder what the future will hold for my siblings and I. It also makes me realise just how important living in the moment, and appreciating what I have, is.
All Mum has now is the moment, and all we can do for her is make sure she feels our love and to preserve her dignity. Never does she ask about any of the contents of her house, and she no longer asks about her house. The care facility is now her house to her. The “stuff” that she hoarded and thought so important, the “good things” she kept unused for some special occasion are all now meaningless. It is a life lesson, well and truly. “Stuff” means nothing in life; love and family are everything. Everything.