The whole family went to a ceilidh last weekend where mum danced for the first time in ages. I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. She had trouble keeping the steps in her mind and was very unsteady on her feet, but she enjoyed herself which was the main thing. It was lovely to see mum dancing again.
She dance this dance with my sister after struggling to dance the Gay Gordons with me. I think this was my fault. It’s a fast dance and I knew mum would be slower than the rest of the dancers. I didn’t want to hinder their progress so I danced with mum away from the circle. This meant that mum spent all the dance watching what everyone else was doing while ignoring what she should be doing herself. The dance Alison chose was slower, so mum could join in with everyone else dancing. Oh well, I’ll do better next time.
Mum has never been a morning person. These days she even thinks that a ten o clock start is stupidly early. She can’t motivate herself, so my sister and I phone her with reminders. We phone to wake mum up, then again to get her up. Whatever happens, you mustn’t get mum out of bed as soon as she wakes up. She’ll have been in a deep deep sleep. If you make her get up too quickly she can stay dozy till teatime.
The record for cajoling mum out of her bed via a phone is 15 minutes. She can’t see why you want her out of bed when she still has ages till she needs to be ready. Her memory of how long a task takes hasn’t changed, even though she herself has slowed down to a crawl. Tasks like eating breakfast can take a ridiculous about of time if mum’s left to her own devices. She just drifts away into blankness.
If we need to get mum up early, we go round to keep her on track. When mum had her possible mini stroke at Easter, she was given an emergency appointment at 9am in a hospital 25 miles away! They’d phoned mum to arrange it, so we only found out about the Tuesday appointment on Sunday evening. Unfortunately, Monday was a bank holiday so we couldn’t even phone to rebook. I’m not sure how Alison got mum out by 8am.
I’m feeling a wee bit down about mum tonight. When mum arrived for our lunch date, her RVS driver asked me quietly if I was taking her to the weekly dementia lunch nearby. Mum overheard (ears still pin sharp!) and was very offended.
“I don’t think he’s talking about you, so why does he think that I would be interested in a dementia lunch?” “I don’t even have dementia”.
“Errr, yes you do.”
“Well who told you that?”
A depressing start to our lunch…
Mum complained a lot about being very tired over lunch. Bill has a theory that this is her way of explaining to herself that her head feels fuzzy and not able to process thoughts properly. She’s not ill, she’s just tired.
The whole thing’s left me feeling a little down so wine is on the cards I think. I’m sure I’ll feel more upbeat tomorrow.
I’ve decided that when I’ve not got any updates about mum to write about, I’ll recall happier times as a reminder that mum hasn’t always been this way. Unfortunately when I first decided on this plan I couldn’t think of any happy memories at all. Mum has always been an embarrassing, utterly uncool mum. Sometimes it’s even felt like we talk in different languages.
I really started to think that the dementia had overwhelmed any happy memories I had involving my mum.
However, all I needed to do was find one happy memory to push past the detritus of the last few years to find some more, much needed, happy memories. They are still there, they just need to be brought out.
Mum has always approached her life with humour, so she’s laughed along with us through the upset and annoyance of her current situation. She has allowed us to lighten this nightmare by laughing about it which is fantastic because I’d much rather laugh than cry.
Happy memory No. 1
I have only one memory in my childhood of mum being cuddly with me. I don’t remember why, but we were going from house to house in our village – probably collecting for charity. I was quite young, and my head just reached past mum’s waist. Between houses I walked with my head underneath mum’s poncho while hugging her round her waist. And for a while she let me. That’s it. I’m sure there must have been other times, but that’s the only one I can recall. It must have been a big moment for me. I smile whenever I think about it.
Mum was always did her best, and I always knew she cared deeply for us. However, I don’t remember hugs and kisses good night, or any I love you’s either. Mum had a hard time after my dad left which left its mark.
The dementia has made mum a lot more demonstrative than she was before. It’s weird to think that our relationship is changing for the better because something so dreadful has happened. I really don’t know what to make of it. I was prepared for mum’s personality to change so I lost the person I knew. I was unprepared to find her becoming a more emotional person.
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