Time to Make a Call…

Dealing with my demented mom means I don’t have a lot of control. She is the boss or dementia is the boss — you can’t fight with her… you can certainly try, be my guest, but you’ll lose or lose your sh!t.

Where am I going with this? Ah, well, my mom was having a moment… a very long moment starting from the very moment we walked into church last Sunday. Not five minutes after walking into St. Jerome’s my mom, in a very rude way, made a couple scootch-over, so she could have her front-row seat; she yelled at me and grabbed my wrists in front of a handful of churchgoers because I had to delete her name from the Communion list — it wasn’t her turn. Just because she wants to do something outside of the house doesn’t mean can… Mike the Communion guy said no, so I had to communicate this message to her. Never an easy task. Then, in the middle of mass, she spit. Yes. She spit in the middle of Padre Andres’s sermon. When Padre Andres asked a couple who just celebrated 34 years of marriage to come up so he could pray for them, my mom yelled, “No, my daughter, Maria Louisa… pray for her!” Maria Louisa, her friend (not her daughter) and I had to quickly shoosh her. Two hours of this and I was on the verge of losing my sh!t, again. I had to leave. I went to Target, my sanctuary, to cool off.

I love Target. I love Starbucks. Thank god, the two share a space.

I had cooled down by Monday and by Monday evening, I was fine… until my dad picked me up from work (we are sharing a car right now) with my mom. As I was walking out of the office… the owner and founder of our company directly in front of me, along with five or six other colleagues… my demented mom screamed, “mihijta, mihijta!!!”

My dad rolled up the window and she proceeded to pound on the window, still yelling… albeit muffled, “mihijta, mihijta!!!!!”

I looked down. I turned red. I was horrified. I was livid. God. Did they see? I felt a wave of shame I haven’t felt since elementary or middle school. I know that’s a terrible thing to say, but it’s my work, and it’s true

After getting home, I called my therapist in New York City and made an appointment for phoner. I thought I was handling things pretty well. I had been calm, very Zen-like. I was in control. People were saying, “Wow, Kathy, you’re handling this so well!” Indeed. Oh, so well.

I like having a degree of control in my life, and since this disease is the boss most of the time, I don’t have that luxury often. This last week and a half has been insane. No control. I am not cool as a cucumber. My fuse is short. Way too short. I have to talk. I have to grab the reins. I need to take a step back. I need to learn how to cut myself some slack. Maybe everyone is right, maybe I am too hard on myself. Or, maybe I just suck as a daughter. I wish patience would kiss me on the head.


  1. I am an artist who makes work about dementia – prompted by the decline of my mum with the condition.
    Can I recommend a book? It’s called ‘Contented dementia’ by Oliver James. I find this helped me rethink what was going on, and rethink my reaction too.
    Not that it’s easy, I still fail to understand why she can remember she doesn’t have periods, so doesn’t think the pads are necessary – but doesn’t remember bladder control has been a problem for almost 60 years, and the pads jolly well are a must!

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