My mom turns 74 today.
She has no idea that today’s her birthday.
She doesn’t even know I’m coming over to ring in her big 7-4.
I bought her hot pink nail polish, a pair of earrings and Almond Joy.
Happy Birthday mommy.
I don’t know if I’m a good daughter…. My two cousins and aunt (mom’s sister and her two nephews) blasted me a few months ago because of the name of the blog… My DEMENTED Mom. The word demented when translated into Spanish is apparently a not very kind word. I can’t say much about that. I didn’t know it was a wretched word in Spanish.
Alas, my mother tongue is English, the blog is in English and according to Merriam-Webster, DEMENTED has two meanings:
1. mad, insane
2. suffering from or exhibiting cognitive dementia
My mother fits both definitions quite nicely. The assault on my use of the word was so incredibly hurtful. They attacked me, the blog and from my point of view, my role as her daughter. I felt like such a horrible person, a rancid daughter, clumsy, baroquely grotesque, wretched and positively cheap……………..I knew it was a strong word……. but the name of my blog was never meant to disparage my mom or her memory………. she is demented. She is sometimes mad. She does suffer from cognitive dementia.
I love my mom.
I miss my mom.
This morning I woke up wishing that I had started wearing a purse when I was younger—when she told me too. Silly, random pre-dawn, pre-caffeinated thought. She used to tell me that I should wear a purse. That a girl my age should wear purse. I hated purses then (love ’em now), but I wish I just did what she wanted me to do. It would have made her happy.
I no longer have any relationship with these individuals—there’s no point. That and I’m stubborn but mostly I don’t think there is a reason to resume relations with people who just don’t get it. Who never will. I don’t know if I’m sad about that…… maybe more disappointed…………. but for me, family goes beyond blood lines. Natalie.
And of course, my Jon.
I talked to Sandra Gonzalez at the Alzheimer’s Associate Desert Southwest Chapter. My mom hates baths. Sandra was sharing some tips for making bath time a little easier…. Play soothing music. Prepare her bath before she gets near the bathroom (apparently the noise may be amplified for those suffering from dementia). My mom screams. She yells, PORQUE ME PONES? PORQUE ME PONES?
That’s dementia for, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? YOU KNOW I HATE WATER. PUT MY CLOTHES BACK ON. I SWEAR TO GOD IF YOU PUT ME IN THE WATER I’M GOING TO SCREAM. YOU’RE REALLY PISSING ME OFF.
We also talked about communication…………. communicating with my mom, understanding her and talking to her in her own language. My mom has less than a handful of phrases that she uses and repeats over and over….. I use the same phrases to talk to her.
Oddly, she understands me. No idea what she thinks I’m saying, but she responds….. in her own demented language. I am in her world. Every time I visit my mom, I step into her world, I engage her……….. I “allow” her to shop lift………. I listen to her. I paint her nails hot pink. I clip her finger and toe nails. I dress her sometimes—something I actually like to do……. granted she ended up with a pair of Converse One Stars, but she likes them and I own the same pair (I like it when we match…………… it’s my thing).
Tomorrow, March 25, is my mom’s birthday. She’ll be 73.
Actually, it was a tiny accident. She can control her bowels (and her bladder too)…………….. you just have to get her to a bathroom when she has to go—cause let’s face it: When you gots to go, you gots to go. I tried. There was a line. I rushed her to another bathroom. I failed. It was a smudge. A large-ish smudge.
Although, this wasn’t a huge mess/misstep/or even a big deal……… this accident got me thinking (well, I’ve thought about it, but I try to repress it)…………. what will happen when accidents become every day occurrences?
What will happen when she can’t wipe herself?
Wiping is such a funny, mostly strange rite of passage-slash-human experience… when you’re able to wipe on your own, you’re a big kid. When you can no longer perform this act solo, you’re an invalid.
As the child of a parent who will eventually have to be wiped by another human being, I really don’t know what to make of it. I mean, I’m writing about it, but I don’t have any profound words to share nor have I made a startling realization about life and its meaning, etc, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah…….
I guess all I can say is that at that point, we’ll likely have to place my mom in a facility, and that scares the shit out of me. We’ve been down that road……. it was brutal, emotional, messy and grotesque. I sincerely hope to never have to relive that horrendous experience ever again…………………… I hope she never has to relive that again.
Right now, my mom knows where HOME is.
So while the woman may not know my name, her husband’s name, or what year it is, and she may use the phrase, “Despierta America” to describe everything from the clouds in the sky to her most favorite food in the world (french fries), my mother knows exactly where her secret (not really) stash of apple juice is hidden—on her bathroom counter (don’t ask) in her house.
My boyfriend says I worry too much.
I haven’t written to much about my new (actually, it’s been over a year) relationship with Jon. Jon is one of the most compassionate and understanding individuals in my life. He is patient and always kind……………………………….. best of all, he’s a gem with my mom. He holds her hand. He talks to her. He hugs her. He does everything a good man should. So what’s wrong with me? Why do I worry so much? Why do I let loneliness and depression consume me? For nearly a month, I’ve been depressed. I can’t always cope with myself the way I feel like I should. I beat myself up over it. I feel tremendous guilt about it……………………………….. worse yet, when I get like this, I can’t really function as a good girlfriend.
Case in point.
Jon got sick. So what did I do? I got angry at him. I was annoyed that he couldn’t do much except lie in bed. So, now I’m left to my own devices plus I feel obligated to care for you. Do you need anything? I asked half-heartedly. NO. Good. I don’t want to care for you. I want you to get better so we can go out and enjoy the sunny day. I hate feeling trapped inside all day. I hate feeling trapped. I’m sick of people being sick. It infuriates me. I came over after spending the day with my mom—he was feeling slightly better. I told him that I was angry at him. He said he knew. Then he said that he’s noticed that anytime he’s sick, I get annoyed.
I never realized I had a habit of this kind of bad behavior. The guilt consumed me. I felt terrible………………………. but I also knew why. I don’t want to have to deal with another sick person. Jon is seven years older than me and sometimes I think, what if something happens to him? I don’t know if I can handle another loved one succumbing to a disease like dementia. What if I become the abusive caregiver that you hear about on the evening news—I disgust myself.
So this weighs on me. Then the loneliness sits heavily on my shoulders. Some days, I just miss my mother. Some days, I just sit on my sofa and I feel absolutely alone. The phone doesn’t ring. No one is texting me. I’m sitting here by myself listening the cars go by outside. I have no siblings or close relatives nearby. No one to say, let’s go have lunch and talk. I get lost in my head and in the stories………….. the what-ifs. The what-if-my mom-weren’t-sick is the big what-if. I would probably be living at home saving money and not stressing about the little things. Like a job that drains me emotionally. Like saving money. Like my fear of getting fired. Like my fear of getting some disease and not having anyone to caregive for me. Like my fear of never having children. If my mom weren’t sick, maybe I could actually freelance and write that book……………………………………….except what would I actually write about? My mom’s disease has brought me to this very place—a place where people have actually heard of My Demented Mom. A place where I have a forum to talk about her, me, our relationship and this disease. Do you realize how wrong this all is? God just laughs. He created the world in six days and bailed on the seventh. And then he left us alone. Frail and vulnerable to fend for ourselves.
Optimists would call me a pessimist. Maybe I am. I do try to appreciate the moments that I have. There are so many wonderful blessings in my life. I have my health, my mind, a job, a loving boyfriend, cats, parents who love me so much and good friends like Natalie, Cheryl and Lindsay.
I just wish I could get over myself and enjoy the moments more instead of reveling in the darkness.
My pity party is boring.
I try hard not to dwell on what could have been. It’s an easy enough trap to fall into for someone like me who already suffers from “future living disorder”… I worry about what may happen, what could happen and what I hope happens, instead of focusing on the here and now. There is no cure for this except forcing myself to stay grounded—in one place. Phoenix. With my family. In a 748 square foot studio. With very high ceilings so I don’t feel “trapped.” That’s my other ailment, “trapiditis” or the fear of being stuck. I usually move to remedy that, except this time I can’t (or won’t).
Since I can’t jump ahead into my non-existent future, I’ve been looking back—at what could have been. So what’s with all the time travel? I guess the fact that everyone is having babies. Baby girls (OK, there’s one boy coming sometime next year). Everyone. Seriously. It seems each week, I’m hearing that someone is having a girl and they’re all due around February or March… around my birthday (with the exception of one baby girl due early next year—congrats Nedra!)
I always wanted kids. I dreamed of a large family, probably because I came from a family of three—2 parents and me. I remember thinking at one point that I wanted to be a mom by 26. I’m 33. Totally missed that boat. When I was 25, I thought I had met the one. We talked about having kids. A boy and a girl. Perfect. We even named them, but then that’s what you do when you’re smitten with one another, contemplating the perfect life together. Perfect.
Two years later, things had changed and he no longer wanted children. I convinced myself that I didn’t either. And as my mother’s disease became all too evident, it just seemed like having kids would be too much… even if we were going in that direction, but we weren’t so it served as proof that I had made the right decision. No kids. Besides, how could I care for a baby and help my dad with my mom? What if my mom hugged my baby too hard and killed it? What if my mom lost my baby? What if my mom dropped or even microwaved my baby, like she mircrowaves everything else!?
I can’t even cope with my mom’s disease, how could I possibly deal with a child?
That’s what I tell myself. To this very day. Of course, I’m no longer with the one and so (technically) the baby door is once again open, well cracked open.
Or not. ENTER the present moment (stage left)
I’m 33. Tick tock.
I’m not married.
I can’t afford a baby.
I have no help in the form of family, except my dad who is busy de-raising my mom.
Slightly ajar just got slammed.
So I don’t think about birthing babies and I try to beat it into my subconscious that a child would not be a good idea. I think it’s working. I once even went to a psychic and asked her about children—she said she doesn’t see kids in my future. More evidence. It’s literally not in the cards.
Fast Forward. Present moment. On the laptop. Typing. And I can honestly say, I don’t know if I want a baby anymore. I’m TBD.
Instead, what I think about is what could have been. Maybe I should have ended my relationship when he said he didn’t want kids. Maybe I should have given him an ultimatum—I want kids. It’s me and our two non-existent children or nothing.
Maybe if I had, I would be a parent now. Maybe I would be having my second or third baby—creating a that large family of my dreams in a beautiful house with a large back yard and a partner that teaches our kids how to play some kind of sport or something.
Maybe I would not be sitting here alone on my Macy’s sofa thinking about what could have been and feeling a tremendous sense of anger and frustration at him, at my mother, at myself, at the hand I’ve been dealt.
I debated whether or not to do this, but I also think its important to hear her…… she is mother, a wife, an aunt, a friend, a daughter, a teacher, a sister, a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law and more. This disease may rob of her of her memories and her self, but she’s a human being who deserves to be loved, to be heard and most importantly, RESPECTED. I just wanted share a piece of her. Her voice.
In a nutshell, she’s asking me why I didn’t make it on Sunday and if she’s talking to her daughter. She goes on to ask me to come over to take her to church (fruita) because wasn’t able to attend.
Mom and dad popped by the house the other day to pick me up and take me to the airport. Nothing unusual. Opened the door, the ‘rents walked in, hugged dad and prepared for my mom’s usual, OVER THE TOP, HUGS AND KISSES… “I luf you! I luf you! You’re my husband! You came out of ME!” But nothing. She said hello and just looked around.
She had no idea where she was or who I was! In fact, she seemed confused.
It was surreal. I wasn’t hurt or angry. I was actually glad she was calm while I gave dad the tour of my house and showed him where the cat food was stashed.
About 20 minutes later as we got into the care she asked me if I was her daughter.
She looked at my dad, “Is that our daughter?”
“Are you our daughter?”
“Mijita! OH MIJITA!! MIJITA MIJITA!”
I’m not especially surprised that she didn’t recognize me. It’s part of the disease. It’s more trippy than anything, and I can’t change how this disease progresses, nor can I take it personally. You know, I think I’m so used to this life, this shattered life—that is the nature of her disease—that nothing really phases me.
Nothing really hurts anymore.
I nearly lost it on Sunday. Nearly lost what remaining droplets of patience I had. Mom was especially hyper the other day, and, of course, incredibly eager to talk to her boyfriend: The Priest…………. over and over and over again about the same topic: coming over to dinner. My husband wants you to eat the fruit with us. Tonight! You come tonight!!!
Before Mass. As he’s approaching the alter. During Communion. As he’s exiting the alter. Outside.
Damn you short term memory!
However, what caused me to very nearly step off the ledge was the fact that the church decided to celebrate the priest’s 15 years commitment to the most holy universal church with carrot cake. That’s nice. What a surprise! And what a surprise when a gaggle of little children ran up to the front of the church to hug him.
In theory, this would be positively adorable. In theory. The problem is, mom loves the little ones and she loves nothing more than to tell them that she loves them. Thing is, instead of saying, “I luf you,” she grabs their little—still growing and therefore delicate—hands and yells, “I LUF YOU VERY MUCH. I LUF YOU”.
This can be scary if you’re only 3 or 4 or 5 years old. This is scary when you’re 33………….. mostly because I think of the freaked out parent who is going to one day come over and say something to her and to me about grabbing their little, still developing child (she has a firm grasp)—thankfully, the Hispanic community is too polite to say anything overtly rude. Mostly, they just stare and the younger ones just laugh. UGH!
So I was getting irritated. And irritation, when it comes to my beloved mother, leads to me utilize reason as a means to communicate with her. I was going all out LOGIC with her. I know, absolutely stupid and a complete emotional drain, which then frustrates me, angers me and makes me want to cry. Thing is, I can’t help it. I want her to understand that there are consequences to her actions.
Explain to her the ramifications of her actions.
Ask her to NOT grab those sweet, FRAGILE, little hands, which could break if you squeeze too hard!
PLUS, everyone STARES AT ME MOM! AT ME. LIKE I’M THE MEAN DAUGHTER!
This typically results in her a) laughing at me or b) telling me that no, they like it and she’s going to do it anyway, so fuck off (added for effect, it’s not in her limited vocabulary. She would probably say, FRUIT OFF).
After a few lame attempts to restrain her. Several LONG STARES from members of the church, we left and headed to Target to decompress.
Not before rewarding her bad behavior with nachos…………… 4 months ago, she used to love the fake cheese. Last Sunday she hated it. Weird.
Target. Stay on Target.
I love you Target.
She knows we go to Target for several reasons: to walk around/to spit on the floor/to spend some quality time together/to give dad some extra alone time.
The one thing I will say is that my patience meter typically refills after a few moments………………………….. or once I walk through the hallowed doors of Target.
Target is also one of those places where we’ve had some sweet, tender moments (believe it or not………. you buy toilet paper there; I bond with mom) and last Sunday was one of them.
I often don’t get “mom” moments. So when I do, I find them to be incredibly tender and sweet—it’s not typical, and maybe more mother/daughter in the sense that I’m the mother and she’s the little daughter offering fashion advice………………………… I was trying on a dress and she was actually doing a very good job of helping me decide whether to buy it. I tried on like 3 different garments and she was standing there telling me in her own way that it doesn’t look right or that it’s a good fit. She was very helpful and just a great shopping companion that day.
Funny thing is, my mom used to be a shopaholic. The woman LOVED to shop. She would buy clothes just because they were on sale! Would she wear them. No. But she bought them, because by God, it was on SALE! She still has two closets dedicated to her clothes……………… but dementia has taken away that joy. She hates trying on clothes and she only wears a few outfits, mostly she likes to wear this one particular Kelly Green dress that she bought for my cousin Lisa’s wedding in 1996.
It’s her favorite dress. Like in the universe.
I hope this note finds you well this fine Wednesday. Hopefully I’ve had a good day today so we can focus on this article/letter I’ve written. I started this thing last night…….. and so you know, I want to go on Facebook, but instead I’ve decided to say thank you for helping me understand myself a little more. You’ve given me an opportunity to safely confront my fears—my biggest fear being that I’ll die alone in some state hospital (yes, I tend to go overboard in the detail department and yes, my sheets are urine stained and it smells like feces). While I don’t think I’ve exactly overcome that fear, I think I’m getting to be much better at calming myself down and not taking that giant leap into a non-existent future………….. I go from 0 to 270 mph in a nano-second.
My fear of being alone, I suppose, stems from my growing up an only child—away from family, never really feeling like I belonged to a particular tribe, and now having one parent who is not a parent at all but a child, and another parent whose energy and efforts goes towards his sick wife—not his daughter. I know I’m being selfish about that, but sometimes I just miss my dad. I wish we could have lunch or just hang out, go to a movie. I don’t know.
So there are days when I just sit on my couch feeling very much alone. Other days, I wish I could go home…. well, to a home that doesn’t really exist anymore; a place where my mom and I could hang out or maybe the three of us go to dinner or lunch or whatever it is families do. My fear of dying alone and loneliness is something that shadows me. I think about it when I drive into work….. what if someone hits me. What will my dad do without me…… he doesn’t deserve that much loss. What if my plane crashes en route to Bangkok? What if I’m the last woman standing with no family to say goodbye to me as I take my last breath…………………………
Maybe I’m just numb to the idea of it trailing behind me. I have gotten better, but it’s still there.
You look at me and smile a very warm and comforting smile. You tell me in your soothing voice that where I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be. Thing is, I have no idea if I’ll truly accept the idea that where I am today is exactly where I am supposed to be. I do recite that line to myself and I have enjoyed more moments in the present (another concept or state of mind that often befuddles me) because of our gestalt talks. That sort of rhymes.
I like you Rose very much. I like that you push me to go to places in my personal history that cause me to lose my breath, to cry, to ponder, to question my actions, to hold myself accountable, to step up, to face reality—especially knowing that reality is not always my favorite place to visit. The present moment has always been a vexing place to visit……………………….
As a child, I would sit and stare out the window of my 3rd grade classroom Mrs. Toby would ramble about something silly—subtraction most likely, a skill that took me a while to get………… frankly, borrowing from the tens or hundreds is dumb—and I would stare at the field wishing that I could be taken away to another planet. Now that I’m here in Phoenix, I’m forced to live in reality. I think I like it so far. It’s strange. But perhaps it’s finally starting to suit me…………………………………
So, the point of this exercise is really to confront my other fear………………. ……… that I am a terrible writer. That I have no talent and anyone who may actually say something positive about my writing abilities is just being nice because they feel sorry for me.
Yep. I am really my own worst enemy because it prevents me from accomplishing the one thing I’d really LOVE to accomplish………………….. getting published in a national woman’s magazine. To share my story with the world beyond this blog.
So Rose, you wanted to see what I could write. I know I said I would write some attempt at a pitch letter to a national magazines—something that I do believe will give me great professional satisfaction should it actually get picked up (but there’s that voice inside my head going off)—but I’m not sure what the story is. Yes, my mom is the defining force in my life. The blog. My Demented Mom. The process of writing a blog to chronicle her disease/capture any memories that I might hopefully one day want to reflect upon? A changing dynamic—a tale as old as time: children who become parents and parents who spit on the floor at Target? What’s my story? I’m not even sure. I’m not even sure why a) I think I lack talent or b) I have to have that one national piece to justify my existence is a writer. The pitch letter. Ugh. Well here is how my process starts………….
And I freeze. Can’t get the words out. What do I want to say? Hand hurts. Better stop. Don’t want to injure self. Um…. well my mom is sick and I want to share my story. Because writing is good and using my words makes me feel better. She spits at church and I hate this disease. It sucks. And stuff. And like she one time pushed me down to run over to the priest. And she spits at Target. And in church and I over sanitize her hands I think with the hand sanitizer stuff. And she backwashed into the cup holding the blood of Christ. Wait, what was my point. My name is Kathy and my mom is one of 5 million Adults dying from dementia. It’s year 5 and this is my story…..
I’ll keep working on that pitch letter, Rose.
Here’s to getting past, “Um.”
Mother’s Day has come and gone. It wasn’t really that big a deal. The only thing that bugs me now is when people insist on wishing—and repeating over and over—her a Happy Mother’s Day. People: She does not know it’s Mother’s Day. She doesn’t care. I don’t care anymore. She does not understand you. She is more concerned about the priest. NOT YOU. Not your attempt to treat her like a normal, healthy person. Please stop imposing YOUR need to be comfortable on her. On us.
We went to church. A typical Sunday. She spit on the floor—at one point, I actually caught her spit before she was able to hack another one. Oh mom. Those moments are when I really feel like her parental unit—able to react before she does something inappropriate or if she simply needs something. It doesn’t really bother me anymore.
Maybe I’m just numb to things…maybe I just don’t care because it is what it is and there’s not a thing I can do about it.
TMI or “Too Much Information,” doesn’t carry much weight in my world. My mom touches herself when she has to go to the bathroom like a child…. it’s my cue to hurry her off to the loo before she has an accident. She tells me when she has to poop…. again, my cue to rush her of bathroom. She uses childish words like, “caca.”
It’s funny, but not really.
She throws her food on the floor to feed the begging cat. I ask her to eat her own food and to please not share with the fat cat. She ignores me and laughs. She misbehaves. She laughs at her own reflection, and then proceeds to cry like a little girl. I ask, “what’s so funny? Are you funny? You’re not that funny.”
I don’t understand TMI. On my personal Facebook page the other day, I posted something about pooping—most people responded with, “TMI.” Huh? TMI?
My mother’s life is made up of a random series of TMI moments strung together.
TMI? Are YOU uncomfortable? Why are YOU uncomfortable? What does it feel like?
I will not stop her from telling me when she has to go “caca”—what? The woman has to take a poop and I don’t need an accident. She spits. Fine. She pees with the door open—even in public (yes, I hold the door closed). Whatever.
TMI? Please. With this disease, there’s no such thing as TMI.
I wonder……………….. I wonder…………………. I wonder……………………………………………
A new development………. I’ve met a boy. Yes, a real boy who actually doesn’t care that my mom is demented. This has always been one of my greatest fears since leaving NYC: Meeting someone who would happily, openly, lovingly accept me and my family….. my mom. For every boy I’ve met over last year, there’s one thought that immediately consumes me—will he accept her? Will he accept this part of me? Will he still want to be with me after he meets the woman who physically pushed me over so she could get to her crush, the priest?
They’ve all failed….. I simply can’t picture it. I can’t picture these men coming over to my dad’s house, sitting there calmly as she spits on the living room floor.
I think this one can hang. I hope he can hang. He knows. I’ve warned him. Maybe I should have given him a more obvious OUT.
God, will he really accept her, the behaviors?
Would I…. if the roles were reversed? Would I smile sweetly? Pretend it doesn’t bother me?
You know, I don’t know what I would do. If this had never happened to her…………….. what would I be like today?
It is what it is I guess…
So when he meets her……………………………………………………………..
Will he smile when spits on the floor? Will he be patient when she points and laughs at someone because they’re overweight? Will he pat me on the back when she looks in the mirror and starts laughing uncontrollably? Will he accept that, unlike maybe his past relationships, I don’t have a typical relationship with my parents.
I, with my dad, am her keeper.
So,the new man in life is going to meet mom next week. He knows the idea of this big meeting is making incredibly nervous, mostly because I know what she’s going to say………..
Translated for those who can’t read dementia (otherwise insert the word fruita, gatos, pajaritos for every other word)………
“Do you speak Spanish?” Fair question.
“I don’t speak English.” She will likely say this in English as she always does.
“Are you going to get married?” Woman cuts to the chase fucking pronto!
“Are you going to have babies?” Jesus, mom!! Really?
“Are you going to take care of her?” I’m 32 for Christ’s sake. Minus the fact that I can’t figure out my budget and I’m over $40+ in my checking account, I’ve made it thus far just fine!
“Do you speak Spanish because I don’t speak English” Again, spoken in English.
My manfriend is very sweet and compassionate. I think he’ll do OK. I keep saying that. I can’t help it. The spitting for me is the worst part. Every single time she does it, it kills me…….. He knows she might hack one right next to him, but he says he understands, that it’s part of the disease and her behaviors are not who she is……… who are you, dude?
Still, there’s a part of me that’s scared. Not because my mom keeps pictures of my ex-husband (not my ex husband, but she can’t remember his name and that’s how she refers to my ex boyfriend) in the house—I’ve told dad to remove. ASAP—but because what if he decides it’s just too much. Too grotesque. The never-ending burden. She’ll only get worse. There is no happy ending. What if he says, listen…….. I just want a normal girl in my life…….
Normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Pretty. Sweet. Docile. A mom. A dad. Normal. Happy. Smiling. Laughing. Lunches. Pedicures. Normal. Normal. Normal. Normal. Scottsdale. Normal. Normal. Normal. Healthy. Normal. Normal.
I feel like damaged goods. Damaged in the sense that I know that my load is a heavy one. I don’t come with one piece of carry-on, I come with several pieces of luggage that are clearly way over the weight-limit.
I don’t know how this is going to unfold. I think he’ll be OK. I think I’ve met someone really great. Kind. Patient. Understanding. I’ll post an update. Meeting is slated for next week.
Turning the BIG 33 on Thursday. It’s been 5 years since we’ve known something was wrong. Here we are. Another chapter: Boy Meets Mom.
>>Photo from Flickr’s Creative Commons ECATONCHEIRES
I don’t know what it is or why, but I am having a terrible time coping with everything that has happened to me and my family. The last couple of years are maybe now finally hitting me… the move, the end of a six-and-half-year relationship, the disease. When I moved to Phoenix in January, I felt a tremendous amount of relief: I had done it. I was here and ready to help my parents get through this—I wanted to be the hero. I wanted to save my dad and give him peace. I wanted to protect my mom and find her the care that she deserved.
Nearly six months later, and I feel like a reactive child. I don’t know who I am. I feel insecure about my life-choices. I cannot say what I want or need to make me happy. I am a disappointment. I feel lost and utterly alone. I am ANGRY. My breaking point came Friday night. Nothing was satisfying me. Not 30 Rock, not a book, not the heat, nothing.
The only thing that came naturally to me were my tears… it was the first time in a very long time that I just balled.
I am finding it increasingly difficult to do anything. I don’t want to do anything. I am completely uninspired. Unfortunately, no one will rescue me. I am my own savior. Fuck. I can’t escape myself no matter how much I want to run away.
You know what’s wrong with you, Miss Whoever-you-are? You’re chicken, you’ve got no guts. You’re afraid to stick out your chin and say, “Okay, life’s a fact, people do fall in love, people do belong to each other, because that’s the only chance anybody’s got for real happiness.” You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing,” and you’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself. ~ Paul Varjack, Breakfast at Tiffany’s:
I keep running into myself no matter what I do. I need to be alone. I know it’s selfish and terrible, but I can’t do more for her (or anyone else) if I can get my head on straight.
I am tired.
I am angry.
My actions and inability to feel in control makes me want to puke in my mouth.
I hate not feeling in charge of my life.
I am being driven to the brink by a disease whose face resembles my own mom’s.
How do you reconcile that love and that hate?
Who is she?
I don’t remember much of my mom before her disease took over her mind and body. I have been asking friend’s to tell me who she is and what she was like. This is my new series: “Who Is She?”
Below, my girlfriend Chanette from high school (now a mom and wife) shares her memories of my the woman I call mom:
“I will always remember Kathy’s mom as the devoted Catholic who was sweet, soft spoken and cared for others. As teenagers I loved to go over to Kathy’s house because it was so different from the environment that I lived in. I had 5 brothers and sisters and never any “quiet” time. Going over to Kathy’s house was like going to Disneyland for me. I always envied that she was an only child who received her parents undivided attention, had her own room and all the “quiet time” that her little heart desired! Whenever I would be over at Kathy’s house studying or even just hanging out her mom would “stop by” wherever we were to see if we needed anything to drink or eat. Like any teenage daughter Kathy would grumble that we were fine and busy. Kathy’s mom seemed to take no offense to her teen daughter’s response and would come back by 15 minutes later to ask the same thing. I thought, “Wow, you are so lucky to have a mom who dotes on you like that.”
Not saying my mother was any less. The fact was that my mother had five other kids vying for her attention besides me and so no one got the doting that most only children receive. None the less, I was envious of Kathy at the time.
To me, Kathy’s parents were always so different in their personalities. Her father was more of the quiet, reserved type that I was always afraid of disturbing when I was in their home visiting. Whereas her mother just made you feel welcome from the time that you set foot into their home. She was a very open and warm hearted woman who made you feel comfortable. Always asking me how my family was and how school was going showed me how much she cared. My grandmother attends the same church as Kathy’s mother and was on the prayer line with her for several years. When I asked my grandmother what she remembered about Kathy’s mother the first thing she said was “she always had a smile on her face and was friendly to everyone she met.”
As I have grown into an adult I have learned to appreciate my large family for what they are and what they provide me with, a huge support system. Yes, I never had my own room growing up and yes, there was never a quiet moment in our house other than the middle of the night. But if my mother was diagnosed with dementia or any other disease I would not have to deal with it by myself. It saddens me to see Kathy going through this alone. She has no one else other than her father to share the heartache of losing her mother emotionally with, which I know is hard for her. Hopefully one day, Kathy will remember the wonderful woman that her mother once was and all of the good times that she shared with her.”