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  •  Sometimes she was Mom; sometimes a toddler of 94. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bhlogger, kyril

    Mom labradog's last 4 years were spent bedridden, with increasing senile dementia.

    I had to accept the vagaries of her behavior just as I would with a three year old, treating what became commonplace as just that, an ordinary chore. The cognitive weakness that she developed could be a good thing, as we could distract her more easily with conversation.

    Eventually she sensed on some level that, even though she didn't understand why things were as they were, we were benevolent presences looking out for her. She always knew who Mrs.labradog and I were, although sometimes she thought that the little red headed boy labradog she remembered, and I, were two different people. Luckily, she usually seemed charmed to realize that I was that same person as that little boy.

    We aren't wealthy, but we kept Mom at home. We doggedly hunted down care givers through personal connections, and we ended up hiring some of those $9/hour health aides, who were glad to earn $10 or more an hour, and have only our little old lady to watch over, instead of a ward full. They were blue-collar, working poor/lower middle class people. They were a bunch of diamonds in the rough, those gals. They were a hard-partying bunch, with sometimes untidy lives, and one or two had more than passing acquaintance with the sheriff. But they looked after Mom, even in her craziest moments, with patience and affection. We called our team Tender Loving Crazy Biker Home Health Care.

    You should have seen the crew Christmas party. Everyone in Mom's living room/bedroom, swapping gifts, all the husbands and squeezes were there - welder, tree trimmer, small engine mechanic, unemployed - and Mom in the middle, eating Christmas treats and sipping whatever was passed to her, eggnog from one of the girls, Chambord liqueur from me, Jack Daniels Black from the welder. Mom had a broad palate.

    Some people we know have complimented me for the care Mom got in her last years, but let me settle that once and for all: If there were any haloes on our hatrack, they belonged to those gals.

    Through a lot of effort and engagement and occasional misdirection, Mom remained essentially content for the rest of her days. Not to say there weren't outbursts of anger, and even a faintly thrown nonagenarian's punch, but the norm was contentment. Even when the memory fails, even when understanding weakens and fades, that day-to-day contentment is real.

    Her intellect ebbed and flowed, but never entirely vanished. One time we were getting her ready for bed, cleaning her up and changing her diaper, checking her skin, and applying some lotion. The TV was on as usual, and was showing Casablanca. Mom spoke four languages, and Mrs.labradog and I asked her about the words to La Marseillaise. She knew them in English and French, of course. Mom remembered, from her RAF days, hearing the BBC play the national anthems of nations which were not yet, or no longer, under Nazi occupation.

    Even in the days of dementia, incontinence, and being  bedridden, there are bright, lovely moments in life, and that was one of them, as we stood around her bed, Mom, Mrs.labradog, and I, singing La Marseillaise with the expats in Rick's cafe'.

    I'm the plowman in the valley - with my face full of mud

    by labradog on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 06:30:39 AM PDT

    •  That's a beautiful sotry, labradog (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      Thanks for sharing it.

      Your mom sounds like someone I would have enjoyed meeting and talking to. :)

      "What luck for the rulers that men do not think." - Adolph Hitler

      by bhlogger on Fri Mar 25, 2011 at 07:07:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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