Tuesday, January 20, 2009

the pilgrimage home

Back from the pilgrimage to my parents house....224 miles, 3:45 minutes, $7.00 toll road. It was a nice visit and yet so sad all the same.

My mother suffered the first of several strokes about two years ago. The doctors gave a prognosis that she wouldn't recover beyond how she was at that time....stable physically, but mentally scrambled. She DID recover...somewhat. But that with the age factor, the onset of Alzheimer's and another stroke has left her pretty weak and feeble. Her eyes have that glassy, cloudy look that older people have....and twice during my visit, she thanked me for my help and then asked what my name was.

She's the sweetest woman on earth. She was a well respected Home-Economics teacher for the Toledo school system for 40 years. People love my mom. She's quiet, smart, independent and quite a remarkable woman. She's very modest, caring and loving yet strong as nails. To see her in this position of being dependant and put into situations that would have embarrassed her breaks my heart.

Alzheimer's is a strange thing. Some days my mother can recall events that happened 20 years ago and tell you details like what she had on or who all was there. Other times, it's a blank. When we were having dinner we set the table with some place mats that had some recipes on them for cream cheese deserts. So here's this place mat with all these pictures of pies and cakes on them and as we're eating my mom keeps taking her fork from the real plate of food and is trying to scoop up some of the cheesecake! We finally just took it away as it was too distracting.

Things have a funny way of disappearing and reappearing at my parents house. I have 'my' room there that is equipped with all the duplicate personal belongings that I need so I don't have to bring everything with me each time I visit. I have all the toiletries one would need; shampoo, conditioner, robe, soap, razors, Q-tips, hairdryer, curling iron and make-up stuff...you get the idea. So I'm there at my parents house...in my room and go to take a shower. First off; my robes gone. I look around for it. Where could it possibly be? Can't find it anywhere. My hairdryer is there, but my curling iron is not. The Q-tips are there, but my make-up is gone. So I ask about it..."where's my stuff?" Blank faces. My parents have no idea.

Last year for my mom's birthday we got her a new pair of Reebok walking shoes. Then they disappeared. I found them while looking for my robe. They were in the spare bathroom under some towels in the linen closet. Funny place for shoes. Not in the original box but in a Oatmeal box....slightly odd. I wonder if the Oatmeal is in the Reebok shoe box somewhere.

I went to make breakfast and couldn't find the toaster, or the can opener. The toaster was downstairs in my dad's utility room on the shelf next to the drill bits. The can opener is still missing.

I bought my mom several pairs of new slacks. 10 pairs! That way they don't have to worry about laundry that often. There's only 2 pairs in her closet and I couldn't find any in the laundry or laundry basket. I looked around for those....haven't a clue. Missing. Gone. I'm sure they'll turn up on my next visit in the garage or somewhere. I found the skillet in the freezer and the crisper drawer in a cabinet under the stove.

I'm learning that each day is a new adventure at their house. I didn't have a lot of sympathy for my dad caring for my mom early on. I thought he was being whiny. My mom always took care of everything and I figured it was now his turn to give back. My dad never had to really do much but show up. I can see that this has been draining on him as he's learning a new skill pretty late in life. After my stay this last time....I give him some credit. It's a hard road; being the caretaker. I hope there's someone that will watch over me if the time comes....maybe they'll find my robe.

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