Not quite the plan

on finding my groove as a 30 something single girl and caregiver for mom with dementia


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Love is purple.

Mom’s memory is almost non existent these days.

So we stopped to admire the flowers on walking into the grocery store the other night. I suggested that Mom pick out a bunch. She absolutely loves flowers. I try to pick them up on occasion but it has been a little while.

Mom was delighted by the prospect of a bunch of flowers and began to look around. There were mums in various fall colors, and I pointed out a deep red since she loves red. She admired thr red roses for a monent. But Mom focused in on a purple bunch.

Purple is my sister’s favorite color and it’s one fact that Mom always remembers. When she sees purple, she always talks about my sister. The connection is deep.

So at Mom’s first chance in many months to pick out some flowers, she bought purple. Love, for Mom, comes in purple.

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Trust.

Mom and I have had various moments over the past couple of years. There was the time that she was upset with me, had a hallucination that I threw an animal in her face and spent a few days furious and hurt in a way that was impossible to address with logic.  There was the time that she was so suspicious of something that I had done that she refused to take her meds from me one night, which is not in Mom’s typical behavior and started a panic that it would become a pattern.

Though these incidents have been rare, it has often struck me that these kinds of incidents could worsen as her confusion increases. And they make me incredibly sad, especially that she does not always feel the level of care I have shown for her.

Lately we have not had moments like these.  Rather she has frequently expressed appreciation to me for things that I do, which is of course always lovely to hear.  But last night was a particularly interesting moment of this.  I had a really interrupted night of sleep – trouble falling asleep, waking up at 3am for no apparent reason. Some time after that, I woke to sounds of Mom walking down the hallway with its creaky old wooden floor. It does have the advantage of alerting me when Mom is up! Too tired too investigate, I hoped she would not get into any trouble. But the creaking continued to my room and I opened my eyes to a very upset Mom. She was terrified by some dream or hallucination.

We returned to her room and put her back to bed. After a few words of reassurance, she said to me, I trust you completely.Beautiful words from someone losing her grasp on reality in the frightening way that Mom is.


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Broccoli joy.

When I was growing up, Chinese food was our big culinary adventure.  And Chinese was Mom’s particular favorite. She always had a favorite Chinese restaurant and it would be her first choice when travelling and looking for something new.

Lately though, Mom has become the pickiest eater this side of 3 years old.

Over the past couple of years, she seems to have given up on eating anything that she does not consider delicious.  It’s an increasingly short list. Her diet this past year basically has consisted of cheese pizza, eggs, pancakes, simple pastas, orange juice and ice cream. Really, that is it! It’s incredibly boring diet and causes me ongoing worry about lack of nutrition.

Last night we ventured out to a local Chinese restaurant a few blocks from our house. Let’s be clear that none of our list of agreed upon foods can be found at a Chinese restaurant but I decided to give it a try.

We ordered a couple of dishes to share in the hope that Mom would eat something. First, she slurped down the egg drop soup and pronounced it excellent. Then she moved on to lo mein and then… drum roll… a serious pile of broccoli. I sat there, consumed with joy. It’s ridiculous I know, but seeing Mom eat her first vegetables in months was rather fabulous.

Then we came home and I found the leftover bag of Halloween candy, emptied.  Well, I guess if she is going to eat that much chocolate, at least there are vegetables to go along with it!


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Chasing Halloween.

I was delighted to realize in the middle of last week that my new house on a cute residential block of the city might actually get some trick or treating action.  Having mostly lived in city apartments, children in costumes rarely show up at my door.

Mom of course was delighted by Halloween. Chocolate and children are two of her favorite things! She started the day right by carving a rather attractive jack o lantern.

But the highlight was when the kids began to arrive. I have rarely seen Mom so happy. Every child that showed up got a rather significant handful of candy, and Mom usually concluded that it was still insufficient so went chasing after them to give them even more.

A few years ago, I could never have expected that I would one day be spending my Halloween chasing my mother down our street. And I definitely could not have predicted that doing so would be so much fun.