Not quite the plan

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


Ice cream dance.

A few years ago, in the midst of one of the hardest few weeks my Mom ever lived through, she and I went to the grocery store.  She told me on the way there that she needed to buy her favorite kind of ice cream.

Let’s be clear how hard this time was.  Mom had lost her husband of more than 40 years, her best friend and life partner.  He had gone off to work and hours later she was flying up the freeway to the hospital to discover that he was already dead of a heart attack.  In that moment Mom lost her sense of security in life, and for a woman managing dementia, that is no small thing.  Everything about Mom’s life changed in the moment.  She had been a non-functional mess– understandably.

So we find ourselves in the grocery store and for the first moment in a few weeks, Mom looked actually happy as we headed over to find her favorite ice cream.  She was in fact so happy that she started to do a little ice cream dance with funny swinging arms right there in front of the grocery store freezer.   It was lovely, especially since Mom has always been a self conscious dancer.

Now, Mom will do an ice cream dance any time I suggest it and sometimes just spontaneously.  (Of course, actual ice cream has to be on hand to inspire the dance.)  Every time it makes me smile.  It reminds me how we can all find something to celebrate even in the hardest of times.  All of us have our version of an ice cream dance inside.



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Just a couple of drunk girls.

Mom has always had a good sense of humor and the dementia has made jokes one of the primary ways that she relates to me.  We have a set of running jokes around the house, her favorite probably being her alcoholic daughter — moi.  Mom is a non-drinker.  I am nowhere near having an alcohol problem but it’s a well established joke now.  When I pick up a bottle of wine at the store, we kid about how quickly I will drink it.  Even better is if I buy a couple of bottles because then the fact that I am going to drink it all in 10 minutes is even more hilarious.  In Mom’s mind, there are virtually unlimited opportunities to make jokes about my excessive alcohol consumption.

To be fair, sometimes I think the wine talk is partly her recognition of the stress that I do have and an acknowledgement that I need to relax more.  Mom seems to really enjoy filling up my wine glass, usually far more than the splash that I tend to drink with dinner.  It’s sweet, especially when she runs off to find the bottle and pour it for me.  She does no meal preparation for herself and tends to be quite happy for me to cook, bake, set the table, and serve everything directly to her.  But then she will get up to pour me some wine.  

Lately though, the joke has taken a new turn.  Mom has started complaining to me that she feels drunk herself first thing in the morning.  I interpret this as her way of explaining the fogginess in her brain but it is somehow creating a bonding moment for us.  I get to joke that we are both stumbling around drunk.  Neither of us have been drinking a bit that time of day, but the joke works for us.

And in a weird way it’s true.  Both of us are a bit out of our element in life right now and making all sorts of mistakes.  I guess we are just a couple of drunk girls, living in an apartment in the city.

With this in mind, I tell her that she is a fun roommate. She laughs.