Well, much time has passed since I last posted here. It’s been a blur of taking more time for myself including several trips, reinitiating my relationship with Nothusband, and job hunting for a new role. Suddenly, though I find myself facing the complicated question of what to do about Christmas for Mom. And for me.
Thanksgiving was both easy and hard. It was hard to accept that holidays are simply going to look different from here on out. But it was easy to find a way to be together. Sis, Nothusband and I cooked and brought her a plate of food and a bunch of fall flowers. I bundled Mom up for a walk together.
But Christmas is a whole other story. Just four years ago, Mom would decorate a house full of Christmas trees, throw a couple of parties, shop for towers of Christmas gifts and do enough baking to give most of her acquaintances a box of cookies. She loves Christmas.
So the other night after work, Sis and I trekked up to the facility with an artificial tree, nonbreakable ornaments, and a box of other decorations. It was a happy evening though I could not help but feel the difference for Mom as I hung every ornament on her tree. But Mom was delighted. I think of her comment to me years ago, when I asked why she put so much work into Christmas decorations.
“When I am near a Christmas tree, I am happy.”
I was of course nervous for my first visit to Mom at the facility. She had been so reluctant walking in and had always expressed opposition to the inevitable move.
But I was pleasantly surprised. Mom was in a good mood. We sat together and chatted in our usual way of some sense and some nonsense. And then, out of the blue, Mom corrected my grammar in her best imperious schoolteacher tone.
And suddenly all felt right with the world. Mom was herself, we were connecting and we were both okay.
It amazes me these glimpses of Mom as she always was. She is still herself underneath all the messiness in her brain.
But to update, now it has been a couple of weeks and things are good. Mom has some particular buddies at the facility. She knows which room is hers. And one tired daughter gets to go out at night again!
Am I on Life Plan C at this point, or D or perhaps P? I am not sure how many times I have revised my hopes and expectations in caring for Mom.
But the other night was a hard conversation. Sis and I agreed that it is time to put Mom in a home. The only good reason to keep her out at this point is to wait longer until facing what will be a huge monthly bill from now until the end of her life. But given how quickly she has gone downhill, that may not end up mattering. We can pay for a facility for the foreseeable future.
But, Mom increasingly is overwhelmed by life at home, a household full of things to be moved around and hidden away. I worry about her getting into things she should leave alone. And we simply cannot watch her all the time. She gets up in the night or early morning and wanders the house.
And, it is time to start carving out a bit more of a life for me. I have thrilling fantasies of going to the gym after work, being able to leave for work without worrying if the caregiver is here yet, and perhaps having a friend over for dinner without interruption. Wild, right?
Suddenly it has been two and a half years in which my life has been dominated by caregiving. Where did that time go? I am mystified by all I used to do and how little seems to fit into my life now after the meds are dosed, we spend a little time together and Mom is fed and put to bed.
So it is time for a new plan, where she gets a higher level of care and I reclaim a corner of my own life. Plan Q, here we come!