Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sun ups and sundowns

For Mother's Day, I bought my mom a paper hat.

Don't laugh (too much) -- it was actually a lovely, white, raffia sunhat, crocheted in singles and shell stitches with a floppy brim, ideal for avoiding sunburns while still letting a little light in. It's so cute! I even got one to match. The only thing is, we can't wear them in the rain or, you know, they'll... um... melt.

My parents and I spent a little more time at their place, then we went to visit the Wrinklies at the nursing home early in the afternoon, in case they were going to sundown. Grampa was asleep but we were very lucky to spend a little time with Gramma, who actually recognized us all this time, and smiled cheerfully, and was chatty, and was very, very verbal. I say "verbal" but the words weren't all there for us, although she did get out a few real ones. She was totally into the conversation, though -- her voice made inflections and used different intensities, without shouting. She was so happy today and her eyes were clear; not vacant at all or silently staring. I smiled at her, and yessed and hmmmed and ah-hah'd and made other appropriate sounds, and she looked at me the whole time.

We brought over some new clothes and a new pair of shoes as presents -- sweet little burgundy Mary Janes in a velvety material, size 6 (her feet sure have have increased in size in her old age!) When I lifted my foot to show her my shoes (much bigger, black Mary Janes), she smiled directly at me, and actually lifted her foot also to touch her toe to mine, of her own accord. My heart almost melted clear away.

For me, one of the worst things (besides the actual dementia, duh) are her hands. She always had such beautiful nails, and they were always strong, perfect ovals, painted in peaches and corals or shimmery caramels and coppery colors. But scratching is part of the dementia, and she can't help it. So the aides have cut her nails short (not past her fingertips) and someone painted them a cheap-looking pinky-red. Pinky-red!? Gramma would never have worn this color. I felt so indignant when I saw it, but now I am thankful that someone is manicuring her nails at all. She has no more scrapes or lacerations on her arms, which is good.

My parents and I stayed as long as we could before we all started to dissolve. then kissed and hugged Gramma gently and took off. We had to compose ourselves in the car before we drove off.

My mom said the only saving grace is that Gramma has no idea what has happened to her, unlike Grampa. And she's right.

I hate it. I miss them so much -- and even if I tell them a hundred thousand times, they'll never be able to understand what I mean. I hate that, and I hate feeling helpless like this, and I hate Alzheimer's, and I hate Parkinson's.

I feel like the only thing I can do to make things better is to make sure my parents know how much I love them. I'm so lucky to have them, and that they are who they are. Sharing more love won't help my grandparents at this point, but it does help me, at least a little.

Happy Mother's Day.


Don said...

My great-grandfather went that way, and it was unbelievably hard on everyone. Actually, my dad reports that his grandfather at the end was reliving the 1890s, so maybe it wasn't all bad. In any case, everyone since then has managed to take a swift exit.

The Clever Cat said...

Thank you, Don. And thank goodness for swift exits! I guess we'll never know if she switches decades, though. My dad did mention that she's about the size she was when she got married, about 80 pounds or so (she was a seamstress, but also modeled for the buyers) so at least I can picture her in a different decade... :^)