We have been Down South, on the hop, to visit my Mum.
We try to visit once a month now that we are only 125 miles away instead of 250, but our last two visits had seen her in bed as she hasn’t been well at all.
We set off early, but had a horrendous journey due to not one, but THREE road closures on our normal route, and diversions not only added miles but considerable time and it was almost four hours before we arrived.
Mum was up and sitting in her chair by the window. It was a lovely sight, she looked so well, with rosy cheeks and a big smile when we walked down the path.
My sister offered us a sandwich and cup of tea for lunch as she was going out for the afternoon, so we had Mum to ourselves for a couple of hours.
It doesn’t sound a lot of time does it, but Mum gets tired easily, and conversation can be difficult as her memory isn’t what it was and she forgets things in seconds.
Dementia is distressing and difficult for everyone concerned.
With the best will and intentions in the world, there is an overwhelming sense of loss, inadequacy, sorrow and guilt.
Immediate family and carers grow frustrated, tired, short-tempered, impatient and terse, for visitors like us we see either good days or bad days for short periods, and for the patient themselves it’s confusing and anxious, then embarrassed and angry with themselves at being forgetful.
From what we have read and seen, Mum is more likely to remember events from 30 odd years ago than what she had for breakfast or dinner the previous day, so in my letters, I now refer to something from the past to trigger a happy memory for her.
When talking about the boat and life here on the marina, I add some photographs. When the new ducklings start to arrive, I can do the same and refer back to the holidays she had with us in Lincolnshire. I’d like to think that something visual is more likely to stay with her for a while than just words on paper.
She knew I was her baby, but couldn’t remember my age or my exact birthday, but she knew it was in the same month as hers and that she would be 93 this year.
We talked about other family members, my nephew had been to visit (this is probably from about 3 or 4 years ago as she’s said he’d only visited once), my ex sister-in-law, and of course the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She looked wistful as we talked about my Dad, that last day in the hospital as he left us, she holding his right hand and me his left, and was surprised that it is almost 19 years ago since he passed away.
Rather than stay too long and overtire her, we thought it best to leave ‘on a high’, knowing that she would contentedly doze in her chair in the sunshine until my sister got back.
Our card for Mothers Day (this Sunday, the 15th, which would also have been my Dad’s birthday) had arrived safely and was on the mantlepiece.
Whether she will remember our visit though we don’t know, but perhaps the bunch of roses we took down for her will remind her.