Some times, I feel like the worst daughter on the planet, and the worst sister.
Other times, I'm realistic about it. My sisters' kids are all grown up and mostly married with kids of their own, or at least independent. I still have teenagers at home, and though one will be starting college soon, the other still needs a lot of time and attention. I remember very well what it was like to have my mother caring for an elderly relative and babysitting a grandchild. Something had to give, and a lot of times, that thing was me. I won't do that to my son.
Every once in a while, though, it'll hit me, and hit me hard. Talking with my mom is an exercise in patience, because her short term memory is non-existent, so she forgets what she's talking about in the middle of a sentence sometimes. Her memories are compressed, so now, instead of my sisters growing up in the fifties and being teenagers when I was arrived as a surprise, now, we all grew up together and are only a few years apart. Then she sees my kids and corrects, but I can tell it bothers her and she can't reconcile it in her mind. That frustrates her and makes her unreasonably angry.
Well, actually, she does have a reason. She knows something is wrong with her memory, but she's not sure what it is. It frustrates her. And it scares her.
Flaky Sister has told me about times that Mom has attacked her or acted out with her, and I've tried to point out that it isn't personal, because it isn't. Mom will be furious with her and sulk... and three minutes later, she's completely forgotten about it. But Flaky Sister, who still has not dealt with her childhood the way the Blonde Sister and I have, can only see Mom through the lens of those years. So everything Mom does is deliberate and personal.
This worries me.
For now, though, there is nothing we can do about it.
This can't go on, though. We're going to have to put Mom in a home. She is already starting to exceed the Flaky Sister's abilities to take care of her. At first, Flaky wanted me to take Mom and put her in a home here, but I find the fact that our doctor refused to give me any kind of clues about what the home was like to be... ominous, and further research convinced me it wasn't exactly the best place for her. Plus, they don't handle Alzheimer's patients. This fact was confirmed for me when pleas went up on our local discussion board for places that do handle Alz. patients when the local home refused to deal with several patients who had reached the combative stage of their illness and wanted them placed elsewhere.
I have taken Mom for weekends, and I've told my sisters that three days is about my limit (they always want four or five). Three days is my limit, because I can't deal with the demand of taking care of my mom and my kids, and deal with my own issues.
Which my sisters conveniently forget, mostly because they don't see me all that much anymore.
I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease, and while at first, it just made me really tired all the time, now if I get a little virus or infection, it's like getting slammed with a brick wall. Seriously. Christmas 2013, we got the flu. My husband was up and about in two to three weeks. Me? I was down for nearly six months! I got over it and started getting better, and thought, well, I'm back to normal now, okay, yay, life!
Then I got a flu shot. And had an infection in my gums.
I'm still recovering.
It's like my immune system has turned into this hyper overprotective mother who has to completely overdo things and then turns around and punches my thyroid for reasons.
Where my mom is concerned, you have to be completely on your game. Seriously, her memory may be spotty, but that woman was sharp in her prime, and she still has her moments. The only difference is now, when she's angrily laying down the law or ranting about something, I can nod, and then say, "Look, Mom, DUCKS!" and it completely derails her.
It helps that we actually have ducks.
I once sat and watched I Was A Male War Bride on Netflix with her four times in a row. Why? Because every time the movie ended and the screen returned to the title page, she'd get excited and say, "Oh, let's watch this one! I've never seen this one before!"
The first two times, I tried to remind her we'd just watched it, but she had no memory of it, and I'd gamely start it back up again. After the fourth time, my daughter took pity on me and distracted Grandma with her art.
Oh, and I can't leave her sight. She'll look for me, so this makes going to the bathroom tricky. She's a fall risk now, and my sisters would absolutely kill me if Mom fell while in my custody and broke herself.
So my limit is three days. Three days on a weekend, because let's face it, we have to tag-team Mom. So that means two adults and two teenagers, plus three cats and three ducks, to manage one little old frail 87 year old woman who may not have her memory, but still has no trouble getting in trouble.
I still, however, am determined to find a group of willing bikers for a prank photo op. I want to take a photo of my mom astride a Harley, or some similar huge machine, with a big burly biker sitting behind her, grinning, and the rest of the gang around them, grinning. I want her hands on the handlebars, and maybe a bandanna around her forehead. Maybe a leather jacket on, too. And I'll send it to the Flaky Sister. And wait for the incipient heart attack.
That should pay her back for the four and a half days she left Mom with me nicely!
No, I'm not vindictive at all!