A non-update update

I feel like I need to update things on mom but really there’s not much to say.

She’s off Diet Coke. She’s eating more watermelon than ice cream. She’s getting some exercise most days. She’s out of her mind.

You wouldn’t know her diet is good and that she’s getting some exercise the way she thinks and acts. Her memory is awful, and she knows it. It frustrates her and she doesn’t like it.

There are times now when she thinks I’m my sister. I actually had to answer to my sister’s name the other day. Now she just makes remarks about how I’m here on vacation but have to go out and do the chores. Ha! Some vacation. And my sister doesn’t do chores when she’s here. (Not that I expect her to. I certainly don’t.)

I’ve been doing a lot of work outside lately. When I go out in the evenings after dinner she gets anxious because she thinks she’s alone. She’s so glad to see me when I come in, as if we haven’t just spent the entire day together except when I’m out doing yard work. She forgets that I’ve told her I’ll be outside. Or that I’m off to walk the dog around the block. She thinks she’s been abandoned.

There are also the phantom people that are here all day, or in and out all day, but who “just disappear!”. None of these people ever say goodbye. The nerve of them! I’m still wishing they’d help out with some of the chores.

Early on in my membership in online support groups I read of caregivers feeling lonely, and what a lonely thing it is to be a caregiver. Friends and family members abandon you, that’s true, but that’s not the loneliness they’re talking about. I’ve been feeling it more acutely as her deterioration progresses. It’s the loneliness of not being able to share.

A couple of days ago I learned that a neighbor died of COVID. It’s one of those things that strikes like a blow. I didn’t know the woman, but I’d had a conversation with her husband once. I’d seen them riding bikes and walking the dog. She was only 47, so young compared to some who have died. Never smoked a day in her life but required a double lung transplant. She died before she could get it. She had a teenage son. Now her husband is home alone because his wife is dead and his stepson has moved in with his dad. It’s the kind of situation that pulls on the heartstrings, you know? It’s a heavy load not to share, and yet, how could I confuse mom more by telling her news about strangers? That’s the loneliness others talk about in the support group. Not being able to share your life, to share news, to talk about things with your loved one. They won’t remember. They won’t know who you’re talking about. They won’t be able to put the information together in a way they can understand. Confusion, memory loss, and an inability to process context makes sharing with your loved one an exercise in frustration and futility. So did I keep this information to myself or did I share with mom? That’s the question I grappled with while I walked my dog around the block. Ultimately I shared. It was too heavy and emotional burden to keep to myself.

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