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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Life with Alzheimer's...Part Three...

Mom and Dad could no longer live alone, yet they did not want help. Mom's idea of a solution was to move to an assisted living facility, but Daddy wouldn't budge from his house. He knew in his heart they needed Steve and Chrys to move in with them, but it wasn't an easy pill to swallow for a very independent, very private man. Mom was never happy with this plan and she has since let everyone know it, many times.

Steve and Chrys arrived, bringing a sense of relief to the rest of the family. To know that my parents would be well taken care of in their last years is truly a gift I can never repay to my brother and sister-in-law. Mom and Dad now ate regular, healthy meals instead of cereal and soups. The house and yard were taken care of after years of neglect. Doctor's appointments and medications were monitored. Sounds like all is well, right?

Wrong.

Mom resented every minute Steve and Chrys lived in "her" house. She resented them taking over "her" kitchen. She even resented them taking over "her" cat, because Steve was feeding it and making sure it had a warm place to stay during the winter months. When Mom continually became lost while driving in town and we knew she shouldn't drive anymore, she blamed Steve. Everything was Steve's fault in Mom's view and she let him know it.

I'll never forget the day I witnessed Mom's anger first-hand. We were visiting for a week during the summer. Steve and Chrys were out grocery shopping. I walked into the kitchen and found Mom sitting at the breakfast table, looking really mad.

"What's wrong, Mom?"

She looked up at me and I saw something in my mother's eyes I'd never seen before.

Hatred. Real, pure hatred.

"THEM!" she spat. "They're taking over everything! This is MY house and I want them to leave. I hate them!"

Steve had told me about her anger and some of the things she'd said to him, but I hadn't seen it for myself yet. I sat down with her, my heart heavy. I tried to reason with her for the next thirty minutes. I later realized you can't reason with a person with Alzheimer's Disease. There is no reason there anymore. It was difficult and painful to see my mother like this. She was a complete stranger in those minutes. I tried to calm her down, but her anger only grew. I talked of Jesus and how he wouldn't want her to hate her own son, but she ignored me and continued to rant. I began to cry, but she didn't seem to care.

It was in that moment that I finally accepted what I'd fought against for nearly three years.

The mother I'd known all my life was gone.

(Continued next time)

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