Sunday, November 6, 2016

Falling Back, Looking Ahead

Photo Source: Deb Campbell Photography
Fall kind of snuck up on us this year. The weather, even for this region, remained stubbornly summer-like well into October. But now, finally, the trees have begun shedding their leaves in earnest, and there is frost on the neighborhood lawns this morning. I'll have to remember to grab a jacket when I head out for work tomorrow morning, to my still-new job that this fortune cookie foretold. 

The new job is a welcome development. I'm still at the same university, but in a department that seems vastly more grounded in the day to day business of helping students achieve their goals, and am free of the drama and dysfunction and denial that made going to my former job such a chore. I am working a lot harder, but also getting paid a lot more, so all in all life is good between the hours of 8am and 5pm. 

But Fall isn't the only thing that snuck up on us. When I wrote my last post about my mother's increasingly unreliable memory, I wasn't prepared for how rapidly and severely her memory loss would progress. In fact, the neurologist said, let's stop referring to this as a memory problem and recognize it as Alzheimer's. To which Mom, always ready to deflect what she doesn't want to hear, said "No, I won't have that." She saw my step-father virtually disappear from that disease, so I can only imagine how terrifying it must be for her, if she allows herself to think about it. I'm not sure she does think about it, though....

It seems strange to say that this disease snuck up on us, since I have been living under the same roof as Mom for the past 12 years. But, being the stubbornly independent women that we both are, we have been doing a good job of living our lives as we damn well please for the most part. Mom had given up driving 2 years ago when her chronic pain condition made her afraid to drive, but other than when she was recovering from a broken wrist and then from pneumonia last year, she gave the impression that she had everything under control and let us know that she was just too lazy to be bothered with certain things. 

Now, though, as I try to organize the physical clutter that has accumulated around my Mom so that she can better negotiate her mental clutter, I am seeing signs that she has been trying to compensate for lots of things for a long time. It felt somehow disloyal to attribute some of her odd behaviors over the past couple of years to anything other than the eccentricities one might be entitled to as they age. And when the elder in question already has a lifelong tendency toward the unconventional and non-conformist, it's even harder to tell when they're just being themself or when something isn't firing properly in their cranium.

So, I admit that it is pretty damn scary to look ahead. However, I am embarking on this new "journey" with open eyes and an open heart. I remind my mother that I understand that what is going on with her mind is something she can't help, and I remind her again. I'm touched that she trusts me to do what is in her best interest, even as we try to work out what exactly that is. 

Fall is finally here, yes, but it won't last forever. I am not going to take a single one of these bright, clear, sunny days for granted. Metaphorically, or meteorologically.   


  1. When was it the "golden" was taken from the golden years?

    It seems that in this age everything good has to be tempered by the fire of something that counters it. There is no getting ahead of anything, at best staying even is all we can expect.

    I would that you find wisdom and balance Denise as you assist your mom. It is a hard diagnosis, but the path can still have warm breezes and kind scents upon it.

  2. I am so glad to hear of you new career path. You deserve it.

    My ex-wife suffered from Dementia during the last years of her life. We remained good friends after our divorce years ago, and stayed in touch. It was very difficult to get a phone call from her and realize that her once brilliant mind was suffering being eaten away. She eventually died from heart problems, but the dementia had taken fast hold by that time. Sometimes Dementia is caused by Alzheimer's, so they are related in that sense. I can't imagine having to live with someone you are close to with either of this problems. I truly feel for you and your mother, Denise.

  3. My best to you and your mother. Living day to day is all we can do. It is good that you still have some quality time to spend with your mother. My thoughts with you
    the Ol'Buzzard

  4. Really glad to hear about your new job, but so sorry to hear about your mother. My mom passed away when she was only 51, so I never got to experience the horrible tragedy of her slowly losing her mind.

    Fall is my favorite season, so I'm feeling much better as of late. Wishing you much good luck w/your mom and new job: And please post more to keep us up to date!


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