These past six months have been a whirlwind of learning, frustration and loss. I learned my mother has dementia and she has rapidly declined in her mental capacity. I decided I needed to educate myself on the disease since no one involved in her care is helping me understand this disease.
I picked up a book, “Inside the Dementia Epidemic: A Daughter’s Memoir” written by Martha Stettinius. I hesitated to read it at first, wondering what nightmarish tales was within the covers. But, I read it and I read it quickly. I found myself identifying with Stettinius’s in so many ways. The book was educational and I finished the book feeling like I wasn’t as alone as I perceived.
This brings me to my most recent conversations with my mother. In two of the latest conversations I had with her she did not know who I was. She thought I was her cousin, even though I corrected her. She spoke to me only in Armenian both those times, since this is her native language. It was hard to take but I played along. I had lost my mother for the first time. I would loose her again at her death. The hardest part is not having anyone in my life I felt like I could share this with. Being vulnerable is the hardest trait for me to express.
What I learned from those conversations was my mother forgot my brother died three years ago. She also forgot my father died over a year ago. My mother said to ‘her cousin’ neither my brother nor me had been to visit. I saw no sense in opening old wounds so I offered the excuse, “Maybe they are busy.” She said we weren’t we were just away at school and did not have anyone to bring us to the rehab center. My brother and I had never gone away to school so I don’t know why she thought this. It made me wonder how old she thought I was.
This past weeks conversation was different. This time she called me by name and spoke English to me. It was a happy semi-lucid conversation. At one point she again forgot she was talking to me so I asked her how old I was. She said, “35”. Good for me! I lost 12 years in that conversation. I corrected her then asked how old she thought my brother was. She said he must be 40. I told her no her was 49. (The age he would have been in July) She was surprised then said, “Oh, I’m getting old!” We laughed. I had not heard my mother laugh in months. She then complained that the facility kept moving her from one place to another. They have not, but again, I didn’t see the need for a correction. I asked why they kept moving her. She said she did not know. I said to her, “Maybe you are in the witness protection program.” She asked me what that was. I told her they were trying to hide her because they thought she might be a spy. She laughed and said, “Well they are just stupid”. We both laughed. Yes, it was at their expense but she deserved some joy in these years of misery. She now waits for my Dad to come and tell her what is going on with her situation. It will be a long wait but I’m not going to tell her he’s not coming. I will continue to lie.
I am an aspiring writer that is working as a Deputy Sheriff. I have been in law enforcement for fifteen years. I have five left to go before I can retired and follow my heart desires. My plan is to change people misconceptions and prejudices towards the dogs that are perceived as aggressive or broken in some way. I have five of my own dogs, all with some kind of issue themselves. I hope to continue to rescue dogs and give or get them the homes they all deserve.