Journey Through Dementia

Journey Through Dementia

Monday, May 27, 2013


That's "thank God it's Saturday."  If it's Saturday, it means GRANDMA IS MOVED!!!!!!!!!

It was not exactly easy and there are many rough patches ahead, but when we dragged ourselves out of the new apartment, leaving my mother looking like death warmed over and feeling like that ourselves, the house looked good, she seemed satisfied, and we had so many people to thank for making it all work as well as it did.

My cousin Niecie took her for a long drive out to West Marin to see wildflowers, the ocean, and have a nice oyster lunch.  That gave Walt and me time to get in and do some packing.  Jeri last week and my mother's stepdaughter Ellen the week before had been working with her, but she had been resisting doing actual packing and though they did get a lot done, they didn't do nearly was much as they wanted to do because she was so resistant.

With her gone,  Walt and I filled box after box, emptying all the drawers of all the pieces of furniture that were coming up here, and moving all the boxes staying into one room and boxes going into another. Walt worked his tail off while I was on the phone canceling her 2 newspapers subscriptions and her Comcast (which is also her telephone service).  That always sounds easier than it turns out to be.  It probably took me half an hour to get that done, during which time Walt had packed a dozen boxes or more.

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The first battle was over shoes.  My mother LOVES shoes, and working in a thrift store for 20 years, she was able to buy lots and lots and lots of shoes for not very much money (though the idea of wearing used shoes makes my skin crawl, she loves it)  But there are shoes in the collection of >50 pairs that still have the sales tag on them and shoes she will never wear again (high heels).  I don't know if it was Jeri or Ellen, but someone got her to separate out the shoes that were going to Davis and the shoes that were going back to the thrift shop.  There were two boxes, one marked "shoes for Hodge Podge" and one marked "shoes for Davis." 

Well, she went ballistic when she saw the two boxes.  WHO made that decision. SHE had never been asked. She was going to have to go through both boxes again. She insisted that she was NEVER consulted on the decision and was afraid the wrong shoes would go to the wrong place.  When she calmed down, I moved one box into the "stay" room and into the "go" room and she seemed to forget about it, though she did remember after we got to Davis, but the fire had gone out of her protestations by that time.

She also got furious when she was told (not for the first time) that she would not be able to have her oven hooked up or bring her microwave.  She asked (not for the first time) why not.  I explained (not for the first time) that her doctor had given her the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (good thing she didn't know that the first diagnosis was dementia!) and the place does not permit machines which might accidentally be misused and cause a fire. She was angry and embarrassed, but couldn't fight it--it was her doctor's diagnosis.  She was highly indignant and said her doctor never even tested her, but she doesn't remember that she has tested her a couple of times. So hard for her...

Another battle was over the "stuff" left behind.  The watchword for the weekend was "I'm so glad we can take our time going through all this stuff.  We don't have to decide everything today."  But by that, it turned out, she meant that we would move all of her things to Davis and then tomorrow we would go back for another few days and finish cleaning up the house.  I told her absolutely not.  She was going to stay in Davis for a week.  A WEEK???   She couldn't possibly wait that long.  She wanted to go back right away.   

I finally solved that problem by pointing out that we had both been under such pressure for so long that we deserved a week off, that she could take six months, if she wanted, to clean everything up, if she didn't mind paying an extra   $6,000 rent to do it.  That took the wind out of that particular sail.   Even moreso because I left a lot of boxes to be unpacked and things arranged the way she wants them in her apartment.  She wants to take her time and do it right and obviously if she is getting her apartment in order, she can't be cleaning up her mobile home 70 miles away.

I discovered that she doesn't so much want to just give things to Hodge Podge, but she wants to give them to specific people.  The kitchen counter was filled with things like half used packages of birthday candles, paper coasters so old they had lost their color, rusty tape measures, lots of pencils and other detritus that she doesn't want to throw away, or even to give away to HodgePodge because she wants someone she knows to want all this crap.  I can't seem to make her understand that everybody she knows has been offered stuff and they all suffer from the same syndrome:  too much stuff, and nobody has any desire to add more stuff.

We went out to dinner and then Walt went home.  I would follow the next day driving my mother's car, which we would then keep. Well, THAT wasn't going to go over either. She needed to drive her car. She needed to visit friends (whom she hasn't visited in 2 years), she needed to go shopping in San Rafael (for what?), she needed to go do some things at the thrift store, where she hasn't worked for a year. I know this is really, really hard for her, maybe harder than moving.  Thank god Covell charges for parking spaces and it really is silly for her to pay for parking when she can park in our driveway for free. She thinks she is going to walk to our house whenever she wants the car, though she doesn't know how to get here and there is NO WAY she could walk that far without her back giving her fits. I suspect we will be dealing with the car issue for a long time. I really don't want to tell her that her doctor told me six months ago that she needed to stop driving NOW and that I should hide her car where she couldn't find it.

Ned and Marta came down early this morning and were such a huge help, especially Ned.  I don't think we could have done things as efficiently as we did without him.  I was grateful to him many, many times during the day for all of his expertise.

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The movers did a super job, but were halted briefly when they went to move the piano (which they moved HERE) and found a dead mouse under it.  Ned says that looking at the inside of the piano it was clear the mouse had been living in it for some time.  In fact, there were several pieces of furniture that we moved which had shocking amounts of mouse droppings under them. Obviously Stuart Little had been having a gay old time in that house for a very long time!

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But we eventually called it a day, packed up some of the live plants, and headed off to Davis, through Memorial Day traffic.  

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A second before I took the above picture, she was sitting there, looking so forlorn, her head in her hands. I felt so sorry for her, but hoped that her mood would brighten as we started setting up the apartment in Davis.
The movers did a great job and, per my request, they moved my mother's special chair in first, so she could sit down and watch the proceedings without hurting her back too much.

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It had been Jeri's keen eye which made her take a tape measure to the two beds in my mother's house, and discovered they were identical in size.  We had planned to take the guest bed, thinking it was smaller, but we were able to take her own bed, so she doesn't have to sleep in a "strange bed" tonight.  It fit perfectly.

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(and look at that nice garden view she has to look at when she wakes up in the morning!) The floor rug had to go because they can't have any sort of throw rug there...too great a trip hazard.

Tom, Laurel and the girls arrived to check out Gaga's new pad.  They are going to be going to Terra Linda in a day or two to pack up the dishes and the glass cabinet they are in, but for today, they had a good time exploring Gaga's new garden.

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Throughout the day, members of the staff dropped by to introduce themselves and give her information about the place.  A guy named Ron, a resident ambassador, came to introduce himself, tell her about things, and invite her to dinner with him tomorrow.  He warned her that he had "lots of girlfriends." Just a really nice, warm, welcoming guy and, of course, attention from a man was just what she needed.

Carlos, the maintenance guy, had been in earlier and got her TV installed, and with most of the furniture in, it really was starting to look like her place...with a lot of boxes.

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When we left she wasn't thinking about Terra Linda, but about "taking her time" to unload the boxes, put everything where she wanted it to be, and make this really "her" apartment.

Such an incredibly good sign.  I am bone and brain weary tonight, but happy and feeling hopeful about the future!

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