I am working on the concept of resiliancy - I need to be resiliant in order to deal with the marathon of dementia caregiving ahead of me.
First I need to "accept" Mom's dementia and I have a problem with that "accept" word. The picture of me, throwing up my hands accepting defeat bounces around in my head. No definitions I have seen so far have been able to budge that picture off the front page of my brain.
In a Family Caregivers' Network educational session I took recently, the following definition of "accept" was spoken and I am taking it on board as a tool I can use.
Accept - humbly letting go of things you cannot change or that over which you have no control.
That works for me. Letting go suggests choice. I like choice. So, accepting is no longer rolling over and playing dead.
I have also just finished a six-week course at the Alzheimer Society in Victoria. I learned so much about the inner workings of dementia - not the medical part but the behavioural part. I also learned a lot about grief and the emotions that are stirred up when one is grieving.
In looking at my own grief, I realized that nobody will ever love me the way my mother loves me. When she dies, the years of feeling that love will be over. In many ways, I am losing it now as she changes. That's a tough one for me.
At the same time, I know that I will not truly be an adult until my mother dies. Another scary thought. I'm sixty and have never known life without my mother. What will that look like?
It will be a natural transition, a natural cycle of life, and it would have been nice without the constant sadness that I feel now. And without the fear Mom feels now as she knows she's losing her grip. The blessing is that she only knows that she forgets what she knows she should remeber. Forgotten things - she has no idea she forgot them.
I think this may be the toughest type of grief - Mom is still here, looks the same, sounds the same but she is not the same. The "she" of her is missing. Little chunks of her melt and fall off like the collapse of the glaciers. Each day I notice another change and I celebrate none of them. It is a constant reminder of "what is" compared to "what was". Daily sorrow.
But today she sounded well when I phoned - she will be happy to see me this afternoon and it will be a surprise for her, even though I told her I would see her this afternoon.
"Oh, Barbie, why didn't you tell me you were coming?"
Ah, another day.