“I want to go home.” That’s my mother’s constant desire these days as her dementia continues to worsen. She’s not talking about heaven as some people might think. She’s quick to say she’s not ready to move up to heaven just yet. Most of the time, the home she’s talking about is her mother’s home where she grew up. This is a picture of Mom when she was around sixteen or seventeen with that mother she wants to see and her older sister, Evelyn. Mom’s on the right and Evelyn is on the left. Evelyn went to business school after high school and she looks very business like in this photo.
Sometimes, but not as often, the home my mother wants to go to is the home when I was a kid. At those times, she might be thinking my sisters and I are young and playing out in the yard. She needs to watch us and cook supper for my father. She can’t understand why people keep telling her she is at home when she recognizes nothing around her. She no longer remembers where the bathroom is in this house where she’s been living for over twenty-five years. The furniture is new to her, even those pieces that she’s had since her early married days. She has no idea where all the knickknacks sitting around on the shelves came from. She’s forgotten how and where she gathered them or inherited them when others in the family passed on.
Harder to explain, she thinks the pictures in the magazines are real at times and the people on television are actually right there in the room with us. She gets irritated at them when they keep talking and ignore her. Last week when I was here, I started watching the UK ballgame with her. By the end of the first half she was saying she thought it was time for those boys (the ballplayers) to go to bed. Usually by the time darkness falls, she’s tired and resigned to staying at this house one more night.
I’ve quit trying to tell her that she is at home and just say we have to stay at this house. It’s nice and warm. Has all the conveniences and yes, it does have bedrooms and her gown is in one of the bedrooms. That’s always a relief for her. Of course, there have been times when she refused to put on her gown and wore her clothes to bed. I assume so that she would be ready to go when somebody finally remembered to show up to take her “home.”
At first it was difficult for me to lie so blatantly to my mother. But now I say things like Dad’s working late in the fields. Perhaps picking corn by the harvest moon. Or he’s getting the hay in before the rain. We tell her that her mother is visiting relatives out of town. I tell her that we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to go “home.” When she says she drove the car down this morning or was just at the grocery store, I nod and pretend that very thing happened. When she says Ann came and got the kids, I say, that was good.
I lie over and over again. But as I wrote on here once before, the truth no longer matters to my mother. She has lost all the truths of her life except for that dream of going back to when she was young. To when she was needed. To when life was fresh and easier. To when she can almost remember how things should be. She doesn’t remember that time right either. It gets all mixed up with what’s happening now and even what she sees on the TV when it’s on. We often have to avoid or turn off the news so she won’t identify with the bad things happening.
So we continue taking it one day at a time and sometimes one hour at a time. And it is so very sad. I think it is harder for my sisters and me than her other caretakers because we know what Mom has lost. We know what we have lost. And we’re sorry, so very sorry to have lost our mother this way. We still have her with us, but we’ve lost the mother who was our friend, our biggest supporter, our encourager, and maybe the mother that someday we will wish we could go “home” to be with.
I don’t write about Mom too often here because it is so sad. But I know many of you have prayed for Mom and for me, and I appreciate that so much. Prayer has been the “medicine” that has worked best for Mom when things were really going south. So thank you all.
On a lighter note, keep in mind you can check out the Bookfun Network site and leave an answer there to one of my easy questions for a chance to win a copy of my book, Christmas at Harmony Hill. More opportunities to win the book or other prizes will be showing up so stay tuned or sign up for my newsletter if you haven’t already. Also, you can still leave a comment here until Wednesday to throw your name in the hat for Jan Watson’s books.
Thanks for reading! Hope you have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!