My mother has Alzheimer's disease. I buy flowers once a week for her, the house. I could tell her 100 times that today is mother's day, she wouldn't remember. Before acting, poetry I took care of the elderly and the sick in a hospital/ nursing home in the South Bronx. That's the only reason I've been able to take care of her this long. I never really understood what hard meant until I woke up in the middle of this situation with my mother, with little options. I also had no clue what I could and couldn't handle.
People like to say, you're a good son or that's a really great thing you're doing. I say thank you. Little do they know it will kill me if I allow it to. Last week I was awoken in the middle of the night when my mother decided she want to drop a load of her shoes onto my bed because she didn't know what to do with them. They're in my way! she says. She's pulled knives on me, told me she wants to kill me, slapped me, thrown tea on me. That's what I can remember. Sometimes I think Alzheimer's is like a cold I've caught from her. But it's just that there is so much on my mind at one given moment. I've missed many appointments, auditions. On top of having to take care of the bills and administer her medication, I have to worry if she forgets to turn off the stove, puts a pot in the microwave, things of that nature. On the less than rare occasion she does, I have to pretend that someone else did it or take responsibility for it myself. If I blame her or raise my voice she'll realize there is something wrong with her and go into a deep depression. A son does not want to hear his mother cry, ever.
I've been taking care of her for more than two years now. I am now starting to feel the effects of it. Ive lost a lot of weight do to stress. I guess I'm happy about that but I'm scared it will come back do to some late night binge eating. I don't sleep. I'm developing an addiction to caffeine pills. I don't want to dose off driving back and forth to the city when I have to.
Everyone we've known is gone. People call to check in, come by to see how we're doing but never stay long enough to help. When someone does come over I can see their desire to leave just as the awkwardness of my mother's repetition becomes evident to them. Everyday is a new struggle and journey. Daily I have to go through her drawers to find her toothbrush, shoes, sometimes food… My brother and I have spoken about a nursing home but after research I realize that's for either the really rich or the very poor. I could literally lose my house. The other option is to get an in-house nurse. That is also a scary option. Aside from having a complete stranger in my home taking care of my mother, there is the thought of how my mother would treat her. The biggest fight is my mother's need to feel independent, to feel like there is nothing wrong with her. She constantly asks me what is wrong with her, why can't she remember things. She wakes sometimes looking for her mother, her father, her brothers. She talk to me about me: Where's Craig? I am Craig mom. oh. <= depression. Like I said, I'm starting to feel the effects of this struggle on my self. My mood can get dark. I went out to the movies the other night with some friends to get out the house. I could feel my cynicism, my meanness, my disregard for others. I found myself taking out things on my friends I can't release in my house. I see it. I feel it.
This post isn't really about looking for solutions. I know exactly what I have to do. I just need a little purge. And the truth is if I had to do it all over again, I'd do the same. My parents made me who I am today. Before my father died, I carried him up and down steps after he lost his legs to diabetes. On his deathbed he asked me promise to take care of my mother. He didn't have to ask.
Happy Mother's day.