“Some days are good. Some days are not. Today, my head is pounding. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no right to complain. I don’t live with my parents and they do have caregivers and my saint of an aunt, Ann, who stays with them, but will be heading to her home in Florida in August (which fills me with panic).
This is how my day started – wake up at 4:30 a.m. Get dressed. Head to my bakery. Bake stuff. Open my bakery at 7 a.m. with my daughter, Emily. 7:40 a.m. my phone rings. I don’t pick it up in time. It’s Dad and there is a message. I listen to it and I can hear noises, but not words. It cuts off. I call back right away. No answer. Another voice message appears as I hang up.
It’s Dad, Mom fell getting out of the shower. I’m going to call Kris (my brother) to see if he can come help.
I leave the bakery and head across the street – they live a block away. By the time I get there, they have her in her wheelchair. Dad heads for the living room to rest. Ann and I work on getting mom dressed. She asks at least 3 times where her husband Carl is. We tell her he is resting. We wheel her out to the living room and she says she is cold.
We get her in her recliner next to Dad and she immediately reaches for his hand and closes her eyes – his are already closed. We get mom some blankets and wake her to take her pills. She takes them and falls back to sleep. I walk past dad and he wakes up enough to say something. I stop to listen. He says, “Mom was up (which means he was up) around 1:00 a.m. and didn’t go back to bed until almost 3 a.m. I took her to the bathroom and then she didn’t know what the bed was, so she wouldn’t go back to bed. She wouldn’t get out of her wheelchair. So I sat with her and waited.”
My reply: “Oh Dad,” filled with as much sorrow and sadness my voice could convey. Although I can write about almost anything, I often struggle to find the words I want to say, especially in emotional situations. He falls back to sleep, still holding her hand. I hang around for a little while and then head back to the bakery.
WAIT – MY DAY IS NOT DONE! This time my sister Mary Ann calls around 1:15 p.m. “Dad just called and asked if I could come over right away. I’m at lunch. Can you go?”
Me: “Yep.” (that word came out the way it was supposed to – loud enough to override the “NOPE” that was right behind it). Off I go across the street.
It’s kind of weird, but when I was young I used to love to watch the “Twilight Zone.” Now there are some days when I think I have entered it when I open their door. Mom is sitting in her recliner with Dad beside her. Ann is close by. All appears to be what I like to call “normal.” Ann tells me mom slept til 12:30 (surprise) and ate some lunch. Dad is finishing his. I am wondering why I’m standing in their living room. Then mom says, “OK” and tries to get up. Today is a day her legs don’t seem to be working, so getting up is not a good idea. I ask her where she’s going. She looks at me and says, “Let’s go.” Now I know why I’m here – to help distract her and hopefully prevent a slide from her chair onto the floor. I ask her if she wants to get in her wheelchair. She does. Ann and I help her – her legs are not cooperating today, but we manage.
Off she goes, wheeling herself to the kitchen, then back to the living room. Off we go to the bathroom. Through the bathroom and into their bedroom. Next stop, the living room. I have her push herself the whole time so she is tired. We found if we ask her if she wants to sit in her recliner to hold dad’s hand, she is more apt to say yes, so I try it out and she says yes. A WIN FOR EVERYONE! Back she goes. She closes her eyes.
The magic hour of 2:00 has arrived and Claudia, her caregiver, walks in. For a split second I realize I almost started clapping (now that would have been embarrassing). I say my goodbyes and I love you’s and head back to the office. My phone is at 16%. I used to panic it would shut off – I don’t anymore…”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becky Gacono of Annville, Pennsylvania. She is chronicling her mother’s dementia journey on their Facebook page and in a series of posts for Love What Matters. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best love stories in our free newsletter here.
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