Why was I getting an email from a policewoman in England; is this the latest scam? But I recognised her station’s address, so clicked it open with dread. It was about Mum.
“We’ve had a couple of calls from members of the public concerned about her welfare as she appeared very confused. I attended her home address & agree that her dementia is getting worse.”
I wrote last year about Mum’s diagnosis in the post ‘She’s slipping through my fingers and there’s nothing I can do’; it’s been a waiting game since then.
You see, as a child, Mum spent two years in a sanatorium, recovering from Tuberculosis, and has had a dread of hospitals and ‘group homes’ ever since. Dark things happened there, and she is forever scarred. So for the last ten years, when it would have been a smart, forward-thinking plan to move to a retirement village, and enjoy all the facilities and interactions available, she refused. Wouldn’t have a bar of it. Last year when I was in England visiting her, she constantly reminded me that she didn’t ever want to be put in to a home…
Thus we organised a Social Care Assessment, and she’s been having twice-daily visits from a community nurse to ensure she’s eating a hot lunch and dinner (she can’t use the stove any more). It’s a terribly unsatisfactory situation in terms of her nutrition, or social isolation, but what can we do? I had meeting after meeting with her doctor, and my cousin and I both made phone call after phone call to various services, but as long as she can articulate that she wants to stay at home, and can be safely supported to do so, that’s what’s considered best for her.
And I agree.
But I call her every 3 or 4 days from here in Australia, and her stability has certainly declined, which distresses me every time. She laughs it off, and remains cheerful. Sometimes she has a ‘good day’, where we talk and laugh for 30 minutes, and I can even tempt her into a political discussion; other times she says she’s tired, and swats away my bids for connection as she loses every other word it seems.
They are bad days indeed.
I cannot fathom what it must feel like for her: a very intelligent, arts-and-culture loving woman, who was the town’s head librarian for years. It reduces me to tears.
We weren’t that close once I hit my teenage years, as I was a determined rebel, and took my independence with a vengeance. Now, I just want to look after her, and feed her properly, making sure she drinks heaps of water, and gets to watch all the old B & W musicals she loves.
But I can’t. My life is simply in a distant country, with my son ’17’. Tomorrow, Mum’s younger sister and niece are going to visit her, to assess her situation for themselves, and I’m sick to my stomach with worry and fear. My younger brother, who also lives outside the UK, but only a couple of hours away by plane, is hoping to visit in April- but we all know if Mum has to be moved, and pack the entirety of her life into boxes, it’s me who will need to do it.
I’m sorry this isn’t a more cheery blog post; I’ve been struggling a bit since coming back from Tasmania, and this is one of the reasons.
In gratitude for all the care and kindness I’m surrounded by, both in real life and online, G xO