All posts tagged: Mum

Gratitude When It’s Not Expected

Originally posted on LoriLoo:
I’m grateful for the way Alzheimer’s is affecting my mom’s brain. I attended a Moth Story Slam last night here in Asheville. I love these events. Hearing people tell stories. Being in the presence of vulnerability. Feeling the support of the community as people reveal their joy, their sadness, their fears. The theme this month was “Gratitude.” I thought about preparing a story to share, and then sitting with mom for four hours after a run in with the dining hall manager, spending two hours at the bank dealing with dad’s estate, and writing thank you notes took precedence and the story was never practiced, though it resided in my thoughts. A few weeks ago, I heard some women my mom’s age talk about their “eggshell daughters.” I had never heard this term and asked, “What’s that mean?” They explained that though they loved their daughters tremendously, they felt like they always had to walk on eggshells around them – the tiniest thing would start an incident. “Hm,” I thought. I…

I stole this from Mum’s hallway last time I was there. And I’m glad I did.

I’ve got to start by noting how cute I was when I was two, I’m sorry. I can’t possibly avoid it. I’ve no recollection of where I am, or who took the photo, although I can safely assume it was Dad. And perhaps I’m wearing Mum’s hat? I’m guessing I was about 2 and a half, and to this day I still like to sport a good cap. I’d never seen this picture before summer 2018, when I spotted it at Mum’s house in England on my last visit. She must have dug it out of somewhere, during her constant, chaotic, unnecessary ‘organising and sorting’. It was propped on the little table in the narrow hallway, next to those ceramic hedgehogs I made as a surly teenager at my part-time summer job; it made us both smile when I picked it up and commented on it. After those 3 weeks down in Devon, doing my best to take care of Mum’s needs, filling her full of good healthy food/going to the dentist/doctor/hairdresser/theatre etc etc, the …

“There’s life in the old girl yet”; unbelievable update about Mum

No one wants to be a downer blogger. Generally speaking, I’m a pretty cheery, positive person, while also being sensitive to the cruelty and grief of merely being alive. My 82-yr old Mum (who lives in England, while I’m here in Australia) has Dementia, as most of you know, and I had a challenging time on my visit to her in August. She was still living alone in her rented flat, albeit supported by 5 Carer visits a day, and categorically refusing to even entertain the possibility/probability of needing to move to a group Home… Except events came to a head, as they are wont to do, and the Police were called a few times while Mum was wandering the neighbourhood feeling completely disorientated. I chose to keep all that quiet here, partly out of respect for her privacy, and also because I didn’t want to be a downer blogger. So she was recently moved into a small temporary Home nearby, for her safety and wellbeing, much to the family’s relief. But for her, the …

Three more great moments from Mum, thanks to my smartphone ‘Notes’ feature

I’m two weeks back in Oz now, jetlag gone, and trying to make more space on my phone by deleting notes & photos. I’m so glad I was inspired to write down stuff Mum was saying, as no matter how fabulous it was, I just wouldn’t have remembered it all without prompts. Here’s my Top Three (& you need to know Mum is proudly Celtic in heritage, a little unconventional, and sometimes incredibly philosophical). On watching the Carnival Parade in our small seaside town, clapping along to the Marching Band- “Mum, I think you’re out of time.” “No, I’m doing Welsh time.” The next morning, a Sunday, while the church bells are ringing- “Mum, you’re still covered in glitter from hugging that random person off their float…” “Oh well, it’s a good thing I’m not married to the vicar then isn’t it?” At our last dinner together before my return to Australia- “Shall we have a toast Mum?” “Yes: to all the people who love us, all the people who’ve loved us, and everyone who’s …

Osteopath: ‘You’re all locked up, & we need to shift it.’ Me: ‘OK…’ *gulps

I’ve been back from England for 10 days now (16,886 kms away from home in Australia), and my valiant struggles with the dreaded jetlag are finally paying off. Last night I did open my eyes at 1.30am as usual, but instead of lying there till 4.30, wide awake and wanting some dinner, I went back to sleep within 30 minutes, so have woken up feeling relatively normal. This is joy. And I’m not going to whinge on about the incredible privilege of international air travel, when so many millions of fellow human beings are homeless or without access to clean water… But jetlag does suck bad. Plus sleeping on a shitty pull-out bed on Mum’s floor for 3 weeks had stressed my back, therefore a visit to the Osteopath was part of my self-care strategy on returning. I was massaged, manipulated, adjusted and cracked, especially my chest/rib area, front and back. You know, around your heart. Interesting that. I went home from the appointment feeling terrible: nauseous like morning sickness, grumpy, on edge, and prickly …

The 2 most amazing things my 82-yr old Mum said, despite her dementia

I recently heard this analogy about memory: imagine your brain is a bookcase, filled with books of wisdom and learning from the lowest shelves upwards… but as you age- or get dementia- the topmost books fall off, one by one, or sometimes two by two, until the shelves slowly empty down to the ground… Yet Mum still said great things during our three weeks together, and I’m grateful I wrote them down; there will be more to come. Scenario 1: We’re in her living room, surrounded by plump bookcases- she used to be the Head Librarian of our town. Suddenly she picks up a hardcover book, opens it to a few pages from the front and reads aloud this Rumi quote: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I remembered one of my recent posts- “Nostalgia looks like a hedge, sounds like a seagull, & tastes like crumpets” -about the release of painful memories actually being a blessing for us both. …

I’ve become a waddling Mama duck

I’m at the start of my 3rd week visiting Mum in England, and realized today what’s happening: she’s imprinting on me like ducklings or cygnets do. When I ask her if she’s ready for breakfast, she looks at me to ask if I’m having some? Same with a cuppa, having a shower, or going for a walk. It wasn’t like that for the first week. Or perhaps I was too jetlagged/overwhelmed/finding my way to notice? Now we’ve settled into a routine though, as I’ve learnt the rhythm of her days and nights, including the multiple daily carer visits. So it suddenly stood out to me this afternoon, as I left for a walk on my own, that she really was becoming my shadow. This isn’t good. I return home to Australia in 10 days, and yes, I’m definitely counting down. What’s going to happen once I’ve gone? Who will repeat for the fifth time what we’re having to eat? Who will cook her such fine, healthy lunches, and supply long-favoured treats like crumpets or Crunchie …

When telling a lie is the best option, to clamber ancient rocks in Wales

“Come and stay in the holiday cottage with us; take a break from your Mum,” says my Aunty over the phone. I don’t need to be invited twice. Any excuse to hop on a train cross country- my favourite way to travel. My Aunt and her partner live in North Wales, but a family gathering is happening in South Wales, and it’s the perfect time to catch up with my cousin, her husband, and their 3 kids, as they celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary. They’re staying near where Mum and her 3 siblings grew up, around Gowerton. I’ve never been there before: I’ll get to see the house they grew up in, the school they went to, and most importantly, the bays and beaches over which they gazed as they matured, following their dreams. But I’ll have to ignore the stab of guilt at not taking Mum with me. I know full well that she actually needs the stability of her routines in a familiar place, rather than the stress of travel and an unknown …