I had the weirdest telephone conversation yesterday. A woman rang the landline and asked for me by name, she gave her name and then proceeded to ask if it was ok to change her shift at the café to have Mondays off. Café?...what café? She named it and also gave me the name of the person who had passed on my home number, which she quoted perfectly. Now I was getting a bit worried as I do not and have never ever worked in a café! The poor woman was embarrassed I think, but it made me go and ask my hubby if I was going mad. Had I forgotten I worked in a café? Had he heard of this place? His reply was simply 'don't be daft, woman!' but it got me thinking about people with Dementia. At what point do they realise something is amiss and how frightening it must be for them and their families when real life starts to blur.
My mother lived to be 92 but the last 5 years of her life were increasingly difficult to cope with for all of us. She lived alone in a 3 bedroomed house, ultimately becoming unable to climb the stairs and being confined to one room (there was no central heating). For the last 2 years of her life I went in alone two or three times a day to bring food, make her a cup of tea, do a bit of shopping and tidying, collect her washing, sit and chat etc. My Brother worked full time and my Sister lived too far away to help. Mum wouldn't let strangers into the house to help. It was quite literally killing me. Many a time I put her to bed, closed the door then sat in my car sobbing my heart out before driving home in the dark alone. Her memory began to fail and she would 'forget' to eat the lunch I left for her. I would pop in after work and the food was left uneaten beside her. She 'forgot' to drink too and became dehydrated. We tried 'Meals On Wheels' but she would wrap the meal in newspaper and put it in the bin. In the end it became too much even for two of us (my dear Brother had to share much of the strain for the last year) She spent her last 2 weeks in a nursing home not really recognising the family and the night before she died she thought I was my Sister. I sobbed then too. To see my lovely caring mum become a stranger was the hardest thing to bear and my heart goes out to anyone trying to cope alone.
On a happier note: my Small Treasure today is that now, after 5 years, I am able to look back to the happy times we shared and the fun we used to have. I can get out the photographs and smile instead of sob.
Yes, I know I have already posted this photo but my mum loved flowers and these make me smile.
Thank you for reading this x