Alzheimer’s took my mother –
Finding A Beginning –
“She keeps ringing me up at all bloody hours & asking what fucking day it is, or is she coming over for dinner today, she won’t be coming here at all if she keeps that shit up, I’m knackered out by it” –
My father had been mentioning my mother’s strange behaviour over the previous few weeks, but even more strangely we did not give it a moment’s thought, a thought that something could be wrong, or that this was not normal, not the kind of behaviour our mother would usually present.
Although they had been separated for many years, my mother would routinely go across the road to my father’s house for dinner Tuesday, Friday & Sunday, religious in their habits, quite apt for Irish Catholics, it makes me sad to think how lost she must have become around that time, more so that we never really took any real notice. Our mother functioning whilst unable to know what day it was, frightening when I think now.
It gets worse, much worse –
This bit; I remember like it was yesterday, a Sunday morning my mother called me, even writing about that bloody phone call has jogged a memory, how I had to write my telephone number in my largest handwriting, on a massive oversized telephone with massive square numbers on it, how I had said I was going to block her number because she would constantly call at ridiculous times of the night with her madness, I really said that, wow, slightly more worrying how I began to believe her unbelievable stories – The phone rang; my mother
“Hello Christopher(only my mother calls me Christopher) I cannot turn the light off”
“Mam are you serious, it’s 1 in the morning”
“Oh, don’t worry I will leave it on”
“Have you tried the switch on the wall?”
“Where is it?”
“Is it the lamp that’s on or the bulb on the ceiling?”
“Well one has a plug on it behind your bed, and the other has a white switch on the wall. Can you see them”
“No, I can’t find it, don’t worry I will leave them on”
But by Christ I was worrying, like never before –
I think this was the very first time I had genuinely started to worry, amongst the exasperation of being woken AGAIN in the early hours, I told her I was on my way, yes, I would drive the twenty minutes to her warden aided home to turn her lights off, & classic Bridget when I got there, she told me to leave one light on –
She couldn’t explain why she had become unable to find something as simple as the light switch herself – “I forgot where it was” like a blindness of thought, just how do you forget how a light switch works? That kind of second nature functioning, I would learn that Alzheimer’s has many a cruel twist on her memory over the subsequent months & years.
These warning signs were not succinct, they were anything but, they were deafening when now I look back searching answers & an understanding of when it raised its ugly head, it’s all there, the evidence on a plate, maybe we were not hungry enough, why on earth did we not see it?
Later, the signs would become much greater, clear as crystal for all to see, critical moments – Wondering around the shopping precinct in the early hours in her night clothes unable to know where she was going, or where she lived although it was merely minutes away, not only the signs, but something far more brutal – clear reasons why we would reluctantly, without choice have to find her a safer place, the thing we always said we could never do, a care home.
Previous posts of our mothers story –
Alzheimer’s Took My Mother – Part 1