Monday, November 15, 2010

"What am I going to do with my Mother?"

     We arrived at her home shortly after 7 pm Saturday.  My mission was to find the missing Title to my Dad's truck and the missing copies of his death certificate.  I knew they had to be there in her little home somewhere and that she had forgotten where she put them. 
     It is the new norm now, as nothing can be believed because her short term memory has declined so that she truly doesn't remember where anything has been placed by her own hands or that she has even touched or ever seen what you are talking about.  It only angers her when I explain for the 15th time that her Grandson doesn't have the title even though she is strongly convinced otherwise because he is selling my Dad's truck for her. It seems she remembers giving the title to him but she will not be convinced that he didn't take it with him. It makes no difference that I am telling her that he said he would leave it with her.   She knows for sure that he has the title because she gave it to him.        
     The other goal I have is to figure out what bills she has coming in so that a budget and income can be calculated for her by Dad's financial advisers.  She is very suspicious and momentarily forgets that this is why I have come today.  She wants to know what business it is of theirs to know how they spend their money.  It has truly escaped her that we have met with them on two occasions just for that determination.   I explain again that they asked me to figure out her monies coming in and going out monthly.  She repeats again the same question.  I remind her that due to Dad's passing away that the bills are her responsibility and they need to know how much of his holdings need to go to an income and what will be left to reinvest for her.  This time she is compliant.
      Her obsession for neatness compels her to put things out of sight that have stacked up since the funeral.  She truly doesn't know what they all are, these papers that come in the mail. She tells me that she "got sick of looking at them" and put them away.  I've been counting on her long term memory to be able to distinguish between the junk mail from Publishers Clearing House, the NRA, the amazing Kreskin, Herbal Healing and vitamin newsletters, the Republican National Comittee and various other places that sparked my Dad's interest  from the business mail she receives from Alcatel Lucent, their Bank statements, Utility Bills and Life Insurance letters to the beneficiary.  It would be so much easier for me to be able to believe her yet her actions betray my trust.
     Her dresser drawer holds all of "her things" she tells me.  We open it to find,
lots of junk mail, empty envelopes, cards and notepads but no sign of what we are searching for.  I go to my Dad's dresser and open the drawer not sure of what I will find.  There where his socks and PJ's use to be I find the three tall stacks of papers that had been accumulating since the funeral.  Only moments ago I asked her what had become of the stacks of paper that I previously saw lying on her hope chest. She couldn't tell me where she put them only that she "got sick of looking at them"  I think of how it compares to little children shoving their toys under the bed out of sight when they are cleaning their rooms.
     I weed through every paper looking for the ones needed that have some how disappeared into thin air from where they were placed in safe keeping.  I locate the title to the truck and lift it up to show her.  She asks me how it got in there and did I put it there?   I tell her No, I didn't.  I never was in the habit of getting into their things before my Dad died but those days are gone.  I block the feeling that arises in me that somehow I am betraying their privacy yet I know it is what has to be done.  I don't like looking through her things, it feels wrong to me but this person who once was impeccably organized is also nowhere to be found.   As I continue my quest,  I find the missing copies of Dad's death certificate.  There are still businesses that need proof of his passing.  A wave of guilt reminds me that when we received the 10 copies I didn't trust her to keep them all.  I feared that she would misplace them so I only gave her four.  I remembered asking her where she felt she could safely keep them and she suggested her brown lock box. At that time I took her to the box and explained that we would put them in the very front of the box so that if she needed them she would be able to find them.    This time, I place only one of them back in the box. She asks me at least three more times where we are putting the title.  I suggest to my husband that rather than placing it on her dresser for safe keeping that we should take it to my nephew so that none of us will be responsible for it.  It should stay where the truck is.  She agrees.
      I look in to her check book and discover that she has made payments on bills that were paid off only a month ago.  She has forgotten that she paid them off.    I am able to figure out what bills my Dad was paying on a regular basis and I chuckle when I see that he had written checks to Publishers Clearing house; probably his Woodworker magazine or maybe the Martha Stewart subscription for Mom.    I am ready to go home but she offers us ice cream and I can't resist.   She tells me that she has recently read an article that explains why she forgets things;  she isn't eating enough sugar. I have lost track of how many times she has told me the reasons that she forgets things but this time she has the solution, adding sugar to her tea.
     I leave the house with a whirlwind of thoughts running through my head.
What can I do for my Mother.  She will not hear of leaving her home, she is sure that she is able to take care of herself and is in total denial that the extreme nature of her short term memory problem is nothing more than being 80 years old and losing your husband.  I know that what she exhibits are not signs of the natural aging process. It is more severe.  On occasion her friends and neighbors have approached me asking, "What are you going to do with your Mother?"   Everyone who interacts with her sees that there is a problem. These questions run through my mind: Is she still bathing?  Why does she wear the same clothes three days in a row.  What is she eating?  She doesn't seem to be cooking anymore, even though she doesn't admit it.   Does she remember to take her thyroid and blood pressure medicines?  Does she remember that she has medicines to take?  Will she remember how to get home the next time she drives to the grocery or bank?  How will I convince her that she must see a doctor?   Her personality has always been one of non-compliance, and she has always been one who knows she is always right.   How will I ever find  a way to help her if she has no recollection that she is forgetting.   The very suggestion that she needs to see a doctor and be tested incites her combative nature and I am accused of wanting to "put her into an asylum."   I am getting nowhere and the question still remains; "what am I going to do about my Mother?"