Tonight I walked into an empty house.
After this night, and others that were much worse, with screams, and fists, and chases, and physical restraints, and bruises, and drinks (hot and cold) thrown at me, I made the decision to move Mom to memory care. Memory care is sort of a modern day euphemism for Hotel California. You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. It’s a locked facility about 30 minutes south of here, and when I toured it, it instinctively felt like a home, not an institution. I liked the staff; I placed a deposit.
Yesterday I took artwork, kitchen items, hanging clothes, pictures, linens. Anything I could easily fit in my car. I spent the day cleaning, measuring, hanging artwork and photos, and envisioning where furniture could go. Today we had a plan. A solid plan. I thought.
Movers would show up between noon and 6 pm. My sister, Ashley, along with Mom’s caretaker, would leave the house at noon and go to CVS to have Mom’s TB test read. They would go to lunch at Mom’s favorite restaurant, and then meet me at her Alzheimer’s doctor’s office at 2 pm. After the appointment, I would go to Mom’s new home and finish setting up, so that when Ashley dropped her off tomorrow, everything would be set up. Ashley and Mom would go on an “adventure” and spend the night at a hotel, so that she wouldn’t see the things gone from our home. A dear friend agreed to be on call in case the movers came around the time I needed to go to the doctor’s appointment (they did). When she arrived around 1 pm; I was wiping away tears. With compassion, she asked, “Why are you crying?”
I’ve thought about that question all day.
I’m crying because I tried and it didn’t work.
I’m crying because I’m watching the brain of someone I love deteriorate, slowly.
I’m crying because trying and willpower and enthusiasm and optimism are no match for Alzheimer’s.
I’m crying because I’ve built a life with Mom. A life with challenges, but a life I’m very grateful for that I won’t have anymore.
I’m crying because it pains me to see others in pain, and she’s so tormented by false memories. She thinks Dad is still alive, and he’s left her for another woman, and she’s trying to lure him back.
I’m crying because I’m grieving the loss of my last surviving parent. She’s physically still alive, and yet I feel I’ve lost her.
I’m crying because I wonder if I gave up too early.
I’m crying because it’s all I know how to do right now.