Monday, December 15, 2008

Ole Missis

I'm typing this from a Fairfield Inn Marriott in Southaven, Mississippi. We got in yesterday, and spent yesterday evening and today at Ron's Mom's place. She lives in a subdivision with street names like Dickens Place Drive, Bloombury Street, and Pemberton Cove. She lives on a culdesac lined with faux-grande brick manses with long driveways all on three-quarter acre "estates."

With vague unease I walk these streets, thinking that some creepy, gothic horror is about to be unearthed, enacted by a Baptist Stepford Wife only doing her Christian duty to that gay guy walking the dog for that elderly Jewish lady down the street.

And what goes on at the house at 4430 bodes ill, too. Mom is in her mid-80s, and has been having problems with her short-term memory, probably caused by TIAs (silent strokes). The memory difficulties cause her considerable anxiety, and she can be very unpleasant. Mom also suffers from paranoia, and makes some pretty dreadful accusations. She taxes everyone's patience. She consumes everyone's emotional reserves.

Alex, the woman who is Mom's caregiver is on 24/7 every day of the year. The strain is evident on Alex, but also on Mom, who does not have a clear idea of the toll that her constant questions, and her anxiousness takes on Alex and Ron. Both Alex and Ron explain things over and over to Mom, but within minutes, Mom is questioning them about it again. Without ceasing. All the time.

Mom's Ole Missis' state of mind could happen to any of us. I can see her struggle, and I see Alex's struggle too. Impatience can trump compassion. This isn't like a caregiver dealing with a child, because children learn. Instead, Mom is in her long decline, and it's not sunset, it's a darkening fog.