Our family is once again hit with dementia lurking, as my mother-in-law is exhibiting signs more and more.
In her though, I have to hope it was an onset with her welcoming and God allowing it to come, as she dealt with a man full of control and emotional along with verbal abuse, for years. This protected her.
This sweet lady endured so much while we had to keep our distance from the same man. While he exhibited issues, something clicked in 2018 and made it worse. They both aged twenty years, as I compared photos within a fourteen-month span. Still, we had to hold our distance, making minimal visits to observe, with excuses to get in the door.
Now, speed forward, he passed away this year and that in itself was a horrid situation. How terrible to say, but a relief although so sad.
While she is in our care now, she has improved so much, those twenty years after helping her in hygienic ways, she looks younger and happier. Memory of him is long gone, for the better.
How long we get to enjoy this sweet lady is unknown but she will never be abused. Hopefully, her dementia will not worsen but usually it does. We will cross that bridge as it comes.
I ordered a book called, A 36-Hour Day. The reviews have been great from others in this role. Some advice we are already doing, not knowing, which gives me hope that we have been doing the right things to help her.
We are learning as we go. Slow but steady steps. We have crossed big hurdles until the next one to get here where we are today. Now we are smooth sailing and making great strides.
Thankful that we have the means of doing what we are accomplishing and hope and pray to continue.
Everything that happened during the COVID19, was not all bad. It allows her son to work from home still, caring for her in her own home and surroundings.
I have the best mother-in-law. She has the best daughter-in-law. That’s what I tell her and we both laugh. I’m the only daughter-in-law. Truth!
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.”
Today, as I listened to Reba McIntyre talk about her dad and how she never heard him tell her that he loved her growing up, laughing and brushing it off, I felt sad. What was it about that generation that did not say they loved their children? I know it must have hurt her even though she understood him. All children need to hear I Love You. I try to grasp what that generation was thinking, perhaps how they were raised. Did they not hear I Love You and figured that was the right way to raise their children or were they told too much and definitely did not want to repeat the same, which I really doubt. Maybe they were never told I Love You, so they lived a life of figuring they were loved, or also doubting of their parent’s love.
Had I heard those three words growing up, it sure would have saved me a lot of time and money in counseling. While that was not the main purpose of counseling, it played a big part of my life, a missing part. I discovered that I felt unlovable and not knowing even that until the counselor helped me see the dots connected. Something was just missing. Thank God she picked up on what I said and expressed of my childhood and adulthood.
While I, too, understood, I missed that part of truly knowing. Of course, they loved me, I am their child. RIght? Then again, I was an oopsie and did they regret me more than love me, which was a thought I often had. No, they loved me. It was just not part of them to express, and I have to remember that was just the way it was for them back then. How sad though that a child has to wonder such facts that should be an important part of growth.
Some will immediately state, of course, you were loved, as you had a roof over your head, shoes on your feet and food on the table. True! Is it that hard to say I Love You though to your own flesh and blood?
One thing, I learned of never hearing I Love You was to always tell my children that I love them. They never leave or hang up the phone call without their mom saying, I Love You. In turn, they tell me that they love me, which means the world to me. Maybe I run it in the ground too much whenever we leave one another, as I have thought, but how can one not enjoy hearing those three words. If I was to leave this world or they would, I want them to never have to guess or wonder if I loved them, vice versa. My heart beats for them, more than they will ever know. The last words, no matter when, I Love You!
I am sure in my parent’s heart, it beat for me, but my heart was broken many times when growing up, playing the guessing game if I truly was loved. Sadly, growing up never hearing, I never said those words to them either. Even though, they cared for me and at the end of their lives, I cared for them. That’s love!
It is understanding but yet forgiving them and myself of what did not happen in order to go on and know deep within that they loved me, and I loved them.
Never miss the opportunity to reassure those in your life of your appreciation, pay a compliment and put a positive word in their life and the most important is, I Love You.
The reversal of roles between parents and children is such an odd place to be, but required. Knowing full well that while I am still the parent to my children, years and hopefully many years from now, they will be caring for me and making good decisions on my behalf.
I try to remember this today for the tomorrow. The situation we are being faced with is of my in-laws. Watching the gradual decline over the years, which seems to have increased this past year, even the past two months. As with the world, we have all had to limit contact with others due to Covid19. Even though, through the pandemic, we had to limit our time, we have always had to limit our contact and basically make an appointment to visit through the years that I have been in this family.
It’s the oddest thing. My father-in-law is a stubborn, old man and is and has been controlling with his attitude as well as being verbally abusive, if not emotionally abusive to my mother-in-law. I have often asked her when we get a few minutes without him hovering over her if he is ever physically abusive, which is always no, thankfully. I just hope. Through it all, she covers for him, also lives in denial about a lot within the family and is an enabler to him. If he is giving her a hard time or is being a grouch, she will say it is not a good day to visit, when we call, but thanks for calling. Goodbye.
If we do get the green light to visit, we ring the door bell and wait for their surprised masked faces we came to visit. They are just fine, nothing is wrong and so happy to see us. I have learned that having Aspergers, which runs in their family, the mask can only be on for so long. With her tied to this man, she has also learned the traits and follows along to keep him calm.
Around Christmas, I visited, a surprise visit. I was at the grocery store near their house, calling to test the waters but to see if they needed anything. In her happy, jovial voice saying come on over, I knew it was a good day. As I am in the grocery store, my cell phone rings and it is her, as she did need some things. How about that. Almost ready to check out, she calls again, he wants peppermint candy. Now the visit, to spy out the land and knowing it should be a short, nice visit.
Something had surely changed. Things were not as clean and neither were they. As I helped her put away what groceries she requested with some added treats, I knew they enjoyed, I was somewhat taken aback by it all. This is not good, not good at all. Apparently, not bathing is normal with age, dementia or Alzheimer’s or whatever we are facing. There is no need to even mention a doctor’s visit or anything outside of their four walls, as he would not approve, so she suffers, too.
Recently, since we were expecting a bad snow storm this past week, their son (my husband) and I both made a surprise visit, if allowed, only giving them about forty-five minutes to clean up their act, appearance, etc., which not happen. In just two months, they both have deteriorated and while her hair looked cleaner, it was matted down. How can that be? He was looking like a mad man sitting there, now with long hair and a beard commenting he cannot see. I had never seen this man with a beard or looking so disheveled. The house was not clean but it was not nasty, yet. Things are slipping.
Again, no need to mention an eye appointment or a hair appointment, it’s not worth getting him all riled up and kicking us out, which has happened with the older son.
Their son, my husband, was just over there two nights before because they were not answering their phone. The mind can only think the worst in that situation. The phone was unplugged and neither had a clue how that happened. Plus, forgetting he was over.
Also, the toilet was clogged the day we both stopped in, so he fixes it while I am listening to both of them blame the other for that problem. In my mind, I’m thinking it had to be one of you, while quietly laughing to myself as this played out. You did it! No, you did it! At least through all the chaos around me while visiting, it was entertaining, even though so sad.
With the groceries and a hot pizza we brought, I again helped her put things away but then I stood back and watched her again. The lady was lost. Not even knowing what to do with paper towels or what to put the pizza on to serve him. I hesitated while watching her stand in the unknown of her mind and I said, a plate. Immediately, she looks at me and smiles with a wink and says, yes a paper plate. For a moment, with the smile and a wink, she returned, as that was my sweet mother-in-law. Gone again within minutes, staring at the pizza.
I mentioned her sister, the church, the pastor and various topics in our time together with nothing to follow, just a look. I really don’t think she remembers any of them. Repeating often of the weather and snow storm, as that was of interest to him. Many times, she would chime in with, “Are we going to get snow?” The repeating did not bother me, as I went through this with my own mom. It’s the fact of how far she had gone downhill, so quickly, in two months.
While I don’t do this out of disrespect but of record, as I did with my aunt while in the nursing home, I put my cellphone on silent and snap pics, in an indiscreet way, they never knew. I feel more than ever, it is time to keep track of their health and well-being. This year will be one of decisions for their three sons to make, although it will all fall upon my husband, their middle son, and myself. Knowing he will put it on me. I need to be ready to state my case when it comes to some immediate things, like taking the car keys away from her, hiding her keys or letting air out of a tire or disconnect the car battery. Yes, she still drives, but only to the grocery store, which is near. Still, that’s dangerous now, with the thought of seeing their photo on the local news as a missing couple.
The sons think they are fine, just getting older. True! They did years ago, when trying to convince them, we have a problem developing. I think the whole family lives in denial.
When leaving, I am holding my phone in a direction to snap a pic of her while talking about the snow storm again. Even in the freezing temperature, she walks out on the porch to say goodbye. She does that because she knows that task still. My pic of her when I got home and look at it, she is lost. There is nothing alert in her facial appearance standing before me, the eyes are dim, somewhat fixed, as nobody’s home. A total hopelessness over the years have taken her over. Now what do we do? How do I direct their son(s) in the next phase?
The lady in this pic has more life in her eyes than what I saw in my mother-in-law. The strong one caring for her husband is becoming non-existent. I could and can deal with her, I don’t know if I can deal with my father-in-law. Help me Jesus!
Sitting at the kitchen table, I see bills and their checkbook, wondering if she is even capable of continuing this task. Nothing has been set up for a son or sons to be in charge of such financial business for household or medical circumstances, unsure of benefits when they pass or what are we are up against. They are and have always been private, his control and being so stubborn. It was hopeful to ask her but now that is gone, we lost the window of opportunity. When the inevitable happens or even a medical emergency, we will be scrambling to locate paperwork. It is coming, too fast and too soon.
His mom is an empty shell. So sad, as the words she spoke to me just ten years ago, after her retirement; soon after being held as a prisoner in her own home by him, saying, “This was not what I was expecting.” She felt hopeless back then and in all of those years, now hopelessness is so visible, she has given up as she is just a shell of a woman.
Thanks for reading. Any input is welcome if you have experience in a situation, as such. ML
Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. … Instead, we have to trust in God. But the point is clear: as parents got older and are no longer able to provide or care for themselves, the responsibility is passed to the children.