Well, today was a doozie. I think that I am becoming depressed as I watch my mother ‘s disintegration with Alzheimer’s. It is so hard to watch someone you love become a shadow of their former self. I am not of the school who says, “That’s not the person I once knew.” It is still my mom. Trust me, her sharp tongue is still with her and she often reminds me of the fact that she is the mother and I am the daughter. So I know she is still here. But her brain is just shooting marbles like some mad pinball master. And today, she was ringing bells all over the place.
Today mom was completely and totally absorbed in three, well four, things. She read, when she was awake, the Costco Catalog, a women’s magazine I got at the grocery store check out, and a memory book I gave to her several years ago. And it was over and over and over again. Each time, it was like she was seeing them for the first time. The fourth thing is time. She has no concept of time. Partially from Alzheimer’s and partially because she sleeps from her first cup of coffee around 7am until about 3pm, when the fog seems to lift. And then her day begins. The trouble is, the rest of us have been functioning this entire time and she is so lost. It is like she is scrambling to catch up. So she is constantly checking her watch. She spins the dial and does not push the stem all the way in, so the watch is invariably wrong. Sigh. I fixed it four times before 5 o’clock. Now mind you, she had either slept or been reading those three items since she got out of bed at 7am. This time thing started today at 3pm. So by five, I was ready to throw the watch out into the rain. So I did the next best thing. I set the right time and I super-glued the stem. Don’t judge.
That watch is the exact watch my mom has. Well, you know, God loves to watch us (no pun intended) make fools of ourselves. I carefully super-glued the stem and cleaned off the extra glue, blowing on it the entire time. I started a pot of hot water for my pasta and surreptitiously slipped it into my pocket. I quietly walked to her bedroom, to place the watch on her dresser. Yeah. It would not come out. Glued to my pocket. See? God will get ya! LOL. (Either that or Loki was cracking up). Anyway, I then had to remove the pocket gunk from the watch, after I ripped it out of my pocket, using nail polish remover. All the super-glue came off. I gave up and left her watch in her room. She never saw any of it, totally absorbed with those magazines/books. I have to figure a way around this time thing, because it makes me absolutely crazy. The hard part is she never believes me when I tell her the time, and that her watch is new and works just fine. She is always spinning those hands and walking over to the nearest clock to check for herself.
People in recent eras have suggested that Lewis Carroll was high when he wrote the Alice stories. But when you read his autobiography, it says he had a form of epilepsy. He is known to have said when he had a seizure, that it would take a long time for him to feel like himself again. One of the things about the Alice is stories is that objects and their sizes are all skewed, which is typical of the symptomology of many forms of epilepsy. One of the themes in the Alice books are all about how skewed time was. Which is the reality in mom’s world right now. Time is completely skewed. In the artistic renderings which Lewis himself drew, and which illustrators also drew, are oddly sized time pieces, and a lot of them, in odd places. Well, as mom has sunk further into her rabbit hole, I just thought the images of these absurd time pieces was rather perfect. The White Rabbit gives us the quote we often use, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!” And mom is constantly worried these days about being late for the particular “seating” for a meal. At her old retirement home, there were “seatings” you would sign up for. The different “seatings” were at different times, and also in one of their several dining venues. So she is always thinking she is late, and is walking around the house, checking the time and fussing about being late, and not “getting a good table.” “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”
I don’t think Carroll used drugs. But I do think, through the Alice stories, he gives us insight into some mental illnesses. And it gives me pause when I watch my mom. Tonight she wanted to give me back my Costco Catalog and “the nice magazine you brought to me when you came to visit today” (Yes; she thinks I am visiting her at her apartment and we had been sitting in the public areas all day). But she was determined to take the memory book I made for her back to her apartment/bedroom. I had to explain to her that she lived with me, this was my living room couch, and her book was safe there and would be there when she woke up, and that her bedroom was just down the hallway. She said, “Well, I don’t want just anyone looking at this. It is my book and it is private.” I should have let it go, but I explained it was just the two of us and since I had made the book for her, I knew what was inside and would not look at it. I laid it carefully on top of the catalog and magazine, and patted it gently. She seemed mollified and trotted off to get ready for bed.
Mom was so off her schedule today, that I made us a pot of tea, using my Brown Betty tea pot. It is similar to the white tea pot at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party above. I thought of this scene when giving mom her tea. All those clocks. Ha-Ha. She drank a sip and was once again diving into the Costco Catalog, tea forgotten. But I sat and watched. She was so enervated and alive, looking at their summer tables and vitamins. I am not sure what she sees, but evidently it is enough for her mind to grasp for that moment. Because she moved between those three things – the catalog, magazine, and memory book – the entire day. She did not even watch Steve Harvey today! That is huge! And I realized her world is contracting. So much.
We were invited to go to the State Fair tomorrow. The very thought of it gave me chills. I could not imagine my mom navigating the sights, sounds, people, and weather. It would be sensory overload and would be a short visit. (In addition, because it is Labor Day, all the schools are out tomorrow and kids get into the Fair for free. No thanks! Way too many people). So I did what every daughter in my position would do, I got the kids to go get us Cold Stone Ice Cream. And just put this day to bed. Sigh.