I love history--learning about it, cherishing it, making it through making new memories. It's ironic almost that after spending years immersed in researching other people's memories and experiences I find myself sorrowing that someone I love is burrowing deeper and into their past, unable to retain much that is recent, or make new history. This is the agony of dementia. This is my mother's world.
She is slipping away from us, one day at a time. Her recall of the past is clear and crisp, but what we did yesterday, or even five minutes ago is a frightening fog that leaves her anxious and at times, apprehensive, argumentative, and angry.
It's a bitter irony that her life is being lived in reverse, so-to-speak. She clings to the old, the ancient memories, retelling stories, reliving events, both sweet and bitter, switching back and forth between joy and despondency depending on what event flashes into her mind. When a thought or understanding from the present does manage to snap into place, she clings to it with a death-grip, repeating it over and over within a few minutes, as if that current bit of relevance is a life line to the present. We cling to it with her.
Each day is different. On a good day--a day where her routine is uninterrupted--she is funny and sweet, charming and innocent, childlike in her careful exploration of her world. On a day when change injects itself into her routine, be it through a new element or a new person, requiring an adjustment to her rigid world, she fights or retreats. We never know what will trigger what reaction.
It's been hard to pull back from Mom and her concerns enough to work on my manuscripts and then I realized that perhaps it would be good for both of us if I simply wrote my current perspective. So that's what I'm doing. I'm setting the other projects aside and writing a story that includes a character with dementia. It shows the trials and the surprises that go along with loving someone in this delicate mental bubble.
So that's where I'm at right now. It feels right. It's helping me cope by providing a place where I can dump my frustration, and it helps me spend time seeing things from her perspective. I hope it will help someone else who finds themselves in this crucible of caring for a mother/child. I'll tell you how things are going. If you have a loved one with dementia, I'd love to hear your experiences as well.