It is so easy to get caught up in my own disease and forget the trials of others around me.This was a rather disturbing weekend. With my husband out of town, I was own mother-in-law duty. Normally that amounts to very little; but this weekend was very, very different.
Saturday afternoon she called, whispering over the phone line that she had company and she was frightened. Now, this is not the first time she has had "company", but said company has never frightened her.
My mother-in-law is living with dementia and is practically a prisoner in her own home. She refuses to go to a nursing home and has kicked out any home help we have found for her. She forgets to eat; is constantly loosing items around the house; accuses people of entering her home and helping themselves to her possessions; often wears the same clothes for a week; and does not know one day, month, or season from the other. Other than that...she is in tip top shape.
Now, don't go off and call human resources. Believe it or not, we have it under control. Since we live one street over, one of us is there every day. It is not an ideal situation, but it is the best she will allow of us. Hey, she is nearly 90 years old. If she wants to live out her days in her own home she has every right to do so.
But, I digress...
After hanging up the phone I of course immediately donned my shoes and hightailed it to her house. The front door was locked, which concerned me at first. I could hear her telling me to come in but without her assistance that was not going to happen.
Finally I heard her shuffling over to the door, which she promptly opened to me and indicated that I must follow her to the kitchen.
"He was just here. Help me look for him. I don't want him in the house."
I didn't know my mother-in-law in he prime and have only been a member of her family since 2007, but she showed me evidence of a once active woman. I have never seen her move as quickly as she did looking for "that boy".
When I finally got her settled back on the couch, I listened attentively as she expressed her concern about him getting back into the house. Her biggest concern was that he would not answer her when she asked him questions.
"Who is he?" I asked.
By the time I left he had three different identities, all of whom were grandsons, one being my own child.
Also by the time I left, she seemed to be back in the present and doing fine.
Until said my final goodbyes, with hand on the door knob, and I heard...
"I don't know where my parents are. It is not like Dad to be gone so long."
I knew I would be back for a longer stay. And I was.
So, the writer in me came charging up to bat later Saturday evening. She was tucked into bed and my son was doing what ever he does on his computer. So I fired up my own trusty wireless pal and wrote.
The Disappearance of Martha Groves
“Glory? Glory, where are you? Where did you go?”
Martha shambled into the kitchen desperately glancing down the adjacent hallway as her pulse quickened in momentary confusion.
Her sister had said nothing about leaving. They had been enjoying a cool glass of sweetened tea prior to nature’s urge propelled Martha to visit the lady’s. She was certain she had properly excused herself with a promise to return. The women were enjoying this unexpected mid-day visit. A time to remember. A time to reminensce.
It wasn’t very often that these once daily visits occurred of late. Glory didn’t drive very often anymore and Martha hadn’t been able to find her car keys for some time. She needed to remember to ask Bob about that. Maybe he knew what had become of them. She only remembered to ask when she most needed them, and that wasn’t very often.
Placing her frail hand on the wall to steady herself, Martha carefully placed one foot in front of the other to make her way to the living room. A distant chatter gave Martha reason to believe that the little party had suddenly grown and more company had arrived in her absence.
Before she traveled too far, Martha turned back to the kitchen to retrieve the plate of cookies she had served to accompany the tea. A quick glance told her that the plate was no longer on the table. Glory must have already thought of this little amenity. My goodness but her sister was quick to think of everything. That was Glory. Always the one with the sharp wit and hostess attitude.
Martha’s mind raced through an overwhelming assault of cinematic images. The time Glory arranged her own birthday party in the garden, complete with petit flours and mint juleps. And that awful fiasco of Martha’s engagement party when her future mother-in-law had been omitted from the guest list. Even with potential wrath Bob’s mother, it had been a lovely affair. Martha giggled at the memory and then was suddenly overcome with a bitter taste of sadness. She should have known then that the marriage would be an immense challenge.
Voices from the other room brought Martha back to the present and she turned slowly against the wall, hoping that her sister had collected the delicately painted party glasses that she liked to use for company.
But if course she had, Martha silently told herself. Glory thought of everything.
Making her way carefully toward the party, Martha smiled with anticipation. She so loved a party of all of her favorite lady friends. This was going to be such a treat.
Bobby Grove’s cell phone signaled his wife’s ring tone just as he put the finishing touches on the end of the work week. It had been a busy week, but all was accomplished and he could joyfully set his job side for the weekend. He was in a hurry to get home and start the festivities of a much deserved time of relaxation. He and Lila were going to their cabin in the mountains. Without children. Without stress. Just the two of them for three days of camp fires and togetherness. He might fish a bit and Lila would surely take a stack of magazines. It was their favorite thing to do on spring weekends.
When he didn’t immediately answer the phone, Bobby decided that he would wait until he got in his car and call back. His wife probably wanted him to pick up a few things for their trip.
As he locked the office door and checked his back pocket to make sure his wallet was with him, the phone once again began jangling in his hand. Bobby smiled to himself as he imagined Lila anxiously hopping from one foot to another. Impatience was not her virtue.
“Hey, Babe, I…”
“Bobby! You have to get home NOW. No, I mean, meet me at your mother’s house. And hurry!”
The phone went silent before Bobby could utter a reply.
Recently his mother had seemed so much better. She was lonely, he knew, and her frequent calls to the house sometimes became a bit much; but mostly old age had been relatively good to Martha Groves. She was an independent woman. She had raised three sons by herself after the early demise of her husband. And she done fine. Bobby and his brothers never wanted for anything that Martha couldn’t provide.
This was so very unlike Lila.
Something bad must have happened to spur this unexpected call.
The pretty living room was empty when Martha entered. The cookies were not there and Glory was gone.
Voices continued to speak, but no one was in the room.
The floral print sofa held only the tasteful assortment of throw cushions that Martha carefully arranged every morning. A fresh arrangement of spring lilacs from Martha’s flower bed sat perfectly on the coffee table in the middle of the room. Everything was perfectly arranged and picturesque.
Then Martha noticed that she had left a lightweight afghan draped over her favorite recliner and her scuffed house slippers were placed askew on the floor as if she had just walked out of them.
“Oh, my,” Martha said to the empty room. “I left a mess.”
Tears trickled out of her eyes and down the parchment texture of her face.
“Glory, I’m sorry! I’m sorry I didn’t straighten the room.”
Had her sister and the other company been insulted enough to leave? She hadn’t meant to ruin Martha’s party.
She must go find them and apologize.
When Bobby Groves steered his shiny red Lexus down Main Avenue, he initially didn’t understand what he was seeing. The comfortable street had been the safe haven of his childhood, but its inhabitants had grown old and the sounds of childhood play were simply a memory. It was a very rare sight to encounter residents walking on the sidewalk.
And that is what stopped Bobby’s assent.
The lone woman was shoe less and obviously distraught. She appeared to be calling out to someone as she reeled unsteadily down the middle of the tree lined street. When she finally saw his car, the woman became more agitated and began waving her arms wildly in his direction.
“Bob! Bob, I am so glad you’re home. You must help me find them. Glory and the girls were here and now they’re upset about my slippers and they left! Help me, Bob!”
Bob. That was his father’s name. No one called him Bob. He had been Bobby all his life.
It was happening again.
His mother, Martha Groves, was disappearing right before his eyes.
It's rough. It's just a snippet of maybe a larger story. I don't know. We'll see. I forgot about my own health issues for a while and I see that as a good thing. there is always someone out there who needs more attention than I.
It is not all about me, me, me.
Have a good day,
Common indications of dementia:
1. Short term memory loss
3. Communication difficulties
4. Inability to understand sarcasm
5. Mood changes
6. Loss of function
7. Loss of interest
8. Repetitive behavior
9. Difficulties coping with change
10. Frequent falls
Common indications of alzheimers:
1. Memory Loss
2. Employment problems
3. Daily life confusion
4. Vision problems
5. Fine motor skills
6. Trouble speaking
7. Loosing items
8. Poor judgment
10. Decreased activities