There is more to "coming home" from a vacation than unpacking, doing all the laundry (and trust me, with no access to laundry facilities, EVERYTHING, even the things you hadn't worn yet, smells!), and restocking the kitchen because you tried to run out of everything before you left, so nothing would go bad while you were gone.
Everyone had told me I could put my concerns for my mother behind me while we were gone and I didn't really think I would do that. I still sent her e-mails every day (which she forgot receiving) and I was worried about her, but it wasn't until I walked into her apartment on Sunday to have the same conversation that we have been having every day for the last couple of years, that I realized that I really had put all that aside and had managed to have a "Mother vacation" after all.
I went and saw her yesterday for awhile and brought some postcards to show her, and brought her toilet paper (how she managed to go through five rolls of paper while we were gone, I don't know!). She was also out of ice cream, I noticed and she said she needed paper towels, so today I got those for her yesterday and planned to deliver them today.
I'm still having jet lag, I guess. I don't think of it as jet lag, but I do nap a lot and I managed to fall asleep around 1, waking at 3, with a start, and realizing how late it was. I considered skipping today, but I had all the stuff to take to her, so I literally staggered out to the car. I was still half asleep when I pulled up at Atria, though the chat with the girl at the front desk (who has never heard of Istanbul) helped wake me up, and off I staggered to my mother's apartment
The problem was, I think, that she had been sleeping too and was as groggy as I was when she answered the door.
So there we were, two groggy people, one with dementia, trying to have a coherent conversation.
In my cheeriest voice, I said that tomorrow was our big day, the day we go to the Brain Gym again. She said she's not going to go. She hates it. She doesn't need any help because her brain is fine and she realizes I'm trying to help her, but she is never going to go there again. So...so much for help with her brain, which apparently is just fine. I'm disappointed. I thought that was going to be our "thing," going to the brain gym and then to lunch, but it was only my thing. Time to give up and let her just deteriorate.
The ironic thing, which she would never see if I pointed it out to her, was that when her mother-in-law moved into an Atria-like facility my mother spent years so frustrated with her because the facility offered so many opportunities for her, but she refused to interact with people and all she did for years was sit in her room asking why she was still alive and wishing to die. But if I pointed that out to her, she would not see that she is doing exactly the same thing.
There is a birthday dinner for all with September birthdays coming up and I asked if she was going to go to it. She just looked at me like I was crazy. Go interact with other birthday folks? WhyEVer would she do that?
Ed had been there yesterday, apparently and brought up the last of her stuff, in boxes, on a cart, with a note that it was for me.
You would not believe what happened.
She slouched in her chair, glowered toward the boxes and said "Stuff," with all the venom she used to use for "all this crap" in her house. She said she didn't know what was in the boxes and I said I didn't either, but when I took them home, if there was anything I thought she wanted, I'd bring it to her.
Then she said something like: "Well, when I moved here, you told me to just leave everything behind and I did. You said I wouldn't be needing it. But how do I know there's nothing in those boxes I might need?" She then suggested that we go through a box a day to make sure she didn't need anything.
I told her that the thing that botherted her most about her old house was all the "stuff" in it and that she hadn't needed any of it for the past four months, so she obviously didn't need anything that was in any of the boxes.
She got very huffy and said I didn't understand what it was like to leave it all behind and that she really felt she needed to check the boxes to find out if there was anything she really wanted. I pointed out that even if there was, she had nowhere to put it in her new apartment. I was very, very angry with Ed for putting me in this position when he could have let me know he was coming and delivered these boxes to my house.
She then got very angry because I was keeping her from her stuff. But as I have said before, there is an up side to dementia. I tried to find a subject to talk about other than the big pile of boxes in her room and she was easily distracted. But I really needed to be out of there, and I definitely needed to get rid of those boxes or she would have them all opened in no time.
When I got to the car and started loading them, I realized that they were all boxes of photos, the photos I told Ed to just throw out because I had no place for. When I called him later, he told me that they looked like they might mean something to someone and he couldn't bear to throw them away.