Since my mom moved to her new digs around the corner from me, a lot of incredible things have been happening. These days my mom is pretty much non-verbal, except for the occasional one or two-word response, so it is pretty hard to tell what she gets or comprehends. I was preparing for a rocky transition when she moved because that was what her doctor told me to expect. It was explained to me that anytime you take a person with my mom’s condition away from their regular everyday surroundings and place them in a new environment, it causes stress and anxiety and we were all buckling up for a challenging transition. I was anticipating lots of pacing and all around unrest. We knew the fact that her team of caregivers, (who you will be meeting very soon) were coming from the old house was a positive aspect of this transition, however, there were a lot of unknowns and to be honest, I was scared. My stomach was in knots as I gathered her and her caregiver and transported them to the house for what would end up being her first official night in her new home.
Guess what? My mom is FANFUCKINGTASTIC! I think it is fair to say the transition was seamless. I’m not sure there was even a transition at all. Her actions and responses to certain things are how we know she is awesome. For starters, my mom hasn’t slept in her bed for nearly two years. We weren’t ever really sure why. I had decided long ago she was afraid to be alone and the sound of the t.v. in the family room gave her mind some peace, but it always bothered me. I was worried about her back and the fact that she wasn’t getting good, solid sleep. I can check that worry off of my worry list because from the moment she moved in, she has slept in her bed like a baby, every single night. Thank you, Jesus! I can hardly believe it myself, but her new sleep pattern is only one aspect of how this move has already improved her quality of life.
Her little house has been called a “beacon of hope and light” from the moment it became hers. I was drawn to it as soon as I noticed the For Sale sign. Her house has these oversized picture windows that have already proven to be more than just panes of glass. These windows have been a gift to my mom and all of us. My mom’s previous home was dark and gloomy and too many sad things had happened there. Her new home is quite literally the opposite. It is all white, inside and out and that was no accident. There is light shining through every corner of that home and those picture windows allow my mom to be engaged with the world outside her four walls. These days our mom greets us at the door. Swoon!
But that is not all. You know, when a loved one gets taken down with dementia almost instantly your roles are reversed. Your loved one becomes the child and you become the parent or the caregiver. I have been bathing and dressing my mom for the last year and there is no other way around it, it’s fucking hard. I had pretty much accepted this as my role and was prepared to never see my mom show signs of being a mom or a grandma ever again. The reality of that notion is tough. It hurts. However, since she has moved, she is different. It’s like the house has breathed a little life back into her. It has rejuvenated her in a lot of ways. She has been witnessed doing things she hasn’t done in forever. Andrea walked into her kitchen to find her putting the food on the counter back into the refrigerator. My mom was always a neat freak. Apparently, she couldn’t wait for her clothes to be put back into her closet so she went ahead and did it herself. But the moment that nearly brought me to my knees happened yesterday when I was helping my littlest niece get ready to leave. I was kneeling in front of Tori helping to zip her coat, and my mom appeared. She handed me Tori’s gym shoes after she opened them so I could help her put them on. I said, “Wow, thanks, mom.” I was quite literally stunned. In that fleeting moment, my mom and I were connected as two mothers. She saw me juggling to gather the gang and she recognized I could use a hand. That teeny tiny moment is one that I will not forget for a very long time. My mom is okay and damnit, she is still in there!
My mom is finally home and among the living. The constant life that walks through her door since she has moved back to a town she has always known and loved has reinvigorated her and all of us. Her smile is something she gifts us with more than she ever has before and for those of you that have been following this story and perhaps have been personally touched by this terrible disease, this is a message of hope. My entire family rallied around our mom, which is a testament to the kind of mother and person she is. Since then, our mom has responded to this huge change in ways I never thought possible and although she is different, she will always be a warrior to me. Never give up and never ever stop fighting for the ones you love. It is worth it and I know this because my mom feels our fierce dedication to live for her and it has in many ways given her reason to live too.