Mom went home home from rehab. Dad put in a stairlift, got a wheelchair and an aide to come a few hours a week. We settled into a new reality. Dad dressed mom, made her meals, cleaned her. I occasionally went to babysit mom so he could go work. It was mentally exhausting, but I was doing my part. Then mom became worse. Aggressive. Violent. 911 calls. Paramedic visits. A couple of ER visits to try and get her calmed down. All her violence was directed at Dad. Mom is now in a psychiatric geriatric facility while they work out her medication. Then she will transfer to an Alzheimer's assisted living facility where she will live out her days.
It's been a confusing and difficult time. I have been focusing on the more practical realities -- insurance, healthcare, schedules. I've spent way too much time reading medical articles about stroke and about Alzheimer's. I've pored over information about Medicare and VA benefits. I've had 100s of phone calls from assisted living facilities who are sure they are a good fit for our family.
What I haven't done, or done well, is deal with the emotional upheaval. While I love my mother, I don't like her. I haven't felt kinship or fondness or respect or any of the countless things other people seem to feel for their moms. I am fairly sure that mom has been mentally ill my entire life. She clearly suffered from depression, and was plagued by numerous health issues both real and imagined. My job was to be her companion, servant, prop. And I was supposed to make her happy. It wasn't all bleak; when mom was happy, which happened rarely, we had good times. But I always wished for a real relationship with her.
Now that isn't going to happen. I knew that before, but now the possibility is gone. And I apparently was holding onto that possibility somewhere in the background of my mind. Mom isn't mom. She is a sad old lady who has no idea how old she is, where she is, what she had for breakfast. Large chunks of her life are gone, replaced by delusions that are more real to her.
I am left with sadness, and with pity. In some ways we get along better now. I can treat her like I would treat any elderly stranger, with kindness and as much patience as I have. This person is not my mom and I am not her daughter.