Sunday, August 22, 2010

Taking Mom for a ride and screaming inside

Getting Mom out has become a character building experience for me.   I try to take Mom for a ride at least once a week when I visit her home town.  I make a point to take her some place where she has good memories and ensure we have a good treat along the way.   The past few months she seems to have trouble remembering where we're going and continually asks where we are all along the way.  She marvels at things as though it's all new to her.  When I tell her where we are she replies, "Really??!!  I'd never have known; it's so different."  I'm left wondering, "Different from WHAT?"  

I suppose she is beginning to remember the familiar streets of town as it was decades ago - really, she's FORGETTING many things about her town and region.  She remembers buildings and landmarks that are long gone.  As we drive she gives me a running commentary about how staying in her "coop" makes her forget and how much things have changed.   It's a constant thing when we go out now and it's making me nuts!!   However, I NEVER let her know it's making me crazy.  Though I'm screaming inside, "YOU SAID THAT ALREADY!...and you said it last time and the time before that, can't you just accept it??!!!!"   I don't say a word to her about it.   I speak slowly and deliberately so that I don't have so much as a negative tone in my voice.   I calmly explain the changes she sees and I make excuses to make her feel better. 

She realizes that things have changed a lot and this makes her wonder about her own memory. She says, "Have I really forgotten that much?" I try to make her feel better with excuses about how quickly things change these days; how little she gets out and how much she has to remember after all of her 90 years.   I remind her that she remembers MORE than many, many people - often ME included.  Then I try to change the subject and ask her about something that I know will bring back good memories.  Most of the time, she tells me some story that I've heard by this time but now and then she reveals a gem - something that she and dad did together or some funny story about family or friends.   The new stories alone are worth sitting through a lot of rambling.     I'll continue to take her for drives and listen to the stories - old and new - because it's good for both of us.  I've not been the most patient person throughout my life so this is good practice I suppose but mainly it's good for my Mom. She needs the change of scenery and to relive the good memories we find along the route.