Sunday, September 9, 2012

Am I Muddying the Water?

The Bible says, 2 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: ‘You are like a lion among the nations; you are like a monster in the seas thrashing about in your streams, churning the water with your feet and muddying the streams. Ezekiel 32:2 NIV

The daughters loaded up and left today.  With them went … happiness, I suppose you’d say.  Yes that’s it, happiness.  While they are here, I feel happy; tired, worn out, ready to have my house back, ready to not wash so many dishes, ready to take a nap if I want, but happy all the same.  Now that they are gone, I am alone to deal with my feeling, or lack thereof, for my dementia inflicted mother.  I love my mother, I hate my mother. I feel nothing for my mother.  Somehow in her dementia fog, she knows it.  She keeps saying things like, “honey if I’ve done something to upset you…” 
I look at her with my best practiced confused look and say, “Mom, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  And I either get up off the couch to go do something, like it’s the most important things I need to do at this very moment, or I pick up my Kindle and begin reading, like this is so much more important that talking to her about this “misunderstanding?”  In reality even if I discussed it with her, reassured her I am not upset about anything, which I’m not really, I just don’t enjoy interacting with her, talking to her.  Partly because of the dementia, partly because I just don’t feel like talking to her.  The dementia has reduces her ability to converse to topical, cliché, canned conversations anyway, but even if I did reassure her I was not upset and went into great lengths explaining how I am not upset, she wouldn’t remember my explanation nor the conversation in a few minutes and would probably start the whole thing over again in a few hours. And I really do not like having the exact same conversation about the same subject which I did not want to discuss in the first place.
Yes, I could take the time to reassure her I was not upset with her and that I love her, and in a few hours, she’d say, “Honey, I don’t know what I’ve done to upset you, but I want to tell you I’m sorry.”  For one thing, that’s not an apology.  I hate it when people apologize by saying, “If I did anything wrong, I’m sorry” because that means to me, “I did not do anything wrong but apparently you are mad at me for nothing so I will tell you I’m sorry and you will feel better and be nice to me.”  Yeah, well that doesn’t make me feel better or want to be nice to you.  It makes me madder because you obviously to do recognize what you did or acknowledge your responsibility for what you did.  Either way, you are not apologizing, you are “making nice” and that doesn’t do it for me.
But I say, “Mom, I don’t know what you’re talking about?” 
”Well, I don’t either, but I thought I said something that upset you.”
“Like what?”
“I don’t know, I thought I said something … silly”
“Well, I don’t think you did.  Maybe you had a dream and thought you said something…But you did not and I’m not upset”
“Well, ok then” she says, maybe ready to put it to rest.
“Ok.” Lord, I hope we are done with this.
And then the next day she will be sitting on the couch watching her favorite TV Channel which has Gun Smoke and Bonanza reruns.  I will have just sat down from puttering around the house, doing whatever needs to be done, like dishes, laundry, straightening up, or checking my e-mail, and she’ll say, “Honey, I wanted to talk to you…”
Oh God here we go again!
I look at Paul for help, but he just gives me a blank glance up from his computer in which he is vehemently playing solitaire, since he’s seen the Gun Smoke episode so many times he could recite every line not to mention it’s not his nor my favorite TV channel.  It’s on that channel for mom and mom alone.
“If there’s anything I’ve said or done.” She starts in.
“Mom, this is the third day you’ve said something about this.  There is nothing that you did or said.  We are alright.” Mic check. Mic check 1…, 2…, 3..., God I hope I don’t sound harsh!  “I think you dreamed this and now you are confused. Don’t worry about it.”
Lord help me love my mother, comfort her, just be nice toward her!
In my mind, I see me putting my arm around her shoulder and comforting her and she feels much better.  But outside of my mind, in my physical reality, I just cannot do it.  So I pick up my Kindle and begin reading, or go outside and check on the tomato plants.  Very important thing I must go do right now, I’ll be back.  Pull some unwanted grass, count how many tomatoes are currently formed and wish I could be a better person toward my mom.  I walk back in the house and tell mom there are three tomatoes and I can’t wait for them to ripen up.
She sounds happy when she responds agreement to the idea that the tomatoes will be wonderful once they are ripe!  She seems happy again.  Thank god.