Very raw and very real…

Today is my mom’s 82nd birthday. It is the first one in my lifetime I don’t get to spend with her. And it hurts. Deeply. And yes, I am trying to write this as tears are streaming down my face.

I am an emotional person. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes it’s as if everyone around me is so strong and has no emotions. Or, they don’t show their emotions like I do. I am transparent. I cry. ALL. THE. TIME. I honestly can’t help it. I try to be strong. I try to brave, but all of this…everything that has happened in the last couple of month…hurts. Bad. To put it bluntly, I feel as if my parents have died yet they are still here. It is an eerie feeling and one that is hard to explain.

mom and dad 1

The photo above is such a great representation of who my parents were – a happy, loving couple who were so unbelievably devoted to each other. They were the picture of true love. And now, even though they are both alive, their existence as a couple is gone. They are no longer Red and Lee. He is Red. And she is Lee. Truly, it feels like they were forced to divorce. To separate without any say in the matter. Again, I am blunt…it sucks. Big time.

People who know me know I am as raw and real as it gets. I put it all out there. I don’t hide much of anything and I don’t plan to hide what is going on with my parents. Besides crying, there are other ways I deal with my emotions – running and writing. It feels good to get my emotions and my feelings written down with words. It is soothing sometimes. It is my therapy. And running, well, what can I say about running. It is one of the best stress relievers for me. Because of everything that has, and is happening, I haven’t been able to run hardly at all. And some of my runs have been horrible, while some have been great. But that is the JOY of running. Truly.

jump for joy

This was actually after a great run and it was the first time I have worn shorts this year. I was little excited about that and a little relieved from my stress for about six miles. I tuned everything out and just focused on my run. I had to escape reality for just a little bit. And it felt good.

Back to my parents. My role models. My idols. Two people whom I love with all my heart and soul. Yes, I may have complained about them from time to time because that is what normal children do. I know my son complains about me. And maybe I complained too much. Maybe, at times, they did feel like a burden. I can’t lie. It always seemed like they needed me when I was “busy” with my life. They needed me, it seemed, at what I thought and felt were the most inopportune times. And yes, I would get annoyed. But, I was ALWAYS there for them. And I always will be. Any maybe, just maybe, I won’t get as annoyed anymore.

I know we shouldn’t have regrets in life, but looking back over the past couple of years, I maybe regret that I wasn’t there for them more or that I let it annoy me as much as I did when they needed me. Because right now, I would give anything if my “normal” mom called me and wanted me to do something for her – buy her chapstick, get my dad some apple juice, fix their computer, fix their TV, whatever. Right now, it would make my day. But that life, as I know it, is gone and done. It is over. Again, I feel like I have lost my parents. It hurts.

mom and dad 6

Those smiles could light up a room. They were and ARE loved by so many people. They have touched so many lives. Mine included.

So, what is REALLY going on with my mom and dad. Well, dad has Alzheimer’s and was diagnosed with that about a year ago and mom has Dementia. Wait, what? Aren’t they the same thing? No. They are not.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks, according to alz.org, the Alzheimer’s Organization.

Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example and Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia, according to the same website.

Check out this link for more information about Alzheimer’s. Click HERE.

Check out this link for more information about Dementia. Click HERE.

After my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I researched it a lot and I also watched the story on Glen Campbell, the country-western singer I grew up listening to. You know, he was the Rhinestone Cowboy! Click HERE for a link to the Facebook page for the movie, I”ll Be Me, which is the story of his Alzheimer’s journey. It was touching and heart-wrenching and of course I bawled my eyes out, but it was so worth watching.

With my mom, everything happened so quickly. Or so we thought. Looking back, there may have been signs and symptoms, but we didn’t see them because we were focused on my dad. We thought my mom had it all together, when in reality, she probably didn’t.

Dad’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was easy – or easier – to accept because of who he was and still is, for the most part. Yes, he repeats the same stories over and over and over and over. Yes, he forgets things, people, places, events, etc. But he seems “normal.” He is still himself. He is still MY dad. Loving. Funny. Shy. Quiet. Meek. Mild. Yes, he has bouts of anger, but they maybe last 10 minutes. If that. And yes, there have been words that have spewed out of his mouth that I never thought I would ever hear from him. BUT, he is repeating what was said to him. I get that. I understand what is happening with my dad. I truly do. I accept it.

But with my mom, I don’t. I am struggling real hard with what is going on. I can’t wrap my head around it. It isn’t real. I joke about it what is happening. I laugh sometimes. But deep down, it is disturbing and I can’t accept what is happening. I feel as if someone has switched her with someone else. She is not herself. She is not still MY mom. And truly, it hurts. And I just want my mom back. I want the mom I used to know. I want the mom that annoys the piss out of me. I want the mom that is loving, funny, kind, gentle, friendly and so much more. I want the mom that sings, that write songs, that makes people – makes me – happy. Sadly, I know that mom is gone and that is the hard part. She disappeared so quickly.

mom and dad 4

I want these two people back. The couple who have been married for 48 years.

mom and dad 5

And I want these two people back. Who loved their family so very much.

mom and dad 3

And, I even want these two people back. The funny, goofy ones who always made others laugh and feel so very loved.

I feel so very bad for them, for both of them. My dad is confused and doesn’t know really know what is happening. He keeps repeating that mom is in a hospital three miles south of here and she’ll be back in three days. He doesn’t understand that he will probably never get to be with his wife again, the woman he catered to, the woman he devoted his life to, the woman he loved with every ounce of his being. But I guess I have to be honest, as much as that is devastating to know, it is a blessing because it would break his heart. It would destroy him to know the real truth.

He is all settled into his new home at Edgewood Vista, a home he lives with by himself. He appears to be adjusting just fine; better than I or my siblings expected. Each day I visit, he has a smile on his face and seems to be happy. And that makes my heart happy. All we want for him is to be comfortable and to be happy. And he is. I guess.

As for my mom. Well, there is so much that could be said, so many details that would make you maybe understand a little more, but she wouldn’t want everyone to know what is really happening. Like I said earlier, she is not my mom. She is someone different. She is someone who cusses and swears like a sailor (I will spare you the words, phrases and sentences that have came out of her mouth). She lives in another world. She has escaped reality. She does things and says things that are hurtful and mean. She does things and says things that are beyond bizarre. My mom is gone. Plain and simple. And I fear we won’t get her back. Not back to who she once was. As much as I and my family have joked that she is off in la-la land, it is the truth. And yes, the truth, even though it may appear funny, hurts like hell. It stabs you in your heart with a pain that won’t go away.

At this point, like I said, they have labeled her as having Dementia. We don’t know which type as of it, as there are numerous types. She is on meds including anti-psychotic and anti-depression. We feel she is being cared for, looked out for and taken care of properly. She is where she needs to be for now. We are not sure how long she will be in the senior care mental health unit of the Mille Lacs Health Care system in Onamia, but it may be awhile. We thought she was maybe ready to come home to a nursing home, but apparently not. We will know more this week.

For now, please keep my mom and dad in your thoughts and prayers. And please wish my mom a very happy birthday today. She deserves it.

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12 thoughts on “Very raw and very real…

  1. Celeste, I am so sorry you are going through this. It is hard when the roles in life reverse, and you become the “parent” to your parents. One of the hardest things I have ever done was to smile and calmly explain to my mother what her last name was. She even asked me to write it down so she wouldn’t forget. I cried for an hour after that.

    Please be strong around them, shower them with love no matter what is said, and remember that even though they don’t “remember” it, they do know it in their hearts.

    Praying for you, Al, your family, and your mom and dad. May God bless you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Celeste – my heart goes out to you. My Dad spent 3.5 years in the nursing home with Lewy Body Dimentia. He was confined to a wheelchair, couldn’t care for himself. I so can relate to what you are going through. Losing your parent before they are gone. My Mom has her mind most times but her body is giving out. It’s so hard – we cry – we’re exhausted but the one thing I wouldn’t trade is the precious time in these last years spent with them in whatever form. Dave’s dad is in the nursing home & most times is angry when we do catch him awake. We helped move him into the home so he is not very receptive of us. We still go & let him know we care. It’s heartbreaking most especially for his Mom. Yes – run- write – care for yourself – stay healthy & strong. More friends than you know struggle with caring for parents in their last days even years. Just know you are not alone – we will send you positive energy. You are doing the best you can with a bad situation. I am glad your Mom & Dad have you & your siblings…. strength to you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Celeste, my heart aches for you. I have some of the same things going on with my mother. Those with dementia can hide it for a period of time. They are great at it. What’s sad is they live in their denial, hiding becasue they are there for us? When it’s uncovered it’s so unbelievable they could hide the realaity of it for so long and it’s like a bomb just went off. I pray for you and your family to move forward and live each day with the simple pleasures of loving them for who they are now. Being there now knowing what they are going through is the best gift you can give them HUGS!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Many, many tears were shed reading your blog. You are so good at words, ME, not so much, but I am going to share a visit I had with my mom before she passed. She was living in a wonderful private home with the best caregiver anybody would has. Every week on my days off my sister and I would go pick her up and go out for lunch and then drag her with us to go shopping. She never was anything but pleasant to be with and we never saw the outburst and behavior that she was famous for in the home she lived. Not all the time but there were incidents. (So we were told) One day after a very nice day of good food and visiting, I took her to her home, got her inside and into her favorite chair, every thing seemed to be very normal. When I went to give her a hug and kiss good-bye, she grabbed me by the arm and said,” take me with you” I explained that I couldn’t because I had to work, she said” I’ll just stay at your house” I replied I didn’t have a bed for her, she said” I’ll sleep on the floor, please don’t leave me here” well after a lot of trying to explaining, I got to my car and started to drive home( back to the campground) Tears rolling down my face I called Jim, he’s doesn’t have his phone with him. So I called Rod, and I’m not sure what he thought when his mother was crying and could hardly tell the story. But he’s a great listener and listened to me for 30 miles. Bless his heart. So this story is getting a lot longer than I intended but just want you to know i feel what you are feeling and I’m so sorry you are going through this in some form with both parents. It’s a lot of stress to be under. So please take care of yourself and if u ever want someone to JUST LISTEN just whistle . Xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My heart aches for you..I cried reading the entire thing. Beautifully written, heartbreaking as ever! Praying ALL of you up. Sending my strength and hugs…..much love

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Celeste, it is so hard to experience what happens to our parents as they age. I feel so bad that you are going through such a bad time. It is so sad they are not going to be living in the same place. I am praying for you family every day. Try to remember the good times.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing these difficult events that you, your parents, and your entire family are experiencing. Thank you also for sharing the difference between Alzheimers and Dementia. My mother had dementia, though one of my brothers continues to say she had Alzheimer’s though it is not true. It annoys me tremendously for some reason that he has “labeled” her illness incorrectly. It was so difficult to see this intelligent woman, this woman who truly managed her household, get to a point where she couldn’t pay a simple bill. She got to a point where she cursed like a sailor (even more so than usual) and said such hurtful things.There too are other details to my Mom’s story that she would not want shared.

    Again, thank you for sharing. Your sharing helped me to know that others have similar experiences. Wishing you strength and peace

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It has to be braking your heart to see this happening to not one but both at the same time.
    They were devoted to each other and now its like it never happen so sad and so hard to except. We are glad we were able to spend some time with them last year. We were going to come to MN in the fall but they may not even know who I am. We will pray for you and the family, and hope for a miracle that Aunty comes out of what ever it is that has her trapped.

    Liked by 1 person

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