It’s here again. That strangled feeling. That desire to shake Mom off me. To push her away. To forcefully seize and hold just two feet of personal space of my own; erect an invisible barrier that prevents her from encroaching on me, burying me alive with her needs, her sadness.
I want to run. Flee. Take big gulps of freedom in my mouth and spew them in her face. Scream at her “You can’t drag me down with you! You can’t anchor me to your anguish. I won’t fill myself with your fears just so you have someone to keep you company in YOUR misery! I won’t do it!”
I hate days like this. For both of us. My depleted care giving resources aren’t her fault, and while I skillfully hide my resentment, I think it’s subconsciously detected. She is, after all, my mother. She literally made me. She then spent her lifetime shaping who I am now. I believe even if she can’t identify in her mind the difference in my actions, she can still sense in her bones when my outward is inwardly false.
But luckily, these days don’t happen often, and help is on the way. The Other Girl will be here this afternoon to take her off my hands for a couple of days, and an SOS out to friends for bawdy, crass companionship has been answered. Tonight there will be laughing, there will be bitching, there will be beer, lots and lots of beer, and then tomorrow morning there will be a renewed sense of purpose, a replenished reservoir of love, patience, and humor.
And once again, I will be able to carry her heart in my heart.
Mom was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2010. Dad vowed to keep his sweetheart at home and take care of her until the day she died, and my sister and I believed him because he’s that kind of man. As it turns out he’s also the kind of man to die of pancreatic cancer. Suddenly. With little time for us to do anything except promise him that we would take up the baton and continue the race as Mom’s full-time care partners.
It’s been two years of marathoning with Mom and her dementia. And while she’s busy forgetting most of what she knew, we’re learning a thing or two about the hilarity of accepting the unacceptable, about teamwork between two very different sisters, and about care giving tips and tricks. So, I vomit up all my care partner words in a fervent hope that it will strengthen my resolve and further my commitment to this exasperating, hilarious, heartbreaking, and gratifying journey, and to share and learn from others marching down the same road.