The quirky sense of humor which enables me to find something to laugh about in almost all things usually serves me well and keeps my mood from becoming stormy.
But sometimes it deserts me just when I need it most.
For the past five years, I’ve been watching dementia take my mother piece by piece. I’ve watched from 2500 miles away, seeing her every few months. On some of those trips I’d notice no great change and on others, I’d see one more loss.
I just returned from a visit and the decline since I saw her last is huge. Though she does still recognize my sister and me, her speech is almost gone, and the sounds she makes are primal. She can parrot back a few words, but I have no idea if she knows what she is saying. She no longer walks but is in a wheelchair, and she can’t keep herself from sliding sideways or down in the chair.
She is a frail shell that no longer houses the woman we knew as our mother.
Dementia is a demon disease, possessing each part of the human body, mind and spirit until there is nothing left but that shell.
She would hate this. Always fiercely independent and private, she now has strangers changing her diapers. A woman who prided herself on her appearance now has false teeth that slip and a missing tooth on the bottom. Those things can’t be fixed because she could not tolerate a dentist appointment.
Even with my sometimes inappropriate humor and as much as I tried, I could find nothing to lighten my mood. I’m just sad.
She has outlived her life.
Each time I leave her, I say goodbye. This time, I whispered that I’d see her on the other side. For her sake, I hope the other side comes soon.