So, I guess this really is the first day of the rest of my life – retirement! It’s been a long time since my last post, as I’ve been wrapping up my work life at LBL ESD. This change is definitely bittersweet – I love the people I worked with, but I’ve also felt the stress of navigating between work life, home life and the world of Alzheimer’s. Over time I’ve let “little deals” become “big deals” and lost perspective on normal happenings that occur on any given day. When I was able to look back, I couldn’t imagine why I’d made such a big deal about “it.” I’m hopeful that I’ll get back into balance soon!
The first morning of retirement: No alarm clock, but woke up at the usual time – about 6:00 am. I stayed in bed a bit longer and then headed over to my mom’s with Judi. Mama was “with us” a little more this morning, meaning she smiled and initiated some conversation.
She stared at Judi’s long hair, which hangs down to her waist, and said to me, “look.” At what, I say and she points to Judi’s hair and says, “beautiful.” Then as Judi was helping her eat, my mom said to her, “you’re so pretty.” What a precious thing for Judi to hear from her mother!
We see the changes – not so subtle now. She is often staring out at a distance, far, far away from us and her immediate surroundings. I’ll say to her, “mama, look at me,” and she will turn and look into my eyes. Most times she doesn’t say anything. Sometimes I’ll say, “I love you, mama,” and she repeats back to me, “I love you, mama.”
Since we started this journey I’ve often wondered how it would be for me when my mom got to this point – the point of not knowing me. If such a thing is possible, I believe I’ve been gradually getting myself ready for this day without even knowing it. I have strong support at home, new friends sharing similar experiences and endless books to read and absorb. Deep down inside of me, I believe the most important thing I can do for my mom right now is to be there for her. “Being there” means a soft touch, reassuring her when anxious, singing to her, feeding her blueberries and taking care of Smokey. Life right now is not about her knowing or not knowing me. As long as my mom knows this nice lady comes to visit her everyday, that is good enough for me.