Thursday, May 13, 2010

The stuff of dreams

I just got off the phone with Mom.

She managed to get one of the aides at the assisted living facility where she now lives to call me. She was hysterical. It took a few minutes for me to calm her and find out why she was upset.

"I feel so lost and alone," she sobbed.

The journey continues, my Mom moving deeper into a fog that will one day cloak her very being. But for this moment, her tears have washed away the haze and she finds herself adrift, living in a home with strangers, the "stuff" of her life now reduced to all that can fit into one small room -- a bed, chair, nightstand and lamp, a clock, dresser and handful of precious photos.

I find myself soothing her, telling her all will be okay, that her family is nearby and thinking of her constantly.

"I just don't know," she says, "I just don't know how much longer I can take this."

And again I offer up the words a father whispers to his frightened daughter, the world now turned upside down as this disease makes the parent the child and the child the parent.

"It'll be okay ... I love you ... It'll be okay."

But it isn't okay and it certainly isn't fair. Life has become a dark place for my Mom, shadows pushing aside the light, tears the only remaining link with all that she was and all that she can recall.

After asking her to let me talk with one of the aides at her "home," she mumbles a melancholy good-bye and hangs up the phone.

It takes three calls to finally reach someone in the "Memory Care" unit, the laughingly euphemistic term this home uses for its dementia wing.

"Oh, she's fine," the aide tells me. "She had dinner and spent time in the living area ... she's fine."

No. Not really. My mother is many things right now. But fine is not one of them. Once upon a time she was the sweet, young girl in the photo above, her hopes and dreams spilling into a future that would play out over decades. And then she blinked and even the memories of all that was have become a distant dream.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which is inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
is rounded with a sleep.


  1. Oh, Ron. I'm so sorry. I'm in a similar place with my mom, who has been sliding away into dementia for many years. My prayers are with you.
    Alice Murray

  2. Ron,
    I followed Elisson's link over here.

    I just ended a similar journey with my Mom & Dad. They both ended up with dementia. It's a rough road, believe me.

    Writing on a blog is a great stress reliever. Looks like you're off to a fine start. Keep up the good work!

  3. My own mother's dementia came on far more quickly -- brain cancer. Honestly, I don't think there's any easy when it comes to watching one's aging parent slip away.

    It does help to know that you've got people praying for you -- even ones you haven't met before, and the blogosphere will blow you away with how many of those there are.

    Welcome to the intarwebs. Any friend of Elisson's is a friend of mine.