I usually go out and visit my mother on Thursdays. I do this because by the time Thursday rolls around I have some free time and am not rushed while visiting. I’ve also worked through most of the challenges of my week and am in a better place mentally to spend time with her.
Visiting my mother has been a crapshoot for years. She’s been delusional for a long time, probably longer than we’ve noticed. She can also be lucid, sometimes at the same time. Her delusions, for the most part take place in the past. She knows who I am, who my children are, who my brother is and who his children are. If a friend of hers visited her, even if she hadn’t seen them in decades, she would know them and be able to interact with them just fine.
Some of her delusions are static – she believes my brother works for the government in some sort of spy capacity. Usually he works for the Army, but he is also in the CIA and is an “operative”. I, on the other hand, am the speech writer for President Trump, a “fact” that she hates and yet at the same time is quite proud of me for achieving. Sometimes she thinks I am also an “operative”.
My brother and I have been advised that it is best not to correct her, go along with her stories as long as they don’t seem to cause her distress. So that’s what we do. The problem with this is that there are so many holes in her stories and it’s very easy to get caught up in a lie. Being an “operative” is convenient since all either of needs to say when she needs confirmation of one of her “facts” is a “Mom, you know I can not confirm, nor deny that”.
Today was a typical visit for the most part. Mom was lucid, but sad. She said she was bored, that her foot hurt and that she missed my father and just wanted to be with him. He died 12 years ago and her pain and anguish over his death hasn’t subsided at all. It’s heartbreaking.
Today was no different, when she started talking about missing my father, she started crying, crying like she did when he first died – sobbing, unable to speak, the kind of guttural emotion that only comes from a deep and profound loss. Heartbreaking.
I asked if there was anything I could do, she asked for a hug, which I gave but it didn’t seem to help. I tried to distract her and get her to join me in a stroll down memory lane, but she wasn’t having it. She just wanted to cry. So I waited while she did.
She talked of dying, like she usually does, how she wanted to so she could be with him. She feels badly about this, she feels like she is letting me and my brother down by wanting to die. This is a woman who has managed to go on despite actually dying once, being mentally and physically handicapped, losing the love of her life and who has been in bed for the last 12 years. There’s nothing she could do to let me down.
Once she calmed down, and we discussed Trump, I told her I had to leave. She was going to have lunch and I had to get back to work. She asked me to turn on the radio so she could listen before an aid came in to take her to the dining room. I did, and kissed her goodbye.
As I was walking out the door she asked me if she’d ever shared the story of the third baby she had when we lived in Denver.
When my mother got sick back in 1970, in Denver, she woke from her coma thinking she was in the hospital because she’d had a third child. It took a while to convince her that she was not in the hospital having a baby. Eventually she came to believe the truth. She shared this story with me several times when I was growing – that she thought she’d had a child, but did not.
Apparently she did not actually believe that she hadn’t had a child. For the last several visits, at least since before the holidays, she’s been talking about how she had daughter who lived in Denver and was a huge success.
The story sort of trailed off from there because she didn’t know anything else and had not confabulated it yet.
Today, as I was leaving, she informed me that the daughter she had in Denver, my younger sister, was not in fact a daughter, but was actually a son who is Barry Manilow.
I agreed with her, hugged her, and walked out.