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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Daughter Without a Name, Ice Storms, & Wishing for Spring

Last weekend was a bit crazy and the week that followed wasn’t much better. I posted book reviews instead of talking about the goings on here at Mom’s. Last Sunday when the lady from church was here, she and Mom were talking about family. Mom told her that she had a sister and two brothers and her two brothers were still alive and work together. Alrighty then. Truth is, Mom had one brother and he’s been deceased for more than thirty years. Sunday, I also realized that Mom does know that I’m her daughter, but she had forgotten my name. Every day when I pick her up at day care and she sees me, she says, “There’s my daughter.” Sunday, after the lady from church left, Mom and I were talking. I figured I’d do the little memory quiz that I used to do once every couple weeks. I haven’t quizzed Mom for about two months. At least once a month I would joke with her and ask if she knows who I am and she always said, "You're my daughter." Never thought to ask her if she knew my name. I asked her birthday, address, phone number, all of which she didn’t know the answer. She did remember she was born in October, just not the day and year. I asked her how many kids she has. She did say three. That’s correct.

“What are they?” I asked.
“I think I have three boys,” she said.
I giggled and said, “If you have three boys, who am I?”
“You’re my daughter,” she said.
“Okay. So you can’t have three boys if you have a daughter, Mom.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“What are your kid’s names?”
“I think they are Bob and Ray.”
“What’s my name, Mom?”
She looked at me with such shockingly sad eyes and said, “I don’t know. What is your name?”
“Joanne. My name is Joanne, Mom.”

I knew one day Mom wouldn’t know who I am and I prepared myself for it. I guess it just shocked me that she knows I’m her daughter, but has forgotten my name. I tried to think back to when and how long it’s been since she’s called out to me by name, and I pinpointed it to mid-October when Mom was up and down half the night looking for Mr. N. She would call out to me by name back then, yelling up the steps, “Joanne, are you up there?” She hasn’t called me by name since. Mostly, I’m “her daughter” when she talks about me, and when she talks to me, I’m “honey” or I’m not addressed at all before asking something or looking for me. Wow! It very well could be that she hasn’t known my name for more than three months. We've gone through a few moments at times when she wasn't sure who I am. I've already mentioned those times. Strange, but I think I accepted the fact that she would someday not know me at all more than I accepted her not remembering my name. The two just seem to go together, but I never imagined she’d remember who I am and forget my name. Then again, she can’t understand how my daughter is her granddaughter, so I don’t think I want to ask if she understands what a daughter is. LOL

After realizing Mom didn’t know my name, the whole darn following week just kept getting worse. It was all sort of depressing, actually. I did log in long enough to post a “Happy Birthday” to my dad. That was part of the depressing week. The other part was that I felt lousy. I’m not running a fever and I don’t have a cold. I just felt tired and worn out. My muscles ached more than usual and my legs and knees are killing me. Mom may have Alzheimer’s, but she can certainly pick up on my emotions no matter how hard I try to hide them. She knew I wasn’t feeling well and she kept asking me if there was anything she could do for me. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that if she would sleep all night long it would make a world of difference in my longevity.

By the end of the week, I still wasn’t feeling any better. Thursday I just curled up on the couch and slept after taking Mom to day care. Two and I watched a movie and I trudged through the day as if I were a zombie. The weather report showed an ice storm coming through and we were supposed to get hit after midnight. Two and I prepared for not having the day together on Friday.

Friday morning I got up at the usual time. I went downstairs, let Mom’s dog out and he slid off the porch and onto the sidewalk. The porch and sidewalk were solid ice. I got the salt out and sprinkled it over the porch and sidewalk and tested the gravel drive with my foot. It was like an ice rink. These pictures don't show the ice as well as I would have liked. The bushes, power lines, absolutely everything was iced over. Nothing like you guys had in the northwest and central part of the states last month, but still scary on this hill just the same.




I called the day care and they said they were open but I had to tell them that Mom wouldn’t be coming in because we couldn’t get off our hill.

I’ll drive in a foot of snow on Mom’s driveway, but there is no way I’ll drive on ice. You’ve seen pictures of my Mom’s driveway. It’s steep and winding. It’s a beautiful site when the leaves are changing colors and the sun is shining through the clouds, but there’s no way to stop on ice, unless of course you want to slide over the 50+-foot embankment and crash to the bottom. Nope. Not me. When it’s ice, I stay home—and so does Mom.

The ice didn’t thaw from the porch, the sidewalk, the drive, the power lines, and the trees until 4:00 Friday afternoon. Then everything that thawed on Friday froze overnight and left an icy mess this morning, too. I think we may get out of here on Monday morning as long as it doesn’t rain and freeze again.

Am I wishing for spring? You’re darn right I am!

Back to reading and writing my book reviews.

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10 Comments:

Blogger ~Betsy said...

We had the ice, too. I can deal with snow but the ice is just too much. I think you did the right thing keeping mom home and hunkering down. I saw on the news this morning that there is a town in Oregon where they are dealing with 13 FEET of snow - can you imagine?

I'm sorry you aren't feeling well. It's so hard to take care of yourself when you are so exhausted from other responsibilities. Please try to take care, Joanne. ((hugs))

2/03/2008 9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom does not know my name but does talk about her "daughter" to other people. She always looks at me strange when I go in her room like she has no idea who I am but after a few minutes seems ok with whomeve I may be. She basically cannot answer any questions like the ones you ask your mom. I call her MOM but I don't think that means anything to her or cues her in anyway.
Last week she asked if I was her mom and I said no, she was my mom. She said she didn't know she was a mother. A few minutes later she asked if "this" was her mother, patting the dog. No--that's the dog I told her--she seemed surprised--the dog doesnt seem to care though.
You could'nt make this stuff up if you tried!!!!!!!

2/03/2008 12:10 PM  
Blogger nancy said...

my heart is breaking for you joanne. i can feel the sadness in your post. i remember all too well, those realizations when your parent no longer remembers you. for me, russ remembered my name after he forgot i was his daughter. i think that was only because bob and the boys (in front of my dad) would call me nancy to help cue him.

i wish there was something i could say or do to make things better for you, yet i know no one can. please know you are in my thoughts and prayer. ((((hugs)))) my friend.

try and take care of yourself as well. i know that's easier said than done. sigh.....

2/03/2008 4:01 PM  
Blogger *(·¸*Chris*¸·)* said...

I'm sorry you haven't felt well. Could you be getting a little arthritis or fibromyalgia? Your symptoms sound like mine when I flare up.

I remember my mom grasping for my name one day. We laughed about it afterward but it stung.

You've had a heck of a week. I hope this next week brings smiles and some happiness to you. Feel better soon. Gentle hugs!

2/03/2008 11:47 PM  
Blogger Lori1955 said...

I'm sorry you are feeling so down sweetie. I'm sure you know that Helen called me Hello. She only remembered my name when she was mad at me. It's hard to accept.

As for the snow and ice, I think you know how I feel about that. UGH!!

I hope you are feeling better and can get some much needed rest.

2/04/2008 12:32 AM  
Blogger rilera said...

I dread the day when Mom doesn't remember my name. So far, she still remembers. I'm so sorry for you Joanne. This disease is torture for all involved.

I hope you are feeling better too. It's hard to care for someone when you feel awful. Take care.

2/05/2008 10:31 PM  
Blogger dave said...

Like the others I dread the day when my dear Miriam does not know me. It will tear my heart out I know. Meanwhile, I will enjoy her love as much as I can.
Thanks for writing Joanne.

2/06/2008 1:35 AM  
Blogger Cinnamin said...

Joanne, I too feel this sadness in your post. I’m sorry that you are not feeling well, it is always hard to “deal” when you, yourself are not feeling your best. I hope that you are feeling better soon!!

I remember so well that I became so many people to my Mother. I was her sister, her friend from college, her aunt, and “that lady”. Sometimes my family and I were “those people” other times, like you, I was “her daughter”.

Yes, it was heartbreaking at times, she was SO confused and unhappy.

What I can tell you is that in her last few months, she did know us all! Myself, hubby and my son, and she called us all by name! I am extremely grateful for this!

Thinking of you and praying that your health improves, that Mom comes “back” to you, even if in those little moments, the glimmer of “before ALZ” that we all wait for, and that you are able to find joy and happiness in those moments. Warm ((HUGS)) to you this day!

2/06/2008 1:51 AM  
Blogger steflovesnonna said...

I am so sorry. I know how those conversations can be heart breaking. I used to get so upset when Nonna dident know me. When I was only 16 she started to forget who I was. My mom had to calm me down a few times because I really dident understand then. Hang in there my friend. You are doing ok. <3 u.

2/06/2008 4:01 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

I saw that on the news, too, Betsy. I just can't imagine that much snow!

Anon, thanks for reading. Sorry you're going through this awful disease with your mom. You're right, we couldn't make this stuff up, even if we tried.

Thank you for the thoughts and prayers, Nancy.

Yes, Chris. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 1991 and rheumatoid arthritis and osteo arthritis in 2004. They are all pains. ROFL Caregiving stress helps none of them. ;)

Lori, I do remember you saying that Helen called you Hello. I can settle for honey. At least for now she still knows I'm her daughter.

I dread it for you, too, Robyn and Dave. I thought I had prepared myself for it, but I guess it still stings no matter how much you prepare.

Awh, thanks Cinn. Mom talks about "those people" sometimes too. LOL I try to find joy in every day with her. Some days hold more joy than others.

Thanks, Stef. Love you, too!

PS. I am feeling better. I think I was just worn out. One of these days I'll have to do something about catching up on sleep. But like Stef said...I'm doing okay.

2/06/2008 10:45 PM