by Beth Whitman
The first heart-wrenching event that occurred during the time I have been taking care of Mom happened sometime in December 2011. Despite her Alzheimer’s, Mom was still fairly independent, but had recently taken to wandering some at night.
I am jolted awake from a deep sleep.
I hear loud screaming and pounding.
I have no idea what could be going on.
I fly down the stairs and follow the sound into my parents’ part of the house.
My mom is standing in the bathroom, screaming and pounding on the floor with her cane.
“WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO!????”
Dad is standing helplessly in the doorway, trying to talk with her.
I step into the bathroom and try to hug her, and she pushes me away.
“WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?”
I grab her shoulders and look into her eyes. “We love you.”
“I KNOW, BUT THAT DOESN’T HELP. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO??”
I reach out again and this time am able to hug her. “I know, I know,” I say.
“YOU DON’T KNOW!! WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO???”
“You are right. I don’t know. I have no idea.” I am crying. Mom is now crying on my shoulder. Dad is standing in the doorway crying.
“Let’s go back to bed,” I say.
“Yes, Marianne, why don’t we go back to bed and try to get some sleep,“ Dad says.
“Here, why don’t you hold on to my walker,” he offers.
I lead Mom over to Dad and she takes hold of his walker. Then slowly, little by little, Mom still sobbing and occasionally pounding on the floor with her cane, all three of us make our way into their bedroom.
I rub her back for another hour as she sits on the edge of the bed, whimpering for a while, and occasionally pounding her cane on the floor. Eventually she lays back on the bed and holds my hand until she falls asleep.
Beth Whitman lives in Maine and is a member of Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage, a developing community on the coast of Maine focused on multigenerational living and sustainability.