Monday, March 13, 2017

Winter Spring and Summer

We left Arcata Wednesday morning. It was gray and chilly. The usual weather we'd been having all winter. As we made our way through the awesome redwoods and mountains, the skies cleared and the temps went up and up and up. By the time we arrived at our destination in the beautiful Sonoma wine country, we had entered full blown springtime.
Oh those rolling green hills and vineyards as far as the eyes can see. There were butterflies in the air and bird songs from every direction. The air was warm and beautiful. We took off our sweaters and never put them back on. Our dear friends made us an incredible feast, and we rested in the comforts of spring.
The weather cooperated even when we arrived in Capitola for two nights at the beach house. It was sunny, warm, and beautiful. We hadn't been there in a year, the longest time we'd ever been away for the past 28 years. We felt lucky because our mid-afternoon arrival coincided with a minus tide. You know how much we love walkng the minus tides beneath the cliffs of Capitola Beach. The tidepools and fossils wow us every time. My twin brother joined us for the afternoon walk, but when we got to the beach we discovered that the wet, wet winter had changed the sand levels. Not a single tidepool was visible. We had never seen it like that. We did get to see how the weather had changed the cliff and shoreline. My brother posed for the above photo for perspective. Erosion is a pretty wild thing.

Then we hit the road south Saturday morning for the 340 mile drive to see my mom. It was sunny and beautiful the whole way. The rains had brightened the hills to almost saturated Photoshop levels! I clicked a few photos through the car window as we zoomed by mile after mile. I was worried about seeing my mom for the first time since her stroke and Alzheimer's diagnosis, and the scenery helped to keep me somewhat sane.

When we arrived at my mom's the temps were in the 80s. We never have temperatures like that even in the midst of summertime on the north coast. We rang the doorbell at the 24/7 care facility and a lovely caregiver opened the door. We walked into my mom's spacious bedroom that has a door that looks out on a beautiful manicured backyard. Birds flitted  in the treetops and lizards ran along the retaining wall. My mom greeted us with a sweetheart smile. She said, "Hi Rog! Where's your wife?" I said, "Hey mom, I'm right here. It's me, Robin!" She said, "No, I mean the other Robin."

My mom has Alzheimer's.

33 comments:

  1. What a downer!
    My mom, before the Alzheimer's got her, went to visit her mom in Ontario. Grandma didn't recognize her, but talked normally, as if Mom were another of the nurses.
    After Mom came home to BC, her brother went to see Grandma, and the first thing she said to him was, "Lorna (Mom) came to see me the other day!"

    It's as if the wiring shorts out occasionally, and then re-connects.

    It has been snowing off and on here. Enjoy the heat!

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    1. Susannah-- Yes, exactly the wiring shorts out occasionally, and then reconnects. In my mom's case I think the wiring is more than occasionally disconnected. For the most part, she is no longer herself. Sigh.

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  2. I am sorry to hear about your mother. I hope the visit goes as well as possible. I have been reading your blog for a while but didn't realise exactly where you were until we had a lovely two week holiday in California in January! Into LA, along the coast, as far as up as Eureka. What a beautiful part of the world and we loved the trees :)

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    1. Lynley-- Thank you so much for commenting. I love knowing that you were traveling through our neck of the woods. Yes, it is a beautiful part of our planet. Thank you for your kind words.

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  3. Oh Robin, stay grounded and concentrate on all the positive things.

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    1. Sabine-- I'm working on the grounding and positive parts of life right now. We spent many hours with my mom on Sunday. She's not herself at all, but we hugged good bye and told each other of our love.

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  4. Oh my. This has to be a tough thing for you to go through. Well like the other commenters say, try to stay positive. Try to get out and enjoy some nature when you can. Take advantage of that nice weather. I will be dreaming of it as we brace for a blizzard here in NJ.

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    1. Sharon-- It is tough, and on top of that Roger took my sister (whose home we are staying in) to ER this morning for a major ass-kicking migraine. We are loving the weather. Despite all of the bummers, the weather makes us feel like we're on vacation!

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    2. When it rains, it pours. I've had migraines. They're the worst. I hope she's feeling better.

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    3. Sharon-- Migraines ARE THE WORST. She's still sleeping and not feeling great. Such a bummer. Thank you for your good wishes.

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  5. Enjoyed your journey into summer; very sorry for the situation with your mom. I am utterly in sympathy. My mom has been in decline for the past 15 years, and it's heartaching to be in mourning for someone for that long while they are alive.
    Every case is different. I hope you can have some good moments.

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    1. isabelita-- It's incredible how warm 83 degrees feels! I tend not to like hot weather (it's why we live on the cool north coast), but wow this does feel good. I'm so sorry about your mom. This is quite a journey with our elderly parents, isn't it?

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  6. So glad you were able to enjoy nature at it's most beautiful. I know you needed that. I am sorry about your Mom. I do know what you are feeling. My Dad didn't recognize me the last two years but he knew my husband until the day he died.
    Take care and be well.

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    1. Cat Lover-- Yes, nature is the best balance to everything else going on. How interesting that your dad didn't recognize you, but did your husband. Hard to even understand and yet we both know how it feels. Thank you for your good wishes.

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  7. Sending love to you, robin.

    Yesterday morning I heard a robin singing when I was on my way to meet with some friends. I looked here and there toward the grey sky. A robin was singing heartfully from one of a number of trees that do not yet have their spring leaves. I thought of you and your bright spirit.

    Thank you so much for the glimpses of the exquisite green that comes after California rains. I, too, have been startled by the way the beach sands shift as a result of powerful winter storms. So many changes in our lives this past winter. Perseverance furthers.

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    1. am-- Thank you for your love and support, and the song spirit of robins. Much appreciated. The earth does some amazing things, and we are grateful to be watching. Hey, did you ever read my post from long ago called Perseverance Furthers? http://newdharmabums.blogspot.com/2009/11/perseverance-furthers.html

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    2. Just re-read it. Thanks for the link. When the words came to me, I was remembering that you had written a post about those words coming to you, but I didn't know when it was (-:

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  8. Oh so sorry that you were the other Robin. Both of my parents died in their 60s. Most of the time I lament the loss, but sometimes I wonder whether having them longer would outweigh losing them to dementia.

    So sad to see the erosion damage. It's heartbreaking to lose some of your favorite places.

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    1. NCmountainwoman-- I understand your pondering such a thing. I hope never to live to such an age that I have lost what it means to be me. The California coast changes all the time. It is truly a wonder to behold.

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  9. I was enjoying your trip but her words took my breath away. Robin, I am so very sorry!!! I am glad at least your goodbye was a bit better. What an evil thing dementia is. Sending caring hugs from Arkansas.

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    1. Patti-- My mom has forgotten each one of my siblings at various times in the past few months. We should have been paying more attention. Today, when we left her to come back to my sister's, I hugged her and said, "I love you, mom." She got a twinkle in her eye and said, "I love you, Robin." Music to my ears. Thank you for your virtual hugs, my friend.

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  10. Robin Andrea - I can absolutely empathize with you! My elderly parents live with me and my Mom has dementia. Sometimes I am the "woman who cooks," sometimes her cousin, and many times when I tell her I am Cathy, her daughter, she also says, "well, I have another Cathy."
    It's sad, it's hard, but sometimes I just have to think of myself as "the woman who cooks" in order to keep myself sane and happy. Hugs and peace to you!
    Cathy McDonald

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    1. Cathy-- I can't tell you how much I appreciate your story. It helps to learn how often our elderly parents with dementia forget their children. A fellow blogger suggested that perhaps they only remember us from when we were younger (and in my case had dark hair!). Yesterday when we left her room, I hugged her and said "I love you, mom" She got a twinkle in her eye and said, "I love you too, Robin." It was wonderful! When your mom remembers you, savor the moment. Hugs and peace to you too.

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  11. Robin, glad you got a better goodbye than arrival. Jerome's mom had neural cortex issues (similar to Alzheimers) that impacted her motor skills as well as mental cognition and speech. Our last visit with her she was able to recognize and whisper "Jerome" and that was a small but suffcient gift for him. She never forgot who her husband was though (as far as we know). A cruel disease indeed.

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    1. lindaj-- I think my mom would definitely remember my dad, but the four kids are an entirely different story. When she first was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma in 2015, my brother drove down from SC to be with her, and she did not recognize him. We should have paid a lot more attention to that, but we dismissed it as stress. It is a cruel disease.

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  12. The ending slapped me back to reality. I'm sorry this happened. I know that you know that it is to be expected. And I know you don't take personally. At least she was cheerful, right?

    My mom's name was Letty. One of the last times I saw her, she said to me, "are you Letty, or am I?"

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    1. Pat-- Yeah, the ending slapped me back to reality too. We've been lucky to find my mom cheerful on our daily visits. It is not always true. On her agitated, bad days she shouts expletives at anyone and everyone. Thank you for sharing the story of your mom. The best part of the social internet is like sitting around the night campfires sharing the stories of our lives.

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  13. Yeah, I agree with Pat. What a way to end a pleasant journal south. It's sad and unfair for someone to have to end their life this way. As I have aged I have begun to think that having children is life's way of keeping us from going mad with grief watching our parents age. Unfortunately, Leah and I have no children, so mad we go.

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    1. Mark-- This is a challenging journey. Today we are taking my mom to the doctor for a B-12 shot and then to a big store for Depends. I often think having children is life's way of providing support as we age. I have three step-daughters, but I know I'm walking into madness as I go. Wheee!

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  14. I'm late seeing this post. Wow. I think the other blogger you mention might be right, that in your mom's confusion, she knew Roger is your husband, but only remembered you as a child.
    Funny sort-of dementia story: My stepfather, Ed, had Parkinson's. Both the meds and the disease can cause hallucinations he had them in spades. They were interwoven with dementia, so hard to pick apart. He'd been having hallucinations so long by the time of this incident, I had progressed from being freaked out by them to barely noticing them. Anyway he was far along his Parkinson's journey and my mother landed in the hospital with yet another UTI, so Ed's children brought him to the hospital to visit her. Ed was in a wheelchair by this time. They wheeled him into the room and the first thing he did was glue his eyes to me with a look of horror on his face. I greeted him as cheerfully as ever, he stared some more, then said, "Oh, Ccorax! You don't have a head." I laughed and replied, "I always lose my head when I'm with you!"
    He didn't get it.

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  15. CCorax-- I do think that my mom remembers me much younger and with long dark hair. That's a long time ago! I love your story about your step-dad. What a sight he must have thought he actually saw. I love your answer! Roger and I have a conversation quite often, wondering if we've met anyone yet who made getting old look like something we'd like to do.

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