Today is my mother's 76th birthday. I went to go see her, partly out of duty and partly to spite my sister and partly because Mom's old and I may not get to see her for much longer. It was painful, but surprisingly pleasant. As pleasant as an evening spent with two bigots, my sister who can't sit still or shut up - literally, and a house full of parrots. Current count: 2 Hyacinth Macaws, 1 Amazon Grey, 1 yellow headed green, 1 ugly green 'plucks all his feathers off', 1 Jenday Conure, and 1 sulphur crested cockatoo.
My mother has to be spoon fed now. At one point, my sister said, "Mom! You have to eat!" and my mother snapped right back, "NO I DON'T!" I laughed, because that moment was pure Mom.
I got to listen to a rant on how all the bad in MN right now is the fault of 'those damn Somali immigrants' by one of my sister's friends. They're to blame for everything, including the new sports stadiums. Then my sister's other friend showed up and went off about Obama. She said something - by this time, I was mostly tuning her out - and used the word 'negro'. My mother immediately snapped, "DON'T use that WORD!" My sister tried to apologize, saying Mom didn't know what she was saying. I reminded her that Mom hated that word. My mother was against identifying people by the colour of their skin. If it had to be done, they were 'people of colour'. Not black, not red, not purple - never an identified colour, just 'of colour'. You never used 'negro' or the other n-word in my house, because my mother would set you right so fast your head would spin. How anyone could ever forget that about my mother, I do not understand.
My sister's friend used it a second time and Mom did the same thing, more angrily this time. "DON'T use THAT WORD!" Some things are so ingrained, etched so deeply into her mind, that they exist beyond the disease that's turning her brain to oatmeal. That was neat to see, but also kind of horrible. I don't want to think of her trapped in there.
While telling my sister that Jamie cut his hair short, Mom ejected, "Jamie.. he's a good kid."
While I was trying to help feed her, "Who are you?" "Mom, I'm [Peregrine]." "[Peregrine]." (said with relief). I jokingly asked if I was a good kid too, and she gave me the "Are you dumb?" look and ejected, "You were ALWAYS a good kid!" Thanks, Mom.
It was good to see her, and the semi-lucid moments were kind of nice, but it was also kind of horrible. It's hard to look at the zombie shell and acknowledge that it was my mother. She doesn't look the same - physically, there have been huge changes. Her face has become all sunken in. She can't wear dentures anymore and her nose has changed shape. Probably due to the mini-strokes she keeps having. The muscle tone is just.. off. When I was little, Mom taught me how to carve "apple people" - you carve an apple into a generic 'face' shape and let it wither and it looks like a little old person. That's what my mother looks like now. Her eyes are still the same, but they're empty except for the brief sparks of confusion. Bright blue spots of emptiness in a tiny, withered face. My sister let Mom's hair grow out to its natural colour, and the colour's changed. My mother had white blonde hair, then dishwater blonde hair, then grey/blonde hair and then she bleached it back to white blonde. Her hair is now a strange, mousey brownish grey. It's actually quite pretty, but it's very, very odd.
It's weird, looking at her now. There's a vague fear of "That could be me someday", although realistically it's not likely. Technically, she doesn't have Alzheimer's. She has CMI, which is directly tied to uncontrolled diabetes. I don't have the same risk factors my mother did. I'm not diabetic. I also don't smoke a pack a day like my mother did for most of her life. I'm also not, nor have I ever been, an alcoholic, nor did I do any other recreational things that would have impaired my brain cells. Unless you count the SCA.
My mother's living her worst nightmare, and I just wish it would end for her. Peacefully, quietly, while she still has any dignity left at all. The brain rot has already taken her independence and most of her faculties, and nearly all of her memories. I felt a bit like a traitor tonight, for being glad to see the tiny little sparks of Mom. She had a good night tonight, though.
Happy birthday, Mom. I love you. Always.