August 28, 2014

It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)




Yes. I’m back. Yes. Again. I know, you may be wondering, “Doesn’t a blogger have to blog to be a blogger?” I would tend to agree. Have I really felt like blogging since my last post? Not especially. Have I wanted to let ‘The Bedlam’ go altogether? No. Not for a second. But in May the bottom dropped out of my life and I was rendered useless in the face of what I was confronting. I did my best to keep my other social media outlets going but blogging just became an impossible priority.

Some of you may recall that my mom had been dealing with, what we believed to be, Alzheimer’s symptoms for a while now. But try as we might to get her to seek medical attention, for any reason, she steadfastly refused. We watched as it slowly crept in here and there. It was enough to cause us concern and worry but not so much that we couldn’t deceive ourselves into believing that we had more time. Whatever that meant, anyway? And in May things went from blips on the radar to full blown alarm bells. We were confronted with the absolute reality that the force to be reckoned with that has been my mom, our own little Titanic, had indeed started sinking.

After an episode where my mom had wandered off to the neighbors’ house and refused to go back home, my dad felt helpless and called the police for assistance. They sent the sheriff out and after a long conversation made the determination that my mom had to go to the hospital. While she resisted getting into the ambulance that had been called, the neighbors, who had since returned home, helped reassure her that they were just there to help her. Several hours later after assessments from medical doctors and a social worker I received the news that my mom would never be able to go home again. Ever. She would need to be placed in a secure memory care facility permanently. Just writing that puts a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes. Life as I’d known it was over and I’d been tasked with, during what has already been a pretty miserable year, adapting to and accepting a new normal.

I have learned an enormous amount in the last four months. Tear ducts are remarkably resilient and can handle vast amounts of usage. How mine aren’t broken or dried up at this point is completely beyond me. With no prior knowledge or experience, and in the wake of my greatest life turmoil, I traversed through medical and legal territory that should earn me some kind of serious merit badge or résumé fodder. You can function on an unbelievable lack of sleep. Not necessarily well or comfortably but still functioning. (Parents of newborns? Though for different reasons, I feel ya.) People can be incredibly kind. Incredibly. Kind. Sadly, people can also be astonishingly insensitive, dismissive, and self-serving. Fortunately, and thankfully, they represent a very small percentage overall. The smallest words of support mean so much. Never have I experienced the depths of meaning that simple words can possess. I now know the vast and varied ways that people grieve and process deep emotional pain. I’ve seen the dark fury of my own emotional depths and been graced with the forgiveness to see me through to the other side. When people talk about being stronger than you think, believe them. It’s truer than I would ever have considered. I am capable of much more than I’d ever given myself credit for. I’ve learned that no one in this world will ever hold my heart the way my mom does. And I’ve learned, despite my doubts in the past, that I will be able to survive without her when that unfathomable day should arrive.

The other thing one learns? Life goes on. You may not want it to and desperately want to pull the emergency break just long enough to pretend that none of this is happening. You can fight the locomotive force of the future's pull and try to stay at the station of what used to be. But it’s no use since forward is our only choice, really. And so here I am. Again. Different than I used to be as I know I’m not the same person as I was before. There’s no sense in trying to describe the difference, the feeling, as words would simply fail with the subtle complexities of transformation that have come about. But their palpable presence is strong and certain. And I know there is more self-discovery to come. Just as there is still more to come here.

Thank you, dear readers, for your patience and continued support. It means the world to me. Truly.



29 comments:

  1. I am so sorry!! I am not an emotional person but your honesty made me tear up. Hoping the road ahead will be a little less bumpy, a little more calm. It won't be easy but you have some answers now and she's safe. Hugs!!

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  2. Oh, Uncle B, I'm so sorry. Unfathomably hard to say goodbye but especially hard to say it over and over again, in small and painful pieces, as we must when Alzheimers takes hold. I've been there, and I feel for you. Keep on keeping on, and hold on tight to the wonderful, happy, funny and empowering memories you have of your mother. Big virtual hug and a salute for your courage and strength.

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  3. Ah, my friend, this is the part of "growing up" that no one ever tells you about, eh? Or maybe they do but we happily either deny it or don't have the imagination to really understand.

    Aging parents.

    I used to think that BEING a parent was a divider, an experience that separated people in terms of life experience. It is in some ways but having gone through aging parents (mine) and the passing away of my in-laws, THIS is a big line in the sand. A huge before & after.

    I remember seeing older friends who went through it before me. Or peers who unfortunately experienced it far before they should. They were the same but there was this sober seriousness as well. A look in their eye of having lived through a lot that could neither be explained nor really understood til I experienced it.

    We all will go through it. And it changes you. Cue cliches like "puts things in perspective".

    Life is great and fun and wonderful and also at times ridiculously sad and hard and bloody unfair. Virtual hugs and all that. Been there. Will be there again.

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  4. Thinking of you and sending massive loads of love and hugs your way today dear Bradford. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help lighten your burden. Anything at all. xo

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  5. My mom has been in a memory care unit for 2 years now, she did well for the six months after Dad died but then slid back into confusion. Assisted living isn't set up for this so we found a wonderful facility near by. She still sees my sisters on a regular basis, same dr's etc and for the first time in her life is delighted to have her "own room".
    Occasionally her "evil twin" emerges but good intervention keeps that to a minimum, we know she is well cared for, my sisters keep a close eye on her and she is generally happy.
    It wasn't easy to move her there and she knows it is a locked unit but her safety and health were more important.
    I see her when I can, OH to MA, but I know she is safe and loved.
    She asks how old she is, 85, and then comments she still has all her own teeth. Her sense of humor is intact!
    Your mothers' welfare is paramount but I know how hard the whole thing is.
    Florence

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  6. What a beautiful post, even if it was written for the saddest reason. My best to you and yours, Beefy. I hope you can find new ways to enjoy time with your mother during this stage of her life. xo

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  7. Oh Bradford. My heart breaks for you while applauding the comfort and strength that you have for your Mom and the inner strength that you've found for yourself. Hugs and love to you my friend!

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  8. There are no words I can type that convey how desperately bad I wish you and your mom and your dad, and Kendall too didn't have to go through this. I hope you and your family find peace and strength during this chapter. My heart and thoughts are with you. xo

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  9. Many hugs to you, B. I am so happy you shared this, and I know it wasn't easy. I lost my grandmother to Alzheimers and it was so very hard.

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  10. Oh B...I have tears in my eyes + love in my heart for what you are dealing with. How eloquently you've expressed something we all must face as we age, and our parents age. So true...we really are all stronger than we believe. Stay strong my friend. xoxo

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  11. I wonder if you mom and my grandma are in the same memory care facility. Its over your way. . . Ugh, its such a hard thing to be a part of but you're doing the best you can. xoxo.

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  12. Well, I'm glad you're back, though I'm so sorry for what you've been going through. You are incredibly brave, and your mother must be a truly remarkable woman to have raised such an amazing son and to inspire the feelings you've been feeling. I lost my parents at a young age, and while they, and I, were much too young, I see all around me now struggling with ageing parents and realise that in some ways I was lucky. You ARE strong and you will come through and it will be shitty and horrible, but I suppose that's life sometimes. I am thinking of you, sending hugs and support and please, please let me know if there is anything I can actually DO to help. I am just across the water...

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  13. Dear Brad and Carin...I know the family has struggled for a very long time but I think of your father now and the loss of his partner in life. I know it was the last thing that he ever wanted to do. Your mama was a strong Irish woman and you have so very many experiences to remember with her. It's hard to let our mothers go but she will be with you forever! Sending hugs to all of you. Rose Blonk


    .

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  14. Oh Beefy, I am so sorry to hear this. Hugs and hugs and more hugs. You are a fantastic son. xx

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  15. Love you B! Take care of yourself. Hugs and Kisses.

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  16. Sending you lots of hugs, love and positive vibes, my dear Uncle B.

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  17. This was so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this, it is a great tribute to your mom. I am so sorry for what you are all going through.

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  18. Sending impossibly huge hugs! I always admire your strength, candor and honesty. I am so sorry for everything you and your family have been facing in recent months and send all my love your way. xoxo

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  19. Oh my, we are going through something so similar right now in our family. I'm so sorry that this is happening to you, too. It's so hard to realize that so many things that were just the everyday are now precious memories. But thank you for the reassurance that life does go on. Thank you for your honesty. Sending love and wishes for the very best.

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  20. My dearest Uncle B, I'm so sorry to hear about what you've been going through. I've spoken with friends who have had parents and grandparents with Alzheimer's over the years -- it can be so emotionally taxing for everyone involved. I know you're surrounded by love and support, but I'm sending more your way (because you can never have too much). And you know if you ever want to talk, I'm your girl. About that, about life, it doesn't matter. xoxo

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  21. Heartfelt hug to you Beefy. I can so relate. Your mother raised wonderful son! much love Kit

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  22. Oh no, I'm so sorry Bradford. I am the parent of a baby who is now 6 months old so I know what you mean about change and sleep and all of that! But at least this is all for something positive. In your case, it feels so scary and draining and just plain confusing I'm sure. I'm terribly sorry you have to deal with this. And your mom and dad too. The bottom dropped out of my life in May too. Funny, it's also involving my mother. And her health. But a much different thing and for me, it was devastating. She flew over to visit us and after she returned home (she was in Germany for 15 days), I cried and cried and CRIED. Then I got angry. Then I had to call a friend in the states who is a therapist and she walked me through some things and that sure did help. Maybe you will be able to find someone who has been there on the same road as you are on who can help you through, or a professional who can lend an ear to help you if you get depressed over all of this (which is EASY to do), or maybe someone will be there for you to give you reassurance and love. Bradford I'm sorry about all of this and wish you lots of light and love despite how dark it may feel at the moment.

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  23. Gah. Being part of the same generation…what are we the "sandwich generation?" and feeling the change in my own parents I feel you. And I send you hugs thru the inter-webs. Big ones. I can't imagine your pain, but only hope that you find some solace in your blog and your readers and feel the community that you have created come together and rally for you. Big time love.

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  24. Mon Oncle....I wish I had something to say from my own 55 years that was of use. But I don't. Just know that my heart and prayers are with you and with your mom and dad. I asked a fighter pilot friend of mine one time about flying in stormy weather. He said "hey, there is always blue sky up there somewhere". You will all find your blue sky. Maybe, after all, that is a comment of some use. ML

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  25. Sending you a HUGE hug from SF dear Bradford. Cannot wait to give you a real one in person in October!

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  26. I didn’t know this was here… thought I better catch up on the fab cake we were joking about yesterday. Got here, went “oh wow’ You have been through the wringer. It’s very tiring isn’t it? Poor dad too… things are not how you all thought they would be.

    I don’t have anything to say that will help that you haven’t thought of already … except I wish I could give you a hug.

    Gillian x

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