The Contest

July 1, 2010

I find myself in the midst of a contest i never wanted to enter, let alone win. I am the least competitive person I know. Sure I want to win the lottery, but I have never bought a ticket. If I were a finalist in Betty Crocker   “bake-off”, I would  give the gal with the cupcakes my secret recipe for unbeatable chocolate frosting. She needs to win, while I could care less. At any stop light I count to 3 before I put my foot on the gas…If I receive a compliment on an article of clothing I am wearing I have been known to take it off right then and there and give it to the complimentOR. I could careless about stuff, or winning or prizes.

My elderly mom is in the biggest contest of her life…and she is determined  to WIN. Win what exactly, I’m not quite sure. Independence, yes! The right to make her own decisions, yes! The hope of turning the clock back, definitely. I respect her desires, I do. I have told her that if my kids came to me and said they were moving me out of my home, I would change the locks and tell them to go away FOREVER..

During her latest visit to the hospital, it was her doctor’s conclusion that she shouldn’t drive, or live alone any longer. I think she agreed, appeared somewhat submissive even, so as to get the hell out of the hospital and back to her life as usual. Unfortunately, my brothers and I agreed with the doctors decisions.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN. Her independence is a facade, one I have been happy to oblige her for so many years now. I work my ass off to help her pretend that she is doing “this” all on her own. Thus far we, as a team, have managed. But now with memory loss, she forgets what she agreed to and why and becomes defiant and determined to win…Let’s take driving for example. She now has declared that NO ONE has the right to restrict her privilege to drive. She forgets that she forgets. She has called the DMV, who said; sure, go ahead  and drive until you’re 95 or you kill someone…which ever comes first.  So now she is prepared to hire an attorney, confront the doctor, get a lock smith out to replace the car keys that have gone missing…

I respect her stubbornness to a degree. I celebrate her independence to a degree. Now comes the tricky party…do I engage, prepare to fight, wrestle her to the ground in a sumo style choke hold, or do I give her my best chocolate frosting recipe and let her win? The consequences will be grave. A fire, a serious car accident, an over-does or under-dose of life saving medicine…or god forbid a wheel chair in a corner of a nursing home somewhere.

My inclination at this point is to bake the chocolate cupcakes for her  topped with the unbeatable  frosting and let her win the prize…

3 Responses to “The Contest”

  1. melody Says: so WELL I know this argument with yourself….I really truly understand. I have come to the conclusion that there is such a thing as QUALITY of life..and with that thought in mind..I have given in to so many of my fiercely independent mothers wants and wishes.. Here is a woman who has worked since she was 14 yrs of age..who always worked…who never counted on my dad or anyone else to get things done…and now in her last years of life..she asks nothing more than to be what she has always been…INDEPENDENT!!!
    I do draw the line on getting behind anything that could put her or other people at risk. The car is gone. This with my yours..was a huge blow. There is a lock on her medication box. Again…this went over like screen doors in a submarine…she was not happy at all..but her doctor and nurse both demanded it be put there. Mom was forgetting when she had taken her pills..or IF she had taken her pills , so she was constantly overdosting or underdosing and ending up in the ER.
    The trade off…
    She has her own apartment…she has providers who come in every day but Sunday..she is in a retirement community with a 24 nurse on call and emergency pull-cords in every room and she is..for all intents and purposes…on her own….able to make her own decisions..and I do my best to not interfer..and remind her daily that whether she goes to this doctor or that entirely up to her! Its not the same..I know thst..but it is by far a huge huge leap from a nursing home or an assisted living..and I am but 12 minutes away.
    Good look..and a thousand hugs. We are doing the best we can as adult children..always in the back of our minds …wondering how WE will be treated by our children when the time comes. Its difficult…horribly difficult..but we do try!
    ps…how timely that you post this blog on Independence..the week of July 4th!!! Touche’! : )

  2. Kristine you are brilliant. I have been through this and you are so on target.

    One thing we did with reference to the car was a car service with a friend two days per week. Dad could pick the days(NO ONE at any age for any reason wants to lose their Independence) but I have seen young people with illness also learn to compromise.
    After the car issued which seemed to fade away the wallet was a major thing. Where was it hidden? Who stole it? There was more money in it this morning and now-well now it is still morning and the same amount is there.
    I do not know if we ever know what wave the mind is going to take.

    The most difficult here is that each day/moment is new with anyone with dementia.

    You are still in control-Mom gets some free time sadly to say if she even realizes it.
    There were times that Dave(a friend) would come for Dad and Dad would become angry
    saying he never made those plans to go for a haircut.

    My friend John had to put his Mom in an assisted living. She overdosed on her pills by mistake. She is healthy and happy but Barbara thinks she is at a casino. John would insist to her she is not when I told him to stop and just go along with it. He gives $10.00 a week for the slots. We found out the money was in her purse in various little compartments.

    I would bake the cupcakes, ice them, eat one, share some and just take each day one at a time.
    This from experience. Sometimes there are no answers, we do not what lies ahead so we learn to deal with each day as the waves roll in front of us. Some we learn to jump, some we dive thru other just beat the crap out of us.
    Be Well. Hugs to all. Humor is key!! Family Support a must!

  3. gayle Says:

    Amen to that. My sister is going through this right now and we take it a day at a time and most of all, try to walk in her shoes and understand as much as possible what she is going through. If I had my life to live over again, I would have let so many things go by that I wasted valuable energy upon, when in fact it didn’t really matter at the end of the day. Live and let live and enjoy what time you have on this planet and live in the present, because as we all know, the future might not be ours to have.

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