Dementia the Face Changer.

I read The Sun today – don’t judge I was at my Dads.

The news about Cilla Black was obviously prominent and I read the tributes. One thing that stood out for me was that she hadn’t wanted to be a burden, hadn’t wanted to suffer and had wanted to go out at a reasonable age without being too ill.
The universe served you well Cilla. – Thank you for the entertainment I didn’t like Surprise Surprise but I liked blind date and even recall watching Cilla in Black and White when I was very young obviously.

There was also a quote in there regarding her mum, Cilla said her mum had said during her demise she was trying her best to die, she’d had enough, she was in pain and suffering knowing her life was not the quality or quantity she had wanted. It was her mums suffering that had prompted Cilla’s thoughts.
The universe didn’t serve Cilla’s mum.

Another piece was about an ex-nurse who had travelled to a Swiss suicide clinic. She ended her life on the 21st July as she thought she had reached her ideal shelf life. She had no illnesses; she had no problems. She was fit and healthy. She also had a partner and 2 sons.  But she had decided it was her time and her family supported her, if not understanding her.
She had the capacity to tell the universe what she wanted and it listened.

I went to see mum today and for the first time she didn’t know me.  For the first time I wasn’t heartbroken I didn’t cry. She knew me as someone, she knew she knew me. She greeted me with a smile and said hello love. In all honesty I wasn’t aware, but as the conversations went on I realised through her eyes was I was not her daughter, not today at least.

We went outside and sat in a chair. She looked quite well actually, although her skin is like tissue paper and she has those old lady bruises and skin tears. Because she has spent so long in the garden, just sitting and watching she is a nice colour. A stranger could well describe her as having a healthy tan.
But I know better, healthy isn’t even close. Her breathing is laboured but it has been for a long time now. Her words are no longer fluent but each syllable is a raspy effort.  I’m not sure if it because she struggles to breathe or because she struggles to form words and sentences.

Today though she chatted, she didn’t tell me I shouldn’t have come to visit her. She didn’t accuse me of not caring and she didn’t tell me how disappointed she was in me. This has been the basis of her conversations with me since she has been in the home.

Neither did she ask how our kids were, she didn’t ask if we were enjoying the school holidays and she didn’t ask how Dad was.

The tanned face with the beautiful blue eyes looked tired and withdrawn. Mums conversations were random about people who were not there, names I had not known.

I was trying to engage with a stranger. A stranger wearing my mums face.
Have you seen the film Face Off?
It reminds me of that two characters a terrorist and an FBI agent swap faces.  Opposite ends of the spectrum, different personalities. It feels like that has happened to my mum.

Only a stranger would not ask how her adored grandchildren were; only a stranger would not acknowledge the plant I had brought for her and surely only a stranger would not recognise me?

I was glad today that the mum I have got to know over the past few months wasn’t there. She wasn’t upset or agitated or wailing. I don’t know if I was glad for me or for mum. Probably more for me as there was no accusations, no distress and today in mums world not too much emotional or physical pain.

The mum I knew before dementia would have been devastated at not knowing her own daughter, at not knowing where her husband was and at not asking about her beloved grandchildren.

A once proud, intelligent and strong woman has to have all her personal care needs attended, she has to be guided at every movement and she has no idea where her room is or where she is.  She does not sleep at night afraid to go to bed, she walks the corridors or sits in the lounge area just waiting, waiting and waiting. Waiting for the next day for the sun to rise and for the day to begin but she doesn’t know the day, it doesn’t really matter.

Today she was counting and got “stuck” at 6. She holds her head in her hands and prays for relief, relief from the confusion, the pain, the situation?  I do not know and I don’t think she does either.

What is happening universe we don’t understand?

A Unique planter in the Care Home Garden
A Unique planter in the Care Home Garden



8 thoughts on “Dementia the Face Changer.

  1. Thank you for sharing. We all know of someone dealing with a similar situation, but to hear your feelings, and perspectives is so touching.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s