Am fast discovering the impossible — after fantasizing from the time my oldest was about six months old (ten years ago) of that day, THAT GLORIOUS DAY, when my youngest child would go off to kindergarten, I would loose the tender shackles of full time motherhood, and be restored to the free-time-having creature I once was — I am finding myself somehow still up to the nostrils in full time parenting.
HOW IS THIS BULLSHIT OCCURRING, despite laws of physics and the space-time continuum?! All I can figure is that I used to clean house and grocery shop with them, even occasionally getting them to help sort laundry and such. Now, when they are out of school, there is frenetic parental-attention-requiring homework, sports practice/games, dinner making rollercoaster. This leaves me with doing those shit-ass chores when they are all gone. THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE ANNE TIME, UNIVERSE. Instead, have transferred my job title from babysitter to maid/Batman’s butler. AM PISSED.
Went to a wedding in Napa. It was like stepping into the pages of a fancy magazine. At first, I was kind of awed that people actually live like this, because I was under the basic assumption that all magazine photo shoots are fantasy porn and completely shopped from a single picture of a cardboard box somewhere in New York City. Once I got over my awe, I was PISSED. Why the hell have I been living my regular life when I could spend my weekends lounging on a rolling emerald lawn, being served Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails by square-jawed waiters? The fuck I even knew that was a legit life choice.
On our way to the wedding, we stayed at my Mom and Dad’s new house. I tried again, fruitlessly, to talk my mother into some kind of respite care.
The way my dad’s dementia is wired, he is totally confused by events, but he sure remembers how those events made him feel (HINT: they make him feel bad).
All weekend, he shuffled around the house, clutching his LEARN TO DRIVE LIKE A PRO manual, determined to get his license back. He’s nursing a grudge against my mom, who he believes caused him to forget how to drive by not letting him practice.
He whispers this to me at least once a conversation, as soon as she leaves the room. So we’re clear: My dad can’t remember how to open a door, can remember it’s Mom’s fault.
I thought it would be easy to be straight with him: “Dad, you can’t drive anymore because you have dementia.” Simple, yes? Truth. An end to his suspicion his loved ones are the source of his woes. But when I was sitting there, listening to his roster of complaints, I had this realization:
He has not understood any of those other interactions in which someone told him he’s demented. Not the driving, not when the nurses refused to allow him to donate blood (he can no longer answer the questions to give consent*), not when Mom had to practically wrestle a golf club out of his hand to prevent him from teeing off backwards on the course.
Its so easy, sitting in front of my dad, to imagine the old him — if I told him he’s demented, it would give him peace, or at least understanding, a tool he could use to make his way through an increasingly difficult world. Now I understand if I told him, I would only be one more painful memory in which someone hurt him for reasons he couldn’t quite comprehend.
*A nurse in training cried when she had to tell him she couldn’t take his blood. He remembers that clearly, and that there was some sort of test, but is totally baffled as to why he failed.