The amyloid plaque tangles have created two dueling personas inside Mom’s brain. On the left, our beloved Rosie Posie; on the right a scared, but forever fiesty woman who often accuses her children and others of commiting heinous acts against her.
What a fucking shit show. That, my dear, is what I was thinking when I got a frantic call from Li last week. On one of Mom’s escapades, she paid ZERO mind to the barbed wire fence that is supposed to keep trespassers like herself out of Arlington Lakes Golf Course. Instead, she opted to enter the course through a breach in the fence and onto the golf course she roamed amidst golf carts, golf balls, and um, well a myriad of foursomes on the tee.
Li: Jodi. OHMYGOD. You have to come. Your mom, she’s on the golf course. Jesus. She’s by the water.
Me: What? Fuck. Where are you?
Li: I don’t know. She went walking. Wouldn’t stop. I think we are by Harvard/White Oak? I don’t know. We are in the trees.
Me: Fuck. Jesus. Ok. I’m coming.
Mind you, when I took this call I was sitting in a teeny tiny cube @ The Arlington Heights Senior Center with this nice woman from Catholic Charities. I had just turned in my FMLA paperwork and wanted to find out about applying to be Dad’s full-time caregiver, but I digress. One story at a time.
I thank the nice woman and she assures me there is no explanation necessary. After all, I was basically sitting on her lap in her cube. She heard the entire exchange. She hands me a piece of paper with phone numbers that I will never use for a stupid idea that doesn’t even matter and gives me a look like Good-God-What-are-you-doing?-and-damn- I -feel -sorry- for-you.
Nobody got time for a pity party. Now a shit show, though…..Plenty O’ Time for that.
Remember, I’m just doing the doing. Today, the doing requires me to persuade Mom to come home with me.
Joooddddiiiii! We are here! Joooodddiiii!!
I inadvertently drive right by them. Making a 3-point turn in the middle of White Oak, I pull up and there is Mom. She reminds me of one of those little people statues you place on top a wedding cake, except without the gleaming smile, clean, glossy hair, and pretty dress. Mom’s face a mix of fear and confusion, the concrete stoop her pedestal. The barbed wire fence her cage.
Oh, Hi, Mom.
I make sure she can hear the smile as I speak to her.
Her greeting communicates she is OVER IT. Zero fucks she cares to give me or anyone else in that moment. She says hello because even with her memory gone, she is always polite.
I want to go HOME!
Now, there are three problems with that request:
- Mom is pulling and banging on a barbed wire fence which will not make an exit easy
- That fence has a lock on it that she tussles
- She is surrounded by trees with no clear path out
Mom, you are going to cut your hands. The fence is sharp. PLEASE Mom. You gotta stop grabbing it. I want to take you home, but you can’t get out this way.
I don’t care if I cut my hands. I wanna go HOMMMEEEE!
Li is busy negotiating with Mom to follow her through the bushes, but Mom is not having it.
I am not going with you! You are a bad woman! You keep hitting me!
The allegations of abuse continue. I literally have no idea how I will get her home.
I am starting to get scared. Mom is strong and pulling at the fence with such force, I am not sure how she’s not cut her hands yet.
For the first time since the inception of this disease, I consider calling the police on my own mother. I don’t see a way out.
She beats me to the punch!
I‘m gonna call the police on you!
Mom, well that’s funny. I was thinking the same thing. I don’t want to have to call the police, but you have to calm down. Li is trying to help you.
I stand opposite of Mom with the barbed wire between us.
Don’t tell me what to do. I don’t have to calm down. You are so mean to me. I hate you!
With this disease, every day, every moment is different. Some days are better. Some days are a hell I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Today, I’m realizing that I’ve made the situation worse. She is escalating because I am trying to reason with the version of herself that makes such a hearts, stars, rainbows ending highly unlikely.
Li and I agree that I get into the golf course and attempt to lead Mom out. So, I drive to the opening in the fence and walk the 18th tee before getting to Mom and Li. I imagine golfers are like, WTF? But, whatever.
The fun and games continue.
Look, there’s your daughter, Jodi. She’s come to get you, Rose.
Hey, Mom. Let’s go home, ok?
In this moment, I try to imagine what my Mom sees and feels. From her perspective, atop the concrete stoop, there is a mess of bushes, sticks, trees, with no discernable way out. She is in unfamiliar territory with people she doesn’t recognize. And I am asking her to take a leap of faith and trust me.
I pull her. She fights back.
I stop. We are quiet. Mom’s panting. She is beginning to get tired. Being afraid takes energy.
Just then, I channel Dad and am reminded of what he would say to her when she is struggling.
You’re doing good, Mom.
You’re doing real good, Mom.
That’s right. You’re alright.
She hesitantly takes my hand and I lead her out of the trees.