A few days ago mother-in-law fell and hurt her head and her knees. She slipped on mother's urine. Mother hadn't made it to the bathroom in time.
Mother-in-law had been complaining. She no longer wanted to share a room with mother. Due to her own dementia she could not understand that mother is now blind and could not get around by herself.
Perhaps as a coping mechanism, mother-in-law convinced herself that mother is a bad person; that mother talked some old ladies into beating up mother-in-law; that mother told the whole nursing home that mother-in-law has a lover. This can be funny. But it's not. It's the end of a very long and loving friendship.
Mother was moved to another unit in the nursing home - a locked unit for persons in the last stages of Alzheimer's.
I sat in the multi-purpose room watching old people pacing, talking to themselves, crying, laughing. Some bickered and quarreled over old magazines and puzzle pieces, like little children. They say one returns to childhood in old age. Apparently, there's truth to that.
"I need to go back to the kitchen," mother said. "I can't see anything here. Why do they keep the lights off?"
"Mami, it's not the lights, it's your eyes. You're having trouble seeing."
"No I'm not. I could see perfectly before, in the kitchen. Take me there! It's so dark, I can't see a thing."
I calmed her down easily by changing the topic of conversation. That's the hidden blessing in the fact that she forgets everything a few seconds after it's been said.
According to quantum physics, the observer affects that which is being observed. I wondered how I changed the dynamics of this motley group. I wondered if staff behaved differently when family members are not present. I worried, that staff lacks the sensitivity, skill, caring necessary to respond to mother's needs.
A lady who had been sitting at our table, rambling on about her family and imaginary problems, suddenly turned to me and said,
"Don't worry. I'll help her. As long as I have life, I promise you, I'll help her."
Her senseless words, inserted so delicately into my reality, somehow gave me comfort.
But, my worries did not cease and gradually my mind was swirling towards feelings of despair, guilt and regret. I know the futility of these emotions, but the heart does not always harmonize with the mind.
There was a lady walking around, talking about a myriad of things. She sat in the empty chair beside me. As my emotions swelled and I was about to give in to tears, the lady looked at me.
"The people here are really nice. They take good care of us. They're very good people."
She said this with such lucidity and affirmation, that I was stunned.
I decided to accept the messages from these childlike beings. Life can speak to us so clearly sometimes. I guess we just have to listen.