It has been a little disheartening this week, visiting my mother. She has been so agitated and angry, with little clue as to why. My only recourse has been to work on distracting and cheering her up and so far I have been successful. I’m beginning to feel like I am her only lifeline to peace and it is a bit overwhelming.
Yesterday I arrived just as her caregiver was waiting by the bathroom door where Mother was moaning on the toilet about whatever unhappiness she was experiencing. Whitney, her regular helper, said, “Guess who is waiting to see you when you are done?” and it successfully broke Mother out of her rhythmic pattern as she found out the answer was “your daughter, Nancy!” Soon after that, while I sat waiting on her bed, she slipped back into her grouchiness and began repeating over and over, “I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!” Oh, poor Whitney. I wonder how often she is subjected to this kind of abuse. She seemed to take it in her stride and said, “It’s okay, you’ll love me tomorrow.”
Once Mother was back in her wheelchair and Whitney had gone away, I was able to get her quieted down and as the tears ran down her cheeks I tried to get her to articulate what was bothering her. Was it pain, sadness, some bad experience she could express? She seemed so frustrated, but unable to remember or speak what was upsetting her. I pushed away the anguish I was feeling for her and focused on turning things around. I opened the magazine I’d brought and got her looking at the pictures and sniffing those annoying cologne samples between the pages. When she’d broken the pattern of anger and tears, the world looked better and we took a walk down the hall to listen to a musician who was singing for the residents in the dining room.
Now and then her eyebrows would begin to furrow and I could see the dark clouds forming so I took preventative action and distracted her with something new. Just like handling a baby, I thought, after a week visiting with my 4-month old grandson. But, like a visit with an infant, I was able to leave her an hour and a half later smiling and content. I tried not to think about how long it might be before her caregivers once again had to deal with her bad moods.
As often happens, on my drive home a depression began to settle over my spirit. There is not a happy ending to this story, just a slow ride to Worse. So, just as I did for my mother, I worked on distracting myself with happier things and moving on with my life, such as it is. My own world, minus my mother’s agonies, is generally very pleasant and peaceful. Focus on that.