Mom has been home from rehab now, for about a week. She’s in a wheelchair without the use of the left side of her body, with her husband of seventy plus years who has dementia. She is dependent on aides to get her out of bed, to get dressed, to toilet her, to shower her, and to get her into her wheelchair or into a chair, sofa or bed. She’s dependent on her husband to push her wheelchair to wherever she wants to go. She can do very little for herself.
The only thing she has is the power of no.
“Do you need me to call the doctor for you?”
“Do you want to go to a different doctor?” This was asked after a lengthy discussion of how unhappy she was with her eye doctor.
“Are you going to get your eye glass prescription filled now?”
“Would you like to have dinner downstairs, or would you like us to bring something in?”
“No.” Apparently, offering a choice isn't going to be a strategy that works.
“Shall I check this facility to see if you can get on the waiting list?”
“Would you like to at least go and see it?”
I get it, truly I do. But as I look toward the not-too-distant future I see that because she has been so unwilling to deal with what has been happening to her and Dad’s health over the past few years, we will come to a point where we will be forced to move them into any place that might have room rather than some place that we’ve been able to thoroughly check out and actually choose.
This is because no one (myself included) wants to make a decision. No one wants to deal with the role reversals of parents and children. No one wants to say “no” to mom.
Donna Kemper put aside her art career to care for a mother she hadn't seen in over a decade. For seven years she followed her mother's journey into dementia, caring for her and putting forgiveness into action.