For Mother’s Day, I wanted to give Mom something we could experience together. Neither of us had ever had a pedicure before, so I took her to the nail salon for a mother-daughter date today. We had a great time! It was so good to hang out with her, get to relax together, and to see her giggling!
I hope you’ll allow me to indulge in some gratuitous detail-keeping. I want to remember these moments.
Mom originally said she wanted a purple polish, but ended up choosing this pretty, shimmery blush pink instead. When it went on her toes, she seemed concerned that it wasn’t purple, but when I asked her if she liked the way it looked, she responded with a very enthusiastic, “yes!”, so I told her she’d made the right choice :). She kept talking about how pretty it was, so I’m glad she went with her gut instead of choosing something she thought she wanted but liked less. I chose my favorite shade of teal (which happens to match my favorite sandals). Afterward, we went for smoothies. Mom got chocolate (of course) and I got pineapple.
These days, Mom and I don’t talk about a whole lot beyond what’s happening in the moment (“It’s hot out!” “This is yummy!” “Aw, look at that little girl” “I love that color” “I’m so glad to be here with you”), but I told her about obedience training with my dog, friends who had babies this week, and about a new band I’ve been listening to. She expressed her relief to be home and her worry that Dad’s working too hard. We’ve had these conversations over and over, but I remind myself that they deepen our connection even if the information isn’t new.
The last time I wrote about her dementia here on the blog, I said that I was glad she’s at least happy. Well, she is happy when her kids are around, but she seems to be making an effort to be happy and hopeful the rest of the time. She’s shared with me that she’s scared of what the future may bring. She’s aware that things will probably get worse. She knows Dad is stressed, that her kids are sad, that she’s not as able as she used to be.
I don’t want to overstate her condition – she is still in the beginning stages of dementia. She’s not catatonic. It could be worse. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. It still sucks.
I always feel a little guilty talking about this publicly – am I betraying my sweet mother’s trust? I don’t know. I try to keep it focused on my feelings instead of sharing the specifics of her struggles. This is part of my story, and I want to write about it. So many of you have written me empathetic and encouraging messages (I can’t reply to them all, but I want y’all to know that they mean a lot to me!) so I know that sharing my experience has been valuable to others. I just hope I’m not betraying her. I don’t really know what the right thing is.
Dementia is still a cloud looming over us when we spend time together, but I feel like I am getting better about dealing with it. I don’t feel such deep sorrow every time I speak with her. I didn’t come home from our date today and sob like I would’ve in the past. I’m sad, but I’m (still) learning to cherish who she is now. She’s more emotive, friendly, silly, affectionate, she’s easily delighted, her love feels like it’s concentrated. These are all good things.
I still wish I could wish her illness away. But since I can’t do that, I will keep focusing on the positives. I’ll keep giggling with her, snuggling with her, delighting with her, and spending as much time as I can making new memories with her.
I will always be grateful that I’m her daughter.