A lovely picture and a heartbreaking story

My mother has dementia. Her doctor says she could easily live ten more years. I don’t want her to suffer that. I watched her memory deteriorate over the past decade, attempting over and over again to alert her and my brother to what I saw. They teamed up to shout me down. Now my Mom is paying the price. Ten years ago she might have had time to devote herself to her health, at the very least find some kind of stimulation in outings and people instead of living like a hermit. I think it was two years after my father’s death in 2007 when she suffered a psychotic depression. She ended up at CAMH in Toronto after a suicide attempt. From there they enrolled her in an inpatient program that allowed her to spend weekends at home. So I moved to Toronto, where I hadn’t lived for ten years, and did nothing for the month my Mom was in residence. By nothing, I mean that every morning I would get up around nine, go to a cafe with a shady patio, read one of Foucault’s lectures, which are page-turners, and then do none of my own work. I never read a second lecture on any given day, never channeled what I had read into my scholarship. I think I was on Second Life for hours every day, putting in the time until I could make my 90-minute walk to visit my Mom at the loony bin, as I called it. Native Torontonians of a certain age will remember it was referred to as “999,” after the street address. They changed the number to 1001 to combat the stigma conjured by a number as ominous as 999. (What’s scarier than the Beast? Mentally ill Torontonians!) Mom didn’t see the point of the program, refused to talk about herself, and not-so-secretly admired the teenage depressives who told the clinicians that they were full of shit. In the end, the depression receded but not because Mom did the work of getting better. She just lucked out.

Now there is neither work nor luck in the offing. Over the weekend I encountered for the first time a woman who was hopelessly confused about taking pills and who kept trying to get things sorted with no success. No notes, neither hers nor mine, can keep her focused. She writes the same note every day on the same piece of paper and it only registers while I’m dictating it. Phone call reminders worked for a few days, but then it became apparent that Mom was taking pills when she wasn’t supposed to. And denying she’d had calls from the care worker, and bitching about the calls being ineffectual when she wasn’t denying. In the early summer, I spent ten glorious days with her. This was longer than the five I’d planned because she went into Emergency the day before I was going to leave and it would have been rude to say “Good thing that wasn’t a stroke, Mom, because I’m leaving town tomorrow.” She was so sweet and open. I used eye contact and gentle touch when she was sad or worried, and it helped. I left Toronto loving her and loving the city. Her mood changed once the caretaker and the cleaning person and the nurse started their shifts. Eight hours a week of contact with other humans in her home has been enough to turn my mother into a bear. She’s threatening to move out so that the others can move in. Funny that, since it looks like her resistance to in-home care is going to lead to living in a retirement home, something she has always sworn she would never do. She’s also threatened to throw herself off a bridge. There’s nothing funny about that.

Mom rejects the diagnosis of dementia and won’t accept that her memory is bad. She just wants this problem of taking her pills to be resolved. She gets no comfort in knowing she will be called and talked through the process each time. Earlier this summer, when I loved my mother and Toronto, I considered moving there for the warm months, taking a room in a student house in the Annex. I thought these could be the last few months Mom would know who I am and that I should be there to enjoy them with her. Tomorrow I am going to spend a week with her, holding down the fort until my brother, who lives in England, can stay to “train” her to take her meds and convince her to go into a residence. I don’t know if he can pull that off in three weeks. I do know that one day soon I am once again going to be staying in her apartment while she is somewhere else in the city, being ill. The residence we’d like to see her settle into is only five minutes away, so I won’t be excusing intellectual inactivity by taking exhausting healthful walks. And I hope I won’t be so sad for her and so depressed myself that I spend all my free time on Second Life. I’ve built a better first life for myself in the years since that summer Mom was in the loony bin, fighting my own mental illness, finding a kind of calling in rope, finally completing—just today—an essay I’ve worked on for four summers and a couple of Christmas breaks. I didn’t read all of Foucault’s lectures, just enough to know he never really discusses biopolitics, just gets bogged down in governmentality, so there’s no point going back to that cure-all. I will instead read about person-centered care for people with dementia, find ways to be kind to my mother, and fight my instinct to run the fuck away.

Credits
Violent Seduction – Iki’s Look Dress (rare gacha at epiphany)
Violent Seduction – Iki’s Look Bag (Pink) (gacha at epiphany)
Violent Seduction – Iki’s Look Beret (White) (gacha at epiphany)
tram, D428 hair / maroon
LERONSO// Lelutka/Group gift/ Skin “Minori” – snow (with makeup)
Zibska, Poly eye makeup gift (gone, over, ended, where were you?)
.LeLutka.Head.Simone 3.0
Maitreya Mesh Body – Lara V4.1
Pure Poison – Pointy Nails – Hearts – Maitreya – (VIP group gift)
THIS IS WRONG, Koi tattoo UNISEX (LUCKY CHAIRS)
location: Hitogata

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