My father and I started talking about my mother’s state of mind in August of 2004. I had noticed small things. Information duplicated in subsequent e-mails here and there. I contacted my father when she e-mailed me about something (heck if I can recall what it was about!), then called me about it 36 hours later and the next day, e-mailed me about it again. Each subsequent time she informed me, she didn’t realize she’d already let me know. Today, she can ask the same question minutes, sometimes seconds apart.
I asked dad to call me privately, which he did a few days later. As expected, he had been observing behavior he found concerning too, but it was different. This wasn’t surprising given the differences in our communication/time spent with her. On their next trip off the Island, he and I ran and errand together and stopped for a soda. We lingered for 40-60 minutes. He was very frustrated and bemused sharing, for instance, that he’d walk into the kitchen to find all the drawers (16) open. He’d close them, return to what he was doing and next time he came in, the kitchen would look just the same. Nine years of experience, research and now with a daughter who works with the elderly, I understand this behavior was likely due to her looking for something, not finding it and then not recalling that she’d looked through all those drawers.
My father was never the sort of man to insist that his wife hustle her pretty little tush to the doctor to find out what the heck was/is wrong. This is the one place I wish he had exhibited that trait. For over 8 years, all but 5 months of which my father was ill, he was looking out for her while she looked out for him. She couldn’t keep track of his appointments without calling the doctors’ offices again and again, she never knew what direction to turn the wheel of their car (I now realize this is why she made him go everywhere with her, no matter how he was feeling), much less keep track of which direction the restroom was in a clinic they visited up to 24 times a year for over 8 years. She downplayed everything that could or might affect their lives up to and including when my father lay in the hospital dying. And afterwards, she called friends and family repeatedly to let them know dad had passed away, kinda like how I started writing about this post. Only it’s so much worse now.
Despite her doctor suggesting she go to neurology, she refuses. I am at the point where I am going to make an appointment for her and lie to her. She won’t remember that she didn’t agree to go.