On March 11, I introduced the story
Holding On To Mom
Here now, it begins.
Please feel free to comment as we take this journey with Olivia through the world of Dementia.
(Please note, again, this is a work of fiction threaded with the realities of the world of Dementia)
Olivia sat on the couch, her knees pressed into her chest, her eyes staring into space. She was remembering the day she had gone to visit her brother-in-law at the retirement home, the day she had met the tearful woman in the foyer. She had stopped to ask what was wrong.
“I can’t come here anymore,” the woman had stuttered through her tears. “She doesn’t know me…what is the sense.” She had stared at Olivia with pain-filled eyes.
“Who doesn’t know you?” Olivia had asked, taking a moment to show some care toward the poor woman, even though she, herself, was late for the Christmas festivities that had already started inside. She knew Jeremy would be looking for her.
“My mother.” The woman’s voice was barely audible. “I just can’t come here anymore.” She looked down at the floor.
Olivia paused a moment. This wasn’t her concern. She had heard of such cases––where a loved one starts to become confused and begins losing their memory, and how some of their family can’t handle what is happening. They decide to stay away so they won’t have to deal with this new reality in their lives. If it isn’t in their face, it will be nonexistent. Olivia reached out and gently laid a hand on the woman’s shoulder.
“It isn’t her fault,” she said tenderly. “She is still your mom…she is still there, inside. You just have to dig harder to find her.”
The woman looked at Olivia, her eyes blank. It appeared, for a moment, she might turn and go back inside to the party––to her mother’s side. But, at the last minute she heaved a deep sigh and headed out the door, shaking her head, mumbling: “I can’t…I just can’t.”
It had never crossed Olivia’s mind that she might face the same circumstances one day. But that day had arrived. In reality, there were signs long before the diagnosis, but the words punctured Olivia’s heart when the doctor pronounced, “Your mother has Dementia.”
Holding On To Mom is the story of Olivia’s journey of understanding the world of Dementia––the world in which her mother now lived.