TODAY IN MAMA’S LIFE
Note: These are events that actually happened today, April 29, 2021. I thought it was just going to be any old day, but no, Mama was particularly finnicky – with eating, with looking for people, with her diaper; and so I decided to write it all out. I will start at 12 midnight this morning.
12:00am – E and I went to sleep after making a midnight snack of mashed banana for Mama to eat. She had been demanding that someone go to the kitchen and fix dinner, not understanding when we explained that it was almost midnight and that we’d already had dinner hours before. Finally, I’d thought to ask if she was hungry, to which she (grudgingly) admitted that she was.
2:00am – Mama got up and walked towards the bedroom door but stopped when she reached our bed. E asked where she was going, and she answered, “To the bathroom.” He waited for her to continue walking but she turned around and went back to her bed. After a few seconds, she started walking back towards the door. Three times she kept walking in circles until she eventually got to the bathroom and did her thing.
5:00am – A repeat of her 2:00 exercise, only this time, she told E to go to the kitchen and start preparing breakfast, to which E protested that it was still too early for that.
8:00am – I reluctantly got out of bed, still sleepy from all the noises that kept waking me up in the early morning. Mama was already on the sofa in the family room and when I passed her to do my wake-up routine, she called to me and demanded that I proceed to the kitchen to make her something to eat.
9:00am – I gave Mama her breakfast of mashed rice and shrimp, which was a leftover of last night’s dinner, which she had apparently enjoyed. This meal, however, must not have met her satisfaction because she didn’t open her mouth as wide.
11:00am – She came downstairs to see what E and I were doing and I was going upstairs to go to the bathroom, so we met halfway. That was when I smelled something awful and discovered that she had removed her diaper, panty and pants. E suggested we give her a bath so that she be clean all over. After, I put a new set (diaper, panty and pants) on her, admonishing her not to remove them so soon.
2:00pm – Because breakfast was late, I decided that lunch would be delayed as well. This time, I boiled some cabbage to make into soup to give flavor to the meal, and perhaps make it more delicious. No such luck. She still didn’t open her mouth very wide. After lunch, I switched on the TV to a food channel, which she seemed to enjoy (because she was quiet for a while).
4:30pm – Mama got up from the sofa and walked to the top of the stairs where she could see me at the dining table, to tell me to be the one to prepare food for dinner. I said I would. One minute later, she came back to the top of the stairs and reminded me that I would be the one to prepare food for dinner. Again, I said that I would. Another minute later, she came back with the same reminder. I thought to ask if she was hungry, even though it was only two hours since I’d fed her, but she shook her head, No, and went back to the sofa.
4:40pm – Fourth reminder. After getting my attention, she gestured that she was going to lie down. Apparently, she was worried that dinner wasn’t going to get served because she wasn’t the one doing the preparations. She doesn’t remember that I have been exclusively cooking for her and E for the last 10 years or so.
5:00pm – Fifth reminder. She came down the stairs (on her own, she still has good balance), but seemed surprised to see me (G) standing in the kitchen and doing cooking stuff. I was making banana fritters. As soon as she sat down at the dining table, she asked, “Where is N?” N is my eldest sister. I answered, In Australia. She grunted in surprise and disbelief. “Where is B?” B is my eldest brother. In the US, I replied. Again, her expression showed that she didn’t believe me. I continued to fry banana, and when I looked up again, she had stood and was shuffling back to where she came from.
5:19pm – Sixth reminder “G! G! G–!” She’s like that when I ignore her. Yes, Ma? I called out. “Ikaw magprepare sa food, ha? (You be the one to prepare our food, okay?)” She gestured that she would be in the family room. Ok, Ma, I said.
5:21pm – Seventh reminder.
6:30pm – Her food was ready: rice with beef and veggies. For me, it smelled good (like corned beef) and tasted good. I wanted to lick the spoon! And since Mama had become a meat-eater since her diagnosis, I figured that she would definitely enjoy this meal… I spoke too soon. About twenty semi-spoonfuls later, she refused to open her mouth, saying she didn’t want to eat anymore because she was full. Instinct told me that she would be asking for food again soon, so I just put the bowl down on the table.
6:50pm – True enough, she called to E to demand that she be fed already. So, I brought the bowl and fed her a few more semi-spoonfuls. After about five minutes, she shook her head again. End of second installment.
8:00pm – It was time to feed the dogs but I didn’t want to throw Mama’s unfinished food into the pot, so I went to make a third attempt to complete the meal. Lo and behold! She was cooperative and finished the bowl! What made her do it? I don’t have the faintest idea.
9:00pm – It’s time for bed and I put on a new diaper (she had removed the previous one already because she’d pooped in it) and made sure it was secure.
10:00pm – Out of the blue, she asked where an old family friend was. I told her he had died already. She asked where his wife was. I answered that the family had moved to Baguio. She asked if the wife was living in their old house, which was in the compound across the road from our house. I repeated my answer about them moving to Baguio. Then she asked if we were going to leave our house like they did. I replied, No, of course not.
11:59pm – I am still giving answers to the same line of questions. Will I be able to sleep tonight? I doubt it.
Author’s Note: If anyone can relate to my experiences with caring for an Alzheimer’s patient, then my need to write them all down has served its purpose.