Thankh You Mama (Part 1)

I’m sure that some of you are questioning if I really am as allergic to BFD (Bullshit, Fuckery and Drama) as I claim to be! If you’re a regular reader, or know me at all, you’ll know it really is the case, but there are certain circumstances where you can’t just dismiss it and walk away.

Sometimes it’s not just about you. Despite what you are dealing with personally, there’s a bigger picture. It all boils down to the type of person you are. My situation involves my mum, which to me is a no brainer. I’m not about to let anyone take the ‘berties with the woman who gave me life. Add to that the fact that she is now elderly and vulnerable, and trust me you’ve got a fight on your hands – no matter who you are! #RealTalk

Seven weeks ago we had to put my mum in respite care. I will eventually divulge the details that have lead up to this point but for now I want to tell you about the situation as it stands. So before any of my fellow brothers and sisters whip out The Black Bible and start quoting scriptures on thou shalt not abandon thy parents to a care home, let me set the record straight.

I would love nothing more than to have my mother either at peace in her own home or with me in mine, but at present that is not possible. Hear me when I say I have been down every avenue available to me, but the reality is without a substantial amount of cash I can’t change the circumstances. Whoever said money can’t buy you happiness was a liar. It’s what you’re willing to do for it and how you utilise it that effects how you feel about it, but that is another topic for another day.

To recap quickly from previous blogs, my mum originally hailed from the beautiful island of Antigua, is 83 years old and has had vascular dementia for 4 years. Her name is Dolly and she is 5ft nothing bless her! She was tiny as a baby, which is why she was named so as she resembled a doll. We are nothing alike in looks but I definitely take after her. She’s loving and cool ‘n’ all, but don’t fuck about or she won’t hold back in telling you about yourself…but that was before dementia. Now she’s still just as loving and cool but she’s lost a lot of her bite – for now anyway.

As Dementia and Alzheimer’s progress sufferers can become aggressive, sometimes quite severely so. Thankfully mum hasn’t reached that stage yet, but I have seen a few episodes from others and can totally understand some people’s lack of ability to cope. Nothing about it is easy. They are literally robbed of their mind and memories and it’s extremely hard to witness and absolutely heartbreaking.

In true West Indian fashion my mum was full of old sayings and proverbs. One of them is once a man, twice a child. It’s the truth. If you’re lucky enough to get to an old age, no matter how independent you may believe yourself to be, there will come a time when you will need somebody. If you’re truly lucky you will still have all of your faculties to some extent, but if you’re like my mum it really is like having a child.

Going back to The Black Bible, the confusion and misunderstanding of the scripture comes from the word abandon. No, thou shalt not abandon thy parents to a care home. Thine has the power and the glory to maketh ones elders twilight years as loving, comfortable and safe as possible, no matter where thine dwellings shall be. #NuDawnBible #OldTestament

I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard, “If you put them in a care home they will deteriorate quickly and die.” Here’s the part they forget to mention. That can be addressed and hindered if you spend a little time. That is literally all it takes, but it’s easier to put the onus on the care home. Don’t get me wrong, their ass is responsible too, but they can only provide so much. If they are slacking or lacking in their duties then that can be addressed (and believe me I’ve done so), but you can’t expect them to keep your memory alive in their residents minds.

I’m no expert but I’d hazard a guess that if you spend more time with a person with memory issues it’s more likely that they will recognise or at least respond to you as a familiar face. Naturally that’s not necessarily the case with full blown dementia, but if they are at my mums stage it’s crucial if you don’t want them to deteriorate faster. You can’t expect to have no contact for weeks on end then have them react to you like it was yesterday, especially when they are not fully compos mentis.

Myself and my twin have had every day she’s been there covered. Meaning that, even if it’s only for an hour, we have been to see and spend time with her. We want to try our best to keep her spirit alive and also keep an eye on her surroundings. She’s precious cargo and needs to be dealt with accordingly.

I know a lot of people who have lost their mothers and I feel privileged and blessed to still have mine here, regardless of how she is. Some, like my husband, lost theirs when they were just kids and I can’t imagine how that must feel. For those of us who have/had good ones the love and respect is immeasurable.

We put people in care homes for various reasons. Sometimes it’s not under our control but that doesn’t mean that because they are no longer under your or their own roof you should abandon and forget them.

I’m not suggesting you spend every minute of the day with them. We’ve all got shit to do, but a little time means a lot. I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with my mum for now so I’m making the most of it, but even when the time comes that I can’t spend as much time with her I guarantee you I will never just stop or leave it weeks on end unless I am physically unable to do so.

Without trying to sound conceited I hope (if I’m afforded the pleasure) that when I get old I have someone like myself or my brother looking out and taking care of me. It’s not guaranteed that just because you have kids they’ll be there to wipe your ass when you can’t.

Some family have questioned the type of people we are in accepting that mum is better off in respite care. Yet those same people are quick to forget she exists and are responsible for her being where she is. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

She is the longest surviving Merchant offspring to date. I have some tales of her life but I wish I had more stories to tell you about her. Unfortunately I missed the boat but hopefully it’s not too late for you.

Appreciate the life that gave you life! Make those memories. Listen to their tales of experience. Catalogue those favourite recipes and longtime remedies. Take pictures and videos and most importantly just show them some love and attention.

I thankh you mama for the nine months you carried us through. Now it’s our time to help carry you.

R.I.P to all those who have lost their lives this week.

Show Your Love, Stay Blessed & #CelebrateLife

3 replies
  1. Jill Duhaney Spencer
    Jill Duhaney Spencer says:

    Hay Dawn reading your blogs are getting me through this situation with my mum me and kershall are fighting hard trying to keep mum happy with our daily visits and on the other hand fighting hard as Dawn and Wayne constantly going to see mum for money as the home call me to let me know but it’s hard with the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s MATE!!


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