‘She is smiling while digging in her heels. I try. My brother tries. Dad does not try. He is tired. He is waiting. He has run out of words.’

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Although I haven’t written as often as I was, it isn’t because there are a shortage of things to share. But sometimes my days run together and before you know it a week has flown by and once again it’s Sunday.

Time to gather for our Sunday family breakfast. This was another good Sunday until it was time to go home. Mom ate well, took her pills and drank her coffee without spilling because her jerking didn’t appear to be active today. Our Aunt Jo (my dad’s only sibling and one of those aunt’s everyone loves) arrived from Florida Sunday morning, so we were all glad to have her join us for breakfast. She was sitting at the other end of the table and she is always fun to be around, so a lot of laughter was resonating down to our end. Mom would look down the table at them and you could almost feel the sadness as she went back to eating her breakfast. She knows what laughter is. She also knows she no longer understands what brings that wonderful sound to others. She still feels what she can’t understand. She continues eating.

Once everyone finishes we head out to our cars. When we get to mom and dad’s car there are about 8 of us standing around saying our goodbyes and seeing if we needed to help mom into the car. That’s when mom put on her breaks – digging her feet into the asphalt. We opened the car door and I offer to help her in. She said, “No.” What do you mean no? She usually doesn’t mind getting in the car. We try again. Another “No!” She pushed her way back to the passenger side door. We opened it and she pushed it closed. She didn’t want in the back either.

Now she has her own cheering team gathered around her wheelchair next to the car. We are taking turns trying to be the one she will hear and possibly capture a brief moment of understanding of what we are asking her to do and be willing to get in the car. She is smiling while still digging in her heels and not moving. I try. My brother tries, My aunt tries. Dad does not try. He is tired. He is standing near her. He is waiting. He has run out of words.

Becky Gacono/Our Journey Through Our Mom’s Dementia

Finally after about 10 minutes of a parking lot party she reaches for the door. I open it and she lifts herself from her chair with my help and we swing her onto the front seat. She looks at me and smiles and says, “Come with me,” as she moves over as much as she can to make room for me to sit beside her. I tell her that is not near enough room for me to share the seat with her. She keeps moving over. I tell her I have my car. She says OK quicker than I expected her to and I kiss her forehead and say ‘I love you’ and shut the door before she changes her mind.

We all look at each other for a moment not knowing whether to say something or not. We all know that deep down inside we want to cry. So we say nothing. We all turn and head to our cars. My husband puts his hand on my shoulder and all I can say is, “This sucks,” as we walk to our car. If I say more I’m afraid my tears may never stop flowing.

I get home and pack up my things to head to an Open House I’m having at a house I have listed. Luckily it is busy so it prevents me from thinking too much or looking back on our parking lot event. Today, I don’t want to look back. After my open house as I drive home I realize I don’t want to look forward either. It’s a strange way to feel. So as I have done a number of times in my life when things seem to be unbearable or overwhelming – I tell myself to get through today. No looking back. No looking forward. Just get through today.

I decide to stop at Dairy Queen on my way home. It is Dad’s favorite – he loves blizzards. I call and get everyone’s orders and head to their house with the goods. Everyone is in the living room and in a good mood. It is what I needed to see and feel to help me get through this day. I visit for awhile before heading home to my little corner of my world that seems to be gracious enough to bring me some sort of security and peace, if only until my next phone call.

“Hi Dad.”

Becky Gacono/Our Journey Through Our Mom’s Dementia

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Becky Gacono of Annville, Pennsylvania. She is chronicling her mother’s dementia journey on their Facebook page and in a series of posts for Love What Matters:

‘Umm… your mom is sitting on the floor. She tried to get up by herself.’ ‘I’ll be right there.’

‘I see Dad wiping his eyes. I realize he is crying.’ Elderly man devastated his wife with dementia thought ‘everyone left her’

Wife with dementia ‘listens’ to husband’s story for 15 minutes before cracking a joke, which ‘gives him a sliver of hope she is still there’

‘His love for her is palpable’: Doting husband’s explicit instructions for wife with dementia’s morning routine

‘I’ll get to her outfit later’: Daughter’s humorous attempt getting her mom with dementia to the doctor

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