May 2011

EEmma moves as if through thick soup all the time now. I thought it would pass. Her condition has precipitously declined in the past two weeks. Even with her walker, she steps gingerly and slowly as if she were navigating slick cobbles in a forest brook. She leans heavily on her walker – the kind with two wheels in the front and two legs in the back to which we affixed tennis balls – and drags it when she turns, scrapes it across the wood floor, like fingernails across a chalkboard. I checked the wheels to make sure they were turning freely; they were. I was thinking of adding ball bearings.

Emma’s hospice doctor visited. “She will move more and more slowly,” he predicted, holding a crystal ball on his lap – well, so it would seem, for his prediction pulled into the station on schedule. Her engines were already slow, had moved at that speed of slow for months; she was on a plateau. That’s how it goes. She’ll be the same for a long time and then something happens – no one seems to know what – and she declines: she may fall, or a sudden decline may trigger the fall – it’s the chicken vs. the egg thing. In any event, she is cruising for a fall now, so I have to watch her closely.

She is more confused about what to do next, or which way to turn, which foot to place first. She wants to sit down everywhere. She takes longer to process instructions and actions, if she completes the action at all, if she even receives the impulses.

She is hard of hearing: “Did she hear me?” I wonder. Or, more likely it appears that her brittle and crumbling synapses are taking longer and longer to toss the message across the void, that forest brook, as it were, so the one on the far side can catch it; or perhaps the forest is empty – no birds singing their messages, no nerve impulses, no neurotransmitters released, the synapses have disintegrated. I cannot reach her.

Samantha Mozart

14 Responses to Empty

  1. Marsha Lackey says:

    You are courageous Dear Carol. I am sending this to be certain it works on this phone. As I’ve been telling all my contacts, emails don’t work for me but FB & most websites will send. Please let me know if you receive this. Now I will read today’s entry to this challenge. ❤️ You!

  2. I’m sure it’s very hard watching a loved one go through such a difficult time, and it certainly comes across here — the emotional output is great and very touching for the reader. I’ve watched a love one become ill and perish, but it was relatively quick. It’s the long road that takes so much out of us. Thank you for sharing, Samantha.

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks, Silvia. So true. It’s long and you have no idea how long it’s going to be. I cannot begin to fathom how difficult it was for my mother. I often wondered what she was waiting for, especially near the end — maybe to see my brother, whom she kept asking for, but he lived a day’s drive away. Sitting holding her hand all night one night, when she was agitated and confused and wondered where she was, I told her it was OK to go. I think she grasped that, difficult as it was for me to say, and didn’t stick around much longer after that.

  3. Caregiving can be so complicated, emotionally and in every other way. We try so hard to understand, interpret, translate, find our way into the other person’s reality. Sometimes we get there. Many times we don’t. Learning to be patient with ourselves is almost as challenging as learning to be patient with the person for whom we’re caring.

    Beautiful post. So glad I found your blog.

    • sammozart says:

      So glad you came by, Kern, and for your wise and complimentary comments. Yes, patience for myself and the cared for has been a spiritual growth experience. And, to complicate matters, I kept wanting to say to my mother, “I TOLD you before to do this,” and of course she wasn’t a child and she wasn’t going to learn and remember. With her it was just the opposite.

  4. Marsha Lackey says:

    Carol, you write when such feeling and emotion, I seem more like an observer than a reader. Being a caregiver is not possible for everyone and very difficult for those who do the job. It is a job. One we are unprepared for, even when we have watched members of our own families care take. You did a wonderful, loving job.

    • sammozart says:

      Oh, thanks, Marsha. I do write with passion in general, I think. I suppose one of the reasons I became caregiver for my mother is that I had watched family members taking care of the elderly in our family while I had carefully avoided it, living out on the West Coast while they were all here on the East Coast. But, the one with Mother, I could not in good conscience walk away from. Nevertheless, many times in the midst of a crisis I said, “I can’t do this! I just can’t do this!” Then, I’d go ahead and do it.

  5. Hi Samantha, I nearly used the term thick fog to write about my own mum’s deterioration. I look forward to reading more. I must tell you it was extremely difficult to find your blog. Your google plus page needs to be updated with this blog link. it currently has the salmon salad and mozart dot com address that takes me to an advertising page for replica watches… if it it weren’t for the connection between ourselves and Susan Scott I may not have bothered investigating further… i eventually found you through your good reads profile, even your amazon page has the salmon salad address on it. Thanks and all the best – i find adding a link to the comments (like I have done below also helps
    Reflex Reactions

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks for visiting and commenting, Ida. Odd we have trouble connecting when we share this common caregiving experience. I had trouble finding you, too. Finally had to google you by your name and add Reflex Reactions to connect, although Susan helped ultimately. I apologize for your difficulty. My computer has been down since October and I am using a notebook computer to connect to my blog and to Facebook, but will not have access to my personal files for about another week when I get my repaired computer back. So, I have not kept up with Google +, which I rarely visit, anyway; nor have I been to Goodreads, though smart of you to think of going there, and to Amazon. So, it is by a thin thread that I am able to connect online to write these A-Zs, prodded to do by Susan. Also, when I changed my blog domain name and let the old Salmon Salad and Mozart expire, I lost my blog and it took months for my web hosts to restore the files, which were actually on their server, but hidden.

      OK, so this is a whole blog post right here. Thank you for reminding me of these outdated links. I’ll work on changing them. Important. Posting a link is a good idea, too, on the comment.

      Thick fog is another way I view my situation with my mother and her dementia. I wrote a poem, somewhat related, about it. I look forward to reading more of your stories of your experience. Thanks again for sharing them.

      And, isn’t Susan wonderful? She’s a master at following through and connecting people, among other talents.

  6. Pat Garcia says:

    I felt your pain in this article. It is hard to watch a person whom you love degenerate. You keep trying to make it better and you find that you cannot. Yet, I believe that Emma recognised your love and care for her. There were times when only for a few minutes that she recognised who you were and was glad that you were there.

    • sammozart says:

      This is true, Patricia. She did always know that I was her daughter and my name. But she often was not pleased with me. 🙂

      Yes, there were those brief moments near the end that she’d come back. Those times proved to be red herrings, though, precipitating the next decline, from which she never recovered.

      Thank you, Patricia.


  7. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Watching the decline of your mother is a horrific experience. Waiting for the next bump in the road and not knowing when it will hit. You had great patience! I hope you have recovered from your experience. It takes time.

    • sammozart says:

      Oh, I don’t know that either of us was that patient, Gwynn. The experience teaches patience, though, and the awareness that you just have to let go sometimes and have faith and trust.

      The fallout persists, both the positive and negative aspects.