First, in the hospital, after heart surgery. Mom has Alzheimer’s, and when I would return from getting a meal, she would in absolute terror say she thought I had abandoned her, and she had no idea where she was or what all the noises were. She used to be anxious, but I had some success in creating “a world of love” wherein her general disposition was relaxed and happy, and I didn’t want anxiety to be her new norm, so I slept in the hospital, on the floor, making her feel safe. One day I lay in the bed while she ate – she needed motivation to sit upright longer, and she felt good giving me an opportunity to rest. Eventually, one day I snuggled into the hospital bed with her. Then I slept in bed overnight, to the consternation of a few staff, and the awed admiration of many.
When we returned home, I didn’t want her to become dependent on me being beside her, so I slept in my own bed, but her confusion about everything meant I was awoken a dozen times every night. I tried calling out instructions to her (“Reach to the right, turn on the light”), but often I had to go to her room.
I lay next to her, and she felt secure. I slept next to her, and awoke to find she had gotten herself to the bathroom. With me next to her, “all is right in the world”, and she is secure enough to do things on her own, knowing I’m there.
There once was a time I saw Mom as an obstacle between me and marriage – what woman would want a man with a mom with Alzheimer’s? But Mom has become perhaps my greatest … accessory … – women experience life in our family, and want to move in.
If I get married while Mom’s still alive, I’ll sleep with my wife on our wedding night, and after that, perhaps the three of us will snuggle together. My .. ‘prospects’ .. would rather enjoy that. Sometimes. If Mom doesn’t wake us up 9 times per night.
Now that she is used to me sleeping next to her, if I am away, her world will be even more unfamiliar to her. And if ever she moves into a nursing home, …, will one of the staff sleep with her? Will I move in? Will teddy bear keep her company? Will God?
(I have encouraged imaginative dialogue with Teddy, and real, imaginative dialogue with God, but I don’t think Mom will be satisfied with them alone.)
*Details of the hospital saga are forthcoming in a future post, which will be linked to from here.