Yesterday was a good day for my mother. She spent almost all of it without me. I can’t help but wonder, is there a connection?
Dan attended a family party and brought her as his date. As soon as she woke up there was clarity to her thoughts that I haven’t seen in a long while. It was as if the sheer grey curtains that hang over her were pushed away, offering her mind a clearer view outside. I noticed it in her speech, the quick connections she made, even in how she looked at things and at me.
Instead of complaining, she was eager to get washed and dressed. She looked beautiful in white pants and a navy top, “rouge” on her cheeks and a nice shade of red lipstick. She left the house on Dan’s arm with a quick smile back at me.
About 2 hours into the day, I texted Dan.
“How’s it going?” - Me
“Excellent. Your Ma is interacting well.” – Dan
“She is a joy today.” – Dan
“Did she eat?” – Lisa
“She loved everything.” – Dan
It is true that Dan interacts with my mother in a gentler, more accepting way. He has an ease with her that I don’t have, and probably never did. Dan and I have discussed this and agree that he knows and loves her without the hindrance of a long and mostly painful history. I, on the other hand, have 41 years of not the best of times stacked up against and sticking to me. Hence, he comes to her fresh and I come to her stale and moldy.
In addition, her care is always at the forefront of my mind. I don’t view her as "my mother"...she is "my mother that I’m taking care of." There has to be a shiny patina of that all over me…anxiety, resentment, concern, fear, sadness. Though I try to keep those feelings in check, she’d have to have more than dementia not to sense these looming emotions.
Perhaps she is freer with Dan because he doesn’t view her as a sick woman he is burdened with (though he is her caretaker too), and hence she feels happier and healthier around him? Perhaps with me she is less radiant because my heavy emotions, no matter how I work to conceal them, steal her lightness?
I’m beginning to think this is the case.