I knew Christmas was always going to be a challenge… Ma’s deteriorating mental state and the disengagement of some family and friends were my poison chalice. I was determined that Christmas was going to be one to remember, for me at least, as I’m not sure how much longer Ma will remember hers. As my ‘escape from Ma’ time is limited, my shopping was done mostly online. I cooked more goodies than usual and researched 101 recipes for the 6kg ham Ma insisted on buying (OMG).
The day before Christmas Eve I had Ma out for breakfast before shopping to buy the last minute groceries. (It never ceases to amaze me how much tucker she can pack in when it’s something she likes to eat.) The thick custard was finally bought in preparation for her trifle, which had been her fixation ever since the ham had been bought. (If she’d had her way, the trifle would have been made three weeks ago.) She was having a wee rest when she received a call that a couple of friends of ours had passed away. You could see her deflate with the news. She turned to me after the call and said she’d like to go to church on Christmas Day as she’d had such a horrible year she felt she’d like to go. (It must be over 10 years since she was at church.) She also informed me that she’d like purple hair. Which I did for her that evening. She also informed my that she would get it done properly next time if she liked it! She liked it!
Christmas Eve, I had her hard at work helping me put together ingredients for Christmas Day. She spent a couple of hours cutting stuff up and forming the ‘stuffing’ balls. We had Christmas music in the background. I had her in bed early after she ran out of steam. The trifle was at last in the fridge and she was very happy. Her hallucinations/delusions were not too bad and she was having what I call ‘good’ days. These are the days you treasure. They are also the days that lull you into a false sense of normalcy. (You would have thought I’d have learnt not get my hopes up… but I always do when she’s having good days).
Christmas Day dawned and my sister and I got her to church which she enjoyed. I then continued to cook and put together our lunch. You could see her eyes start to glaze over as the dementia took over and her mind started to stray once more. By the end of our late lunch she was drifting off into her alternate reality and I put her to bed. We’d had a wonderful couple of days to treasure.
The next couple of days she was away in her universe and I was in mine. She received calls and visits from some family, alas my brother was conspicuous by his absence of phone call or visit. He had phoned her a few weeks ago for the first time since September to inform her she was now a great grandmother. She cried to me later and told me that she thought she’d never hold that baby in her arms. My heart was breaking for her. Finally my brother organised a visit and she cradled that baby in her arms and just smiled and smiled. You could see the absolute joy she felt. It was only after they had left and we were together that she asked me who the girl with the baby was… I explained all of the relationships to her and she thanked me.
My heart was breaking once more. The people she sees the least of, she is now losing, in more ways than one.