We're back in Starkpatch, MS, for a bit and we just got in from a fabulous evening out with friends, dining at a great new Japanese restaurant (which is run by a bunch of Mandarin Chinese, as far as we could tell), scarfing sushi, crispy fried fish and hot saki. Good stuff. I can't recall the name of it, but it's on Stark Road, in case you're in the neighborhood.
We've spent the last couple days down in Wayne County,
MS, visiting my Aunt, Uncle and Cousin and doing the late Christmas
thing with them. We also visited my Mamaw, who is still in her resident
care home. Can't say that this visit went as well as the one last month. I suppose it could have been worse, though.
It was not one of Mamaw's good days. Unlike last
time, when she was semi-energetic and attentive, this time she mostly
slept. When she was awake, she was kind of confused, though we did
manage to get a smile out of her when we told her we'd helped clean her
house and fiercely missed her cooking. It was not an easy visit for
us, though. She's not doing well and is getting progressively worse.
She had lost a lot of weight since even our Thanksgiving visit, and she
didn't have that much weight available to lose in the first place. She
is skin and bones at this point, wrapped up in blankets in her bed where
she spends most of her time sleeping. Her Alzheimers has progressed to
the point where she can no longer swallow properly on most days and
she's not much interested in food to begin with. They're feeding her as
many cans of Ensure as they can get down her, which is, again, not many
on most days. Doctors have already begun discussing the possibility of
a feeding tube with my aunt, which is a prospect none of us want to see
happen. Mamaw made her wishes clear that she didn't want to wind up
like that. We think she would hate it if she knew she was in the
residence care home at all, which thankfully she doesn't seem to.
Mamaw was a terribly private person in life, very
quiet and reserved and unwilling to be beholden to anyone nor to have
people sticking noses into her business. Those traits as well as her
hearing loss helped mask the extent of her condition for quite some
time. No one was even aware she had any mental problems until she began
forgetting names of close family members, or calling them by the wrong
names, or imagining that she had house guests when there were none.
Looking back, we can see that there were lots of signs, but most of
these signs could also be interpreted any number of other, less harmful
ways, so it's no wonder they were missed. You could chalk any number of
things up to bad eyesight, loss of hearing or simple frailty, only
seeing their true significance after the fact. I now look back on the
conversations I've had with her over the past five years and I can see
that even before the disease began they were much the same as after.
The only time I can really pin down a major warning sign is when I
called her in April of this year and she seemed to think I was my sister
for a few seconds. (For those just joining us, I'm male and have a
fairly deep voice, whereas my sister does not.)
I keep praying that God will call her home, reuniting
her with the souls of her own grandmother (who Mamaw evidently cared for
in much this same way when she was much younger--she's actually
mentioned this in the past few months), her parents, her husband, her
brothers and that of her daughter, my mother. Barring that, I pray that
God will give her comfort in the days to come.
If you're inclined to prayer, how bout say one on her
behalf. You can refer to her as Miss Bessie, if you'd like a name to
use. Please say one for my Aunt Dora too. She's having to make most of
the hard decisions here and I pray for God to give her guidance and
While we're at it, please also say a prayer or two for
my Uncle Chuck, on my Dad's side of the family, in Missouri. He just
underwent double bypass surgery this afternoon. From what I'm told,
he's doing well so far, particularly since the surgery was supposed to
be triple bypass, but the surgeons scaled it back when they saw he
didn't need all three. He and his family are going through the ringer
on this, so they could all use positive thoughts and prayers.