Carol Jean, my mother, has settled into a stage that strikes me as smelling profoundly of adolescence. Everything she does, wears, or thinks, needs to be approved by her two closest girlfriends at her residence.
As it would be, of course, she’s chosen the two most opinionated, outspoken, hot-tempered, whip-tongued ladies (two of the few who are coherently conversational sometimes) to make up her inseparable trio.
If Francine and Ellie don’t immediately say they love her new haircut, she decides she despises it, and insists to go to a different hairdresser immediately.
If they’re wearing jeans and she’s wearing pants, she’ll run to go change her outfit, which takes her several hours if a caregiver isn’t available, due to her range of motion issues.
When Ellie and Francine mention a brand name of something they’re wearing or using (perfume, soap, hand lotion, etc.) and mom’s is different, she’ll throw it in the trash and call me, insisting that I drop what I’m doing and run her to the drugstore right away.
The restaurants she used to enjoy with me are no longer satisfying because “the girls” have never heard of them. She recently tried to send me on wild goose chase to find “some restaurant with the word TREE in it; we’re not sure what it’s called or where it is, but it has the word TREE, so let’s keep looking until we find it…”
Most frustrating of all, after being content with washable cotton clothing most of her life, she’s now obsessed with the stylish clothing Francine wears (Francine is loaded), and keeps trying to throw out and cut up her own clothes, in the hopes that I’ll have to take her shopping for some impractical blouses she can’t button that can only be dry cleaned!
Mom suddenly is desperate to wear heels because Francine does, even though she gave them up for foot health and safety over ten years ago, and she can barely balance using her walker in her orthopedically approved flats.
Her latest trick (I remember doing this!) is to gather up her girl trio right before I arrive to take her on an outing and tell me in front of them that she’s not going out if they can’t go too.
Besides not having the money to appease all her new whims, I’m starting to resent that all our time together lately has been spent with her begging me to take her places to keep up with the latest whims of the girlfriends. Yet I’m acutely and sheepishly aware that this could be so appropriately the great revenge, the karma eastern religions talk about.
I was so much worse than she’s being right now for a stretch of five or more years, so in that sense, I feel I might deserve this torture or worse. At least that mentality helps me laugh once in a while at the great irony of it. When she’s really driving me insane, I can always leave, an option she never had when I was dragging her through that stage of my life.
How is it that she didn’t run away and abandon her single mother post completely, or leave her ungrateful children stranded in some remote forest when we were on a long road trip and my sister and I whined and battled each other the whole way in the back seat?
I’m curious if this is a passing phase for mom, or if it will be around for a few years. Either way, I had never heard about this stage of dementia. Maybe Carol Jean is unique, but I doubt it. It makes sense to me that regression would go in reverse order and possibly hit all the developmental stages. Lots to look forward to!