05-05-1995

Mother died on this day. It is a long, sad story. I think Daddy tried to tell me that something was wrong before he died in August, 1990. I was not around much, therefore, did not pick up on the symptoms.

Mother had alzeheimer’s or dementia. She knew everyone up until the end, however, she was delusional. She saw snakes everywhere and perhaps this is because she was bitten by a rattlesnake twice in her life. It was devastating to watch as her mind lost more and more information. She was a great nurse and loved her patients and her family and friends. She was stalwart in her devotion to her community. However, her personality changed and she became mean at times. During the lucid moments, I would show her pictures of the brain from the psychology books and talk with her about the changes. She would remember her life and would agree that she was losing large chunks of time and during those times, she was the mom I knew as a child. Those moments did not last long.

She lived alone after Daddy died. She and my sister came to visit the Thanksgiving after Daddy died and was hit on the Natchez Trace going home. The car was totaled and Mother suffered a blow to the head. I think that exacerbated the problems she had had before Daddy died. She stopped driving; stayed at home in bed and became afraid at night. She began to call her sister, a neighbor and others seeing things that were not there…after dark. Her sister called my sister and said that there was something wrong with Mother and we needed to see about her. My sister did what she could; Mother would stay with her but would want to go home. Funny thing was when she got there she was ready to leave within 15 minutes.

I was still working. I taught Psychology at the Community College but had left that position to become the Public Relations Director of The Road To Tara Museum in Atlanta. After six months, I was ready to leave and go back to the community college and was promised my old position back by fall semester. So I left Atlanta and came back home and then went to care for Mother until fall.

I kept a diary of the days and the symptoms. At the end of the summer we divided up the furniture and sent her favorite pieces with her; she would live with my older brother…the minister on the Choctaw Reservation. Every three weeks, my sister would take her for a week…that was the plan.

My sister went to China for three weeks and told my mother not to die until she got back…of course, she was joking. When she got back from China, as usual she had a terrible cold. Mother caught this cold which turned into pneumonia.

After recovering, she was to be placed in the swing bed unit of the hospital until such time a place opened up in the nursing home which the four of us had agreed would be a better place for her. This never happened. The day she was to be moved to the swing bed unit, my older brother came and took her back to the reservation. My sister arrived to help the nurses move her; had a flat tire on the way and was late. When she arrived she saw our brother and his wife driving away with Mother and her tubes on the back seat. They never stopped and spoke to her about why; Mother waved to her. That was the last time she saw Mother alive.

Mother died 4 days later.

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