On a recent visit, my son and I helped “put up” a baby potted Christmas tree for her apartment. We added a string of lights that are battery-operated and got out the “jingle bells” to hang on the tree. My Mom asked if she could finish decorating the tree, so we moved on.
For the first few nights, I called my Mom to ask how the tree looked. I usually had to remind her how to turn on the lights and she would say the tree looked wonderful in her picture window.
Today, the tree can’t be found in her two room apartment. I take a tour of the community area’s to see if I can find it. I run into the woman who is the head nurse in Assisted Living. She tells me my Mom had a bad day yesterday. She said my Mom was bringing many of her things out into the community space and was agitated.
I start asking about other cues to my Mom’s health, and she shares that lately, my Mom is having more conflict with people in the community. Almost every time she leaves Assisted Living she creates a conflict. The residents in Independent Living are starting to move events she used to attend because she is making it unpleasant for the other residents.
When I return to the apartment, we do one final sweep and we find the Christmas tree in her bedroom behind a chair. She suggests we just leave it there. However, it’s a real tree and I’m surprised my Mom with a very green thumb doesn’t recognize it. We get it out and set it up on a plant stand. I just not sure how long it will last. Perplexed.
While I try to find reason to why my Mom hid the Christmas tree then didn’t want to pull it out from behind the chair, I remind myself that this disease makes no sense. Was my Mom hoping to leave it there so stuffing the tree behind a chair wouldn’t seem like a really odd thing to do? Probably. Should I feel guilty because I didn’t call her every night and ask about the tree? No! But I will. Deep inside you wonder if some shard of loneliness drove her to hide the tree. However, I continue to remind myself of all things I am doing to love her, support her and make her life as pleasant as I can … without loosing sight of my family and needs. Chanted.