|Summer 2008, picnic in NJ, Physically, Mom looked just fine.|
Post 3: The Beginning– PART I- Acknowledgement.
(Written from the persepctive of Betsy)
In hindsight, there were earlier signs. Dad said he started noticing things were “off” six-eight months prior to the holidays, but was waiting to see if anyone noticed. Heidi noticed that Mom had become more irritable about small things, but decided it to be menopause – Mom was 56 after all.
For me, it was July 2007 when I first noticed (but only in retrospect; realization of what I was seeing did not come until Christmas). Mom helped me move out of Penn State and into Baltimore. When we drove down to Baltimore to apartment shop I was constantly frustrated. She seemed to just not be listening to me. I was driving and she was reading the directions. She would say left and when I went left she would frantically say, “no the other way!” Or when I asked her what she thought of an apartment, her opinion was generic and lacking to say the least. I was nervous. I was leaving college and shopping for my first “adult” apartment. I had spent my entire life leaning on my mom under stressful situations, and she always leaned back, took charge and made things right. But this particular weekend, mom was more of a stander by than my rock. I got so angry at her. I yelled, and she didn’t yell back. I’ll never forget her sitting in the car next to me, nervous and unsure. And over the next few months, I became frustrated again, on different instances but all for the same reason. I felt like she wasn’t listening, her responses were not what I needed when I tried to lean on my rock.
I’m so sorry, Mom. Retrospection comes with guilt and I will apologize for the rest of my days…
It was now Christmas of 2007. By now, we (the 5 of us) were scattered between Arizona, York PA, Virginia, Maryland and Robert Morris University. We were all back at Mom and Dad’s for the holidays. The earlier signs – moments in July, August…Thanksgiving… when we individually had each raised an eyebrow, were coming to head now. We are all home at the same time for once and all of our stories were colliding. We cant ignore what is in front of us any longer.
Adam found envelopes Mom had addressed and had scratched the zip code out and re-written it.
Heidi watched Mom call to make reservations for dinner and she was having problems spelling our last name – HALL. But it wasn’t like she forgot how to spell it, it was like she could not say the letters her mind wanted to say.
For Christmas Eve dinner, we always had Lasagna. Christina walked into the kitchen as Mom was finishing up. Mom was looking at the dish, knowing something wasn’t right. Tina saw the pot where the noodles were boiled in her peripheral and walked over to confirm what she thought she saw – the noodles were still in the water. Mom had put the entire lasagna together and forgotten about the noodles.
The whole holiday season my mother was having problems with finding the right words to say and getting names mixed up. It was common for my mom to mix up our names, but everything else was not right.
And finally, it was time we acknowledged something was going on.
We pulled Dad aside and he admitted he had been noticing things as well but was waiting for us (the 5 “kids”) to come home and see if we noticed anything.
I don’t remember all the details of when we talked to mom, but I remember Christina gently showing mom the envelope with the zip code scratched out more than once. I remember mom crying softly and saying she didn’t know what to do. Tina gave her a hug and said it could have been a mini stroke, it could be anything and we might be able to get it fixed, but the first step was to see a doctor. Mom nodded in agreement.