Look away…

 

She constantly refused to look into a mirror, any mirror.

My mother.

It wasn’t because of vanity or due to failing eyesight.

She could see clearly, without eyeglasses, towards the end of her life.

It didn’t matter.

The reflection staring back was unrecognizable

To her.

That person, that old woman with gray hair and wrinkled skin was someone else.  “A witch” she often said as she quickly looked away from what she had determined was some creature hiding in the glass.  She would cover her face with both hands.   It wasn’t her, not by any means;  she was young,  in her twenties, still with dark hair and red lipstick.

In her mind.

Mother lived in long ago realities; the aging process stopped and did a U-turn back about fifty or more years once Alzheimer’s took control.   In some ways, I was envious.  She didn’t have to deal with life’s sorrows and responsibilities but that was nothing new.   For as long as I could painfully remember she always managed to look away from bothersome issues,  seeing only what she wanted.  Comfortable, happy reflections.


I was never her mirror of choice.




Flicker of Inspiration Prompt #18: Objects In the Mirror

It’s a standard warning on car mirrors: “Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear”. Mirrors don’t always give a truly honest reflection. Sometimes, the mirror is warped; sometimes, it’s only our perceptions. When Alice went into her mirror, it was the world itself that was distorted. And yet at times, the mirror will show you true things that you weren’t aware of; something around a corner, or behind you, or on another spectral plane. People can even act as mirrors; they can show you yourself as others see you.

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Remember? Why?

 
 
 

We’d like for you to write about your first memory. Reach way back into your mind, try to find that first, earliest memory, and share it with us through your words.  Don’t just tell us what you remember, show us, make us feel what you felt, take us with you back to that first clear (or hazy) memory of your past.

 

 

 

 

Ouch! 

When this prompt came up last week, I cringed; memories, for me, especially early ones, aren’t terribly pleasant.  Why is it that good memories are sometimes forgotten but bad ones tend to linger way too long?

It’s okay, not playing the martyr here, not at all.  I honestly cannot offer a fitting response this prompt-time around but.. I still wanted to participate, in some way.   

Various posts on my blog have delved into my rough childhood and that’s because, at the point when I wrote them, I felt the need to put it out there, especially after having private discussions with several people.   Child abuse survivors often reach out to let others know they are not alone.  For now, I’ll just leave those memories slink off into some corner where they will hide, and wait, always reminding me that they aren’t far away.

How about someone else’s memories, or lack thereof?  Can I bend the rules…please?

For most of her life, my late mother had an uncanny ability to deliberately erase any memory which made her..uncomfortable.  Dementia crept in and relieved her of that job along with the ability to think – the very brain functions that shaped the person she once was.  Dealing with this as her daughter and caregiver was understandably frustrating.  All I can compare it to is when people speak very loudly to someone who doesn’t speak English, hoping they can make themselves understood.

Being in the company of someone with memory loss, 24/7,  finds you  always asking questions, the same ones, only to be met with a blank stare.  There is so much you need to know, things you neglected to ask at a time when there might have been a more cognizant response.  Sadly, those answers are never what you need to hear but you keep asking.  There is always a chance that some spark of remembering will come out of nowhere.

I waited for that opportunity to grab just one fleeting recollection.  That happened shortly before my mother died but, sadly, I waited too long.  Seconds too long.  I missed that last chance to recover a tiny bit of what Dementia had stolen; a joy, sorrow or some motherly recognition.  Her memory quickly flew away and out of sight even though I prodded for its return by asking mother to try hard to remember.

Her answer to me was…“Remember?…Why?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let the Sundowning begin. Come howl at the Moon…..

The next scheduled moon phase is due on November 6, 2010 when a new moon makes its debut; a full moon waits in the wings to wreak its havoc on November 21st.

While my mother lived with us, life was dictated by the lunar calendar.  Episodes of Sundowning were always at their peak during a moon cycle and the consequences of her tirades generated many sleepless nights for everyone within hearing distance of her outbursts.  The subject of so-called full moon insanity is one of much debate with scientists rushing to spew out data on what they feel is folklore, media effects, tradition, misconceptions or cognitive biases surrounding human or animal behavior during any moon phase.

Ivan Kelly, James Rotton and Roger Culver (1996) examined over 100 studies on lunar effects and concluded that the studies have failed to show a reliable and significant correlation (i.e., one not likely due to chance) between the full moon, or any other phase of the moon, and each of the following:
-the homicide rate
-traffic accidents
-crisis calls to police or fire stations
-domestic violence
-births of babies
-suicide
-major disasters
-casino payout rates
-assassinations
-kidnappings
-aggression by professional hockey players
-violence in prisons

-psychiatric admissions [one study found admissions were lowest during a full moon]
-agitated behavior by nursing home residents
-assaults
-gunshot wounds
-stabbings
-emergency room admissions [
but see]
-behavioral outbursts of psychologically challenged rural adults
-lycanthropy

vampirism
-alcoholism
-sleep walking
epilepsy

I completely disagree with Kelly, Rotton and Culver on several of their assessments.  For example, these scientists did not live in my home for three years listening to my mother perform her dementia-operetta whenever the moonlight danced through the window of her room.  Millions of people continue to believe as I do, disregarding studies that pigeonhole these psychotic behaviors as nothing more than lunar myths.

Nursing homes have been a main source of reports concerning patients who, during a moon phase, are highly agitated, bang on walls, scream, yell and, even wearing a WanderGuard, manage an escape now and then from the facilities that house them.

Where my mother was concerned, I was often amazed at her agility during her episodes of Sundowning.  Alzheimer’s disease had re-located her mind to some fifty years, or more, in the past; back to a time when she was a young woman, full of piss and vinegar and able to get around most obstacles that blocked her path.  Now in her eighties, frail and unsteady when she walked, when a full moon was at its peak, so was mother.  She would yell for hours, manage to untie her bed restraint, undress herself and make a break for it.  Stopping any escape would be met with her clenched fists and notable profanity as she was led back to her room.  Usually within an hour of settling her down the rampage would start all over again.  Mom would always manage to drift off to sleep just when it was time to get her up and going for the day, never exhibiting an ounce of exhaustion from the long night before.

Certainly, the light shed by a full moon can mimic daylight for a mentally compromised individual, even for domesticated and wild animals.  Time to howl at the moon, waken everyone in the surrounding area and get up and walk around. 

My mother did just that whenever the giant, glowing, cheesehead grinned down from the heavens.

                                                

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