However slight, sudden noises in the night manage to wake me.  It’s been like this since she lived with us and hasn’t changed in the twelve years since she passed.  Every creak from the attic or sound of footsteps takes me back and puts me on alert.

Some nights, she’s still down the hall, talking to someone who isn’t there.  The soft conversations last, on and off, for hours and often escalate into full-blown yelling episodes with someone standing in the shadows of her mind.

When all seems to become quiet, underlying noises emerge, almost like a forewarning of what is to follow.  Soon, one more escape out the door.  Back to what little she could remember from all that Alzheimer’s had taken away.

Once again, I sit up in bed and listen for five or ten minutes, waiting for her door to open.


workshop-button-1From Mama Kat’s….Listen to the sounds in your house for 5 or 10 minutes. Write about what you hear.





Another night of unsettling screams.  Cursewords mixed with prayers spread throughout the darkness.  Any chance of sleep was fleeting, just like the memories escaping from the room down the hall.  It would go on for hours, frenetic energy, fueled by a demon who made her keep searching and held the person she once was…hostage. 

I stood outside the doorway to her room, waiting for that one right moment to enter, hoping she might remember, armed in case she didn’t.  Tonight, my weapon of choice was a plate with oatmeal cookies instead of the graham crackers that she hated.  For a moment, I was a little girl again, clutching a teddy bear for comfort,  wanting, needing a mother who wasn’t there.




Flicker of Inspiration Prompt #53: Pitch Perfect

This week your Flicker of Inspiration prompt is to give us a pitch. A perfect pitch. Think of the description on the back of your favorite novel, the words that make you buy that book for your Kindle, the short paragraphs that let you know you MUST read that book.

I worked cookies into my pitch because of the role they played when I was caregiver for my late mother, thus the name of my book, “Another cookie, please!”.   Just about every combative situation (and there were many) could be dealt with by distracting her with a cookie, preferably chocolate chip.  Once, I made the mistake of handing her graham crackers which she promptly flung back at me.   The crackers made it clear across the kitchen table.  She had a good arm.



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
-major disasters
-casino payout rates
-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
-gunshot wounds
-emergency room admissions [
but see]
-behavioral outbursts of psychologically challenged rural adults

-sleep walking

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.