Thursday, March 19, 2015

Spring Petals

I often share stories about my mom's journey through dementia. As best we can tell, she suffers from Lewy Body Dementia, and her main symptoms are aggressive visual hallucinations, unmanageable anxiety, and a deep sense of paranoia and anger. She feels bitterly betrayed by life, and honestly, I don't blame her.

I mention less often that my mother-in-law also struggles with dementia. I think she has Alzheimer's but to tell you the honest truth, I am so caught up in my mother's daily battles that I know precious little about my mother-in-law's challenges.

But according to a recent report from my husband, she believes she is happily living in 1944, watching her favorite old movies and looking at cute photos of kitties. Her grasp of reality is quietly, gently. slipping away and while surely she has her moments of confusion and frustration, my mother-in-law is mostly living in a sweet dream.

It's a well-known fact that dementia takes many forms, but the contrast between my two mothers' illnesses is startling. For my mom, dementia is a winter blizzard that rolls in, black storm clouds at night, a swirling mass of icy cold that drives its misery into every crack and crevice until there is no place of safety or protection from the storm.

My mother-in-law's dementia is more like a slender branch of pink cherry blossoms, tender and pale in the weak spring sun, innocently doing its best to survive in this dangerous, difficult world.

And while it's impossible for me to compare their experiences, or decide which fate is better or worse, I am glad that my gentle mother-in-law is living among the spring petals.

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