One of the worst things about visiting a loved one with Alzheimer's is definitely having to say goodbye. I always feel like I am dealing with a little kid.
"Now wave bye-bye to the nice lady and let her leave!"
Ugh. She never wants me to leave. She isn't sure who I am, but she knows that I am someone important. Sometimes there is that glimmer of recognition and she wants to go on a mommy-daughter outing, like in the good old days.
This is me getting ready to say goodbye to her the last time I visited, which was unfortunately back in August 2012.
Before I left, I knew I wanted a new picture of me with my mother. Just in case. That isn't the mother I know and love, of course, but that is who she is now. That doesn't sound right when I say it, but I think you know what I mean.
Anyway, it took a lot of failed attempts to get this one picture. First, I had to ask permission to get a hug and to have my picture taken with me. Then the poor kid who was trying to take the picture seemed to have no idea what he was doing. Finally, she grabbed me before this shot and said, "You're the best sister ever!"
At least that demonstrated a bit of recognition, right?
And then I was trying to leave. My friend was waiting for me out in the waiting area. We still needed to visit my father's grave and then stop at the museum on our way out of town. He had to be back to work in the morning.
So, I said goodbye. She said, "Let me get my purse and then we can go."
Here we go again. During one of my visits the previous year after my father had passed away, I had to sneak out of the back of the dining room to get away from her. I always think of my students' parents as they run out the door, with me holding their crying child. One of the nurses always has to distract Mom so that I can slip out. I hope she doesn't get too upset, but am sure she probably quickly forgets about it.
So, a nurse escorted her back down the hallway to her room. I made a mad dash out the door, found my friend, and collapsed into a puddle of tears.
I hope to get back this summer. Who knows how the bye-bye will go at that point?