Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Donna Mae

I haven't written much about my mom lately, and I guess that's a good thing.  For the most part, she is stable.  In fact, the hospice people are questioning whether they can keep her in the hospice program, because physically, well, she's not really deteriorating much.  She hasn't lost weight, is eating small amounts again, and is accepting her medications again.  I hope that she can stay in the hospice program (although that's kind of bittersweet) because I think that all the attention and pampering from them is helping her.  But I should be happy that things are stable and not WANT her to be in hospice....sometimes this stuff is really confusing.

I still stop by every night after work to see her.  I know that she has a hard time recognizing people, so I usually say "Hi Mom, it's Carol."  and she usually says "Oh, hi Carol."  But I never really knew, for the longest time, if she knew who "Carol" is, in relation to her.

One night we were chatting, though, and she told me she was a hundred and fifty years old.  I decided to take the plunge and I asked her "Do you have any children?" and she said yes.  I then asked her "Do you have boys or girls?" and she said "I have one son."  And I said "No daughters?" And she said "No, I always kind of wanted a daughter, but I never got one." (That was sad for me.)

So then I got really curious as to who she thought I was.  "You're Donna Mae, right?"  me: "no, I think that must be someone else, my name is Carol."  mom: "NO IT ISN'T.  YOU'RE DONNA MAE."  me: "You know, I think you might be right!"

Now I have no idea who Donna Mae is or was.  My mom has never mentioned anyone by that name.  But it appears that I am Donna Mae now.  If I ask my mom if she remembers who I am, she always perks up and says "Donna Mae!"  (and of course I tell her she's right).  It does get more confusing with the staff of the nursing home, because they know me as "Carol, Esther's daughter."  So they ask my mom if "Carol" is coming tonite, and she responds as if I have never existed.  They ask her if her daughter is coming, she says "I don't have a daughter."  (yikes)

One night, I stopped by and a worker was reading some stories to the residents.  There wasn't enough room for me to sit next to my mom without disrupting everyone, so I sat on the other side of the room and listened.  When the worker finished reading, she pointed to me and said "Esther, you've got a visitor, do you know who that is?" and of course, my mom said, really loud "Yes, that's Donna Mae."  And the worker started to correct her, but I shushed her and explained in private what was happening.

Occasionally she asks me (Donna Mae) how my mother is doing.  I believe that she sees Donna Mae as a dear friend.  I always tell her "oh, she's looking forward to Spring." or "Oh, she said to tell you hi."  My mom always likes it when Donna Mae's mother passes a message on to her through me.  But it's sad, just the same.

The best thing(s) about being Donna Mae, however, are that she "knows" me again and likes/loves me.  She tells me "You're such a good friend, I feel like we've known each other forever!"  And when I tell her I love her, she says "I love you" back to me (for a time she would not tell me she loved me, because, as she explained, she could not say that to someone she did not know), so it's kind of a trade off.

I get to be Donna Mae, who she loves.  But Carol appears to be gone forever.


Alabaster Frank said...

This was a very moving post, it spoke to me in a different way... but the messages are real and insightful. I wish you peace and comfort in these hard times. Thank you for sharing a piece of yourself with us.