Today I'm going to Mom and Dad's to do some weeding in their flowerbeds. The dandelions were waist high last time I visited, and while I have some time off work, I'm going to pitch in. Manual labor is the easiest way to help Mom these days. It's so hard to take her on outings or spend time chatting because I lose patience after a few hours. I find myself avoiding eye contact because I don't want her to see how hard I'm trying to hold back tears or biting my tongue.
Mom has her support group meeting today, so I'll be able to garden uninterrupted. Last time I worked in the yard, she came outside to help, but needed constant supervision.
I tried to make it as simple as possible, by piling all the weeds I'd pulled on the lawn. Instructions like "put these weeds in the wheelbarrow" baffled her. She lifted the handles of the wheelbarrow.
"No Mom, put the weeds in the wheelbarrow."
She lifted the handles again. It must be the order of the words, I thought.
"Pick up these weeds right here, the weeds."
She lifted a handful of weeds out of the wheelbarrow and started putting them on the lawn.
Sigh. It's painful to see her try so hard and fail. I try not to think in terms of pass or fail.
Once we finally got a wheelbarrow full of weeds, I asked her to take the load to the backyard. She was gone for a long time. I ran into the house to use the bathroom. When I came back, she was in the front yard again, but no wheelbarrow.
"Where'd the wheelbarrow go?" I asked, without impatience.
She pointed to the backyard and muttered something about needing help (her speech has gotten harder to follow; sentence structure is a tough one for her these days).
We walked to the backyard together. Still no sign of the wheelbarrow. I asked her to show me where she went. She was at a total loss. We walked up the neighbor's driveway. There was the pile of weeds, near a lilac bush. It was out of sight until we were standing right above it.
Mom laughed at herself and tried to diffuse the awkwardness by saying, "Oh, your poor mother."
"It's OK," I soothed. "I'm sorry you had to go hunting for the brush pile!"
My mind raced. How the heck did she confuse our backyard with the neighbor's driveway?
I feel guilty about "avoiding" her today, by going when I know she won't be home. A family friend is picking her up at 10:30 this morning and I'll have about four hours to make some headway in the garden. It feels like the best I can offer right now. We both love gardens and flowers and I think it will mean a lot to her to be able to see her flower beds again. Maybe I'm just justifying my choice. Especially after all this recent blogging about her and reading books on AD (which I will review here), I don't have it in me to be emotionally available to her.
Hacking at weeds and getting dirty and uprooting overgrown shrubs seems more appropriate, at least today. The negative emotions need an outlet.