Friday, 28 April 2017

Opening the past...

Okaasan and Him.
Somewhere in Japan....

ISN'T that the cutest thing?

The past is opening up to me (and him) in photographs. It will soon open up to Okaasan too.
He came back from the family home and brought old photo albums, dusty and full of memories and a life that Okaasan is already forgetting.

Once the house is actively selling.
Once the real estate agent needs Okaasan's permission.
Once she has given it and had the "oldest son has moved somewhere smaller" tale.
THEN we will give her a book case and all the albums.

We don't want to give her the albums now - in case it sets off too many questions about the house in Saitama and the older son ...questions we don't want to get into quite yet.

We are sure the photographs will make her happy. There are some wonderful photographs of a happy, wonderful life. They have been a revelation to me: of the woman Okaasan was before she became an old lady with a brain-sapping disease.

The baby? The school girl? The young, strong-faced office lady on company trips with other workers. The young man who became husband....the little boys (Oh WOW! Dear Son was a clown in endless pictures even then!)....and the fashions, the trips.
In later years the foreign trips with friends to so many countries - Okaasan in a swim suit in the Dead Sea, Okaasan on a camel in Australia, in New York, in England....always nicely dressed, with hair just so, happy and active.

I found myself looking at the date on some of the foreign trip photographs - 17 years ago...was  she already starting to show signs of the dementia then? Did friends on those trips notice strange behavior? WE know for sure that about 10 years ago she wasn't looking after herself at home, beginning to get confused about money....did friends on those trips notice early signs?

I am starting to notice lapses in ability of an older starting to wonder. I sense she is starting to wonder too. Did Okaasan's friends notice vocabulary mistakes and directional errors, strange decisions, confusions...20 years ago?

Glorious pictures, which I will share more of later....
It is so wonderful to see Okaasan in her life. To put images to some of the stories. Already she doesn't talk about the New York trip...hardly about the Kenya trip....will she remember more once she sees these  pictures?
It will be great to sit and talk to her about them.

**  All good here: Okaasan went downtown yesterday alone! By subway alone. And came home ok! First time in half a year?? Amazing!! The good weather is here - spring flowers and sunshine. She feels good.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Into summer mode....

We survived.
Okaasan and Me and Knee - all week.

The cooking wasn't very creative. She ate prepared food boxes for 3 days while I worked long hours. But she survived.
I survived too. The knee is stronger day by day. Bike rides! First subway ride! Went to a movie theater!

When I had a hair cut I dropped Okaasan off at the supermarket opposite the salon, with careful instructions to meet me in Macdonald's next door when she was ready. She often goes to the big M after the supermarket, so I hoped it would come naturally. I parked the car at the supermarket.

Just as my hair cut was finishing the stylist pointed out Okaasan hovering that the supermarket doors. Looking at people going in and out, looking at the road, looking back into the shop.
While I paid and got my coat and bag etc - she continued to hover. Obviously wondering what she was meant to be doing next.
Is someone picking me up in a car?
Is there someone with me who is in the supermarket still?
What am I doing here?

Sadly, not chooisng the other option of "Go to Macdonald's".

Anyway. I got to her ok and parked her in the big M with a coffee while I did shopping, then brought us both home in the car.

Dear Son is home from the final house clearing.
Three boxes of stuff - he says mainly photographs and some trash he couldn't dump....are also coming.

And so the house sale. And Okaasan will discover this sometime soon.....when the real estate people have to get her permission to sell her home of 30 years.

I'm hoping I can find a photo of Okaasan when she was young to show you!

Dear Son will start summer work soon.
The garden is starting to flower with early spring stuff.
Okaasan has been out several times ALONE for a walk and managed to come home ok.
That final point is a big relief, I wasn't looking forward to us having to escort her all the time. But she seems, at the moment, to be ok.

Thursday, 20 April 2017


I just diapered my mother-in-law.
And I'm feeling flushed with success.

I caught her just as she was leaving the toilet early morning. I followed her back into her room and showed her the new diapers.

"Maybe it's a good time to change these?"
"Why? Did I wet myself? I didn't, did I?"
"I don't know, but you wear these now in case you do - and you haven't changed for a few days. maybe fresh is nicer?"

I pulled up a chair, sat her on it, gently took off her pajamas...and pants (Oh...NOT diapers, that means there are soiled diapers somewhere in the room...) and helped her put on the fresh diapers.

"Did I wet myself? I don't think so?" she actually fingered the crotch area of her pants and showed it to kids who pick up interesting bits of sick seconds after vomiting....YUK

But success.

She is just more passive now. Really. If you talk her gently into an action, as though this is a normal thing, we always do etc etc...and then she just follows.

Busy week at work - knee getting better - holding it all together with the help of convenience store food. 

But thought I'd share that big success with you! Cos I know you were waiting to hear...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Alone again....

Well - a deux again. Okaasan and Me.

Dear Son has gone to the family home near Tokyo for 5 days to meet the real estate agent and look at tea ceremony cups, kimono and what ever else may be of value. I'm hoping he will bring back photographs of Okaasan a long time ago - I'd love to see them and maybe she would like it too. We have no photographs here.

So. Okaasan and Me - we are alone for the week.
My knee is good enough now that I can walk down th stairs, carefully. I went on my bike at the weekend too. I have a busy work week, but we've arranged food box deliveries to help me out when I can't cook.

Best thing is Okaasan and walking. She has been out 3 times now, alone.
Each time she went out just locally and came home ok. Tired. But ok.
One time I found her on the door step - unable to find her front door key, and her handbag was greasy with a half eaten fried bun and the remains of a convenience store coffee. But she got home ok.

She even remembered that my knee is bad! We have just sold our old car to a breaker company. When the driver arrive to take the car away I could hear Okaasan telling him in the entrance area: "Amanda's leg is bad, so she can't come down teh stairs quickly" - which was surprising really, that all of that information was in her mind and she thought to tell someone.

It's such a small point - but really I notice things like that, because it IS a surprising thing, for someone who is usually all internally focused.

Let's see how this week goes. 
Diapers...oh yes...should think about that, too....