Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Kitchen table travels.

Okaasan took me on a tour last night - from the kitchen table - to Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
We looked at the Wailing Wall, we dipped our toes in the River Jordan, we were disappointed at the lack of souvenirs, we learned about Christian history...

She was on great form in fact. Pretty lucid and clear in her conversation. Repetitive, but not hamster-like. Just a nice cosy chat with an old lady telling me about her travels.

When Yujiro's Dad  died (a few years before I met him), Okaasan took on a whole new life - joined the hula class and started going abroad with a religion-study group. I've seen pictures of her riding camels and hiking Ayre's Rock. It must have been a wonderful time for her - free from being a wife and no need to be a mother or grandmother.
Dinner last night I served up fish and Japanese-style veggies and soup and pickles - and she talked. Students had given me persimmons and I mentioned that in England persimmons (if we can get them at all) maybe come from Israel. 
"Israel" was the key word - and Okaasan was off on her travels....with me as her audience.

So, yesterday all good.
Lunch on the table and I doled out Y1,000 of spending money to her before I left for work. She accepts this - us giving her a little bit of money - it always surprises me really. How she accepts the passive role of someone who doesn't have money, but gets it from us.

I was home at 4 pm - as the skies of Sapporo darkened for the first snowfall of the season. Local radio and Tv had been predicting this event since yesterday, on and on, everyone was in "scurry mode" to get stuff done and get home before the snow arrived.
I got home and found Okaasan....preparing to go out.
She made it out ok, into the dark and cold with the first flakes falling.
She was back in under and hour luckily.

Yujiro called from yet another drinking party with old friends in the Tokyo area. He has a new Smart Phone with a SKYPE Ap. and like a child with a new toy he is endlessly calling me and asking me to shout "Hello" and wave at various drunk friends in bars. I'm not sure if it's the So Young Looking Foreign Girlfriend, or the Smart Phone with SKYPE he is showing off, after all these years as a couple I suspect the gadget has the greater appeal.
He is back on Thursday, so my Mission Oyomesan is heading into its final stages - and has been pretty successful I reckon. :-)

Thankyou for some nice comments this week : saying what a kind, sweet, generous woman I am.
Well, I am I suppose. I try. I think I fought this Okaasan situation for such a long time - giving me and her stress. Now I am accepting that this life is what it is...for a few years. I am SO LUCKY that Yujiro is the rare kind of Japanese guy who takes an active part in the caring, he shops, cooks, cleans (a bit). I am also very lucky that I have my own life and work to escape to.
And I'm lucky to have this blog to vent into!!!

Watching those dementia videos recently reminded me that Okaasan is probably at Early/Mid stage dementia now. 
On a good day - like last night, she is just a rambling old lady, who needs someone to cook/clean for her and control her money. She doesn't initiate conversations and she can't decide  and act on thoughts like "Have a bath" or "have a haircut". She has single-incontinence, sometimes double. She hand-washes a few clothes. Usually not sure what day or month it is, not sure whether or what she last ate.
She can: dress herself, go to the toilet herself, feed herself and go out for a walk and come home. She can follow a conversation and respond.

On bad days: she gets into a depression and confusion, can't operate machines, can't use kitchen things, hunts for "lost" things, accuses people of stealing stuff, has double incontinence and hides the soiled underwear.

Being nice and kind to Okaasan is a self-preservation act for me: Happy Okaasan = Easy to Manage Okaasan = Relaxed Oyomesan.



  1. You live in Sapporo!!!! You are so lucky!! I have never been there, want to go there, and if I could do Japan all over again, would be there, no doubt about it.

  2. It is sad for Okaasan, especially in the early stages, when they sometimes have glimmers of lucidity.
    I remember having one of those lucid glimmers get me into big trouble with my Not-The-Grandma(but I considered her my grandma), who had Alz. and with Alz. she hated me, thought I was stealing things (I went back for 3 months to the UK when I had a tumor and needed an operation)would greet me at the breakfast table of a morning with a, 'Oh, you're still here' followed by a sigh, he he he, anyway, one evening I stuck my tongue out at her when my grampy wasn't looking because she'd said insinuated I was John Wayne Gacy or something, and just my bloody luck, she had a lucid moment when I did that, and said, 'Oooh, fiddlesticks to you, my girl!'. I felt so bad because I had always been so polite and nice etc. Whenever I light sticks of incense for my mum, gramps and NTG, her one always burns me or goes out. LOL.

  3. Love THAT story 222!

    Okaasan is mainly with it I think - although she does passively accept the money handing out and the feeding and the time-for-a-bath enocurgements.
    Once though I was apologising for dinner coming a bit late, was that ok etc....and she suddenly burst out: "I am NOT a child!" I can eat anytime!! And I did the mental check of "mustn't talk down to her" thing.