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....

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

How to diaper

To diaper.

I think it must be a verb.

Next week Dear Son will escape south to a warm country with cherry blossoms, leaving me and my recovering knee to manage life at home...and his mother...and her diapers.
While he is arranging to sell the family home....

Adult diapers. Somehow, amazingly - he has managed to get her to start wearing them. After a series of toilet accidents he gently explained that it would be a big help to him if she would consider wearing them.

So, every other day he goes into her room and encourages her to change diapers. 

Next week it'll be my turn.
He and I practiced what and how I should say it. How I should get Okaasan standing, open the diapers at carpet level and ask her to step inside....then leave her to pull them up. Retain some dignity in this topic. She doesn't change them herself - takes off the old ones sometimes and leaves them around the room - - anywhere but the diaper bin we've placed near the door....

Anyway. My task - one of many, next week.

And day service finished for this winter. 
On Saturday Dear Son let his mother go walking alone! Considering she was getting lost and confused last year, this was a brave...or lazy...move.
But he stayed home and tracked her on the mobile phone GPS. And went out in the car to rescue her when she ran out of walking steam.

I can't walk with her yet. My walking is limited to about 20 steps from car to shop and back again.
But I can let her go out alone and track her progress.


Last night I went in to Okaasan's room to close her curtains...told her food would be ready soon.

"I'm not eating!
"Oh? Are you ok? Why?"
"I don't eat in the morning..."

"It isn't morning. It's 7 pm....dinner time...."
"Oh? Is it???"

I guess my routine is to often go into her room in the morning and OPEN the curtains - so the scenario fit. But it was quirky all the same.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The the room

So April.

Operation House Sell this month.

Dearest Son and Boyfriend will go to the family home near Tokyo and meet the real estate agent. Discuss the sale of the house. Look at the maybe-valuable stuff left over from the house cleaning and decide what to do with it.
The real state company will send staff here - over an hour flight to a different part of Japan ! - to meet Okaasan and get her permission to sell the house. Sign documents etc.

Dear Son plans to tell her Older Brother has "moved somewhere smaller, and he doesn't need the house of course and we all agreed it would be best to sell, didn't we?"

Well. Yes. "somewhere smaller". Like a box in the temple!!

Hopefully all of that will go off ok. I think it will. Okaasan is generally less confrontational about things now. She may want stuff from the house - a tea cup and a kimono or two may placate her. Does she even remember things that were in the house now?

And so we sail on - with the death of the older brother as the big No No topic. His picture in its black frame is in our living room upstairs, where Okaasan doesn't go. His Buddhist memorial plaque too.

Yesterday I came home and Okaasan was in the kitchen leafing thru just arrived post on the table. 

"This for Amanda-sa, this for Dearest darling Perfect Son...oh this is for my Oldest Son!..."....the TV cable company had failed on the "please change name on all post" request....and sent the schedule magazine for April using Oldest Son's name.

I made vague sounds about taking the post upstairs, going to the toilet...making dinner...and swept it away from Okaasan's gaze.

She didn't mention any more.
The Dead Family Member Whose Name We Must Not Mention...

* Knee Update - walking slowly inside. Crutches outside. Walked up the stairs last night. Progress!