I talked to Lola honestly tonight (Sunday, October 9, 2011) about what's happening with her husband, my father. Knowing that my mom also has dementia, I had no idea what to expect. Feeling that it was her life and her spouse, I felt obligated to, at the least, talk to her. I had slight expectations from their lifelong history. Her responses floored me.
Up front, I told her that if she did not want to visit her husband she would never ever see him again. Ever. She had no reaction.
I asked her if she would like to be with him in a nursing home with them together in the same room. She vehemently said no. My mother would prefer to never see her husband again than to live with him in a nursing home. After 66 years of living together.
Even knowing that my mother's mind has deteriorated, I must admit that I never ever expected her repugnance of a nursing home to override her desire to be with Joe.
My grandmother used to say that she couldn't throw the dishwater out without hitting Joe with it. My father hung around my mother and her family from before they were teenagers. My father and my mother were emotionally tied from before they were teenagers. That's 71 years at a minimum. 71.
To hear my mother without tears or emotion say she would prefer to never ever see him again than to live with him in a nursing home was astounding to me.
What kind of primal fears drive human beings that dementia cannot override?