Here I am reflecting on my recent trip to visit my Mother who now lives in a Dementia care facility in Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand. I feel that we still have quality time together and I know she enjoys me being there. But she doesn’t really know who I am anymore. And she can’t talk to me, chat with me like we used to. I know she has a lot of questions but she can’t form them into sentences and when she tries really hard to remember a word, then she forgets what it is that she wanted to ask…
So I chat away about what’s happening in my life as a soliloquy. A solo show. She is a great audience… but then I can see she gets overwhelmed and needs her quiet time…
Easter is a strong time for me, and my Mother too. It was on Easter Sunday that my Dad died, 20 years ago.
Very sexually active, to nothing. Her sexual life stopped. And I have witnessed her life force dissipating. The correlation between an active sexual life and long term health I wrote about in the dissertation I did for my Doctorate on the “Anti-aging and Health Benefits of Sex.”
She spends more and more time by herself in her room, in her own space. Which I imagine isn’t as bad as people think. She probably has a lot of cellular memories she can tap into and it is a nice quiet space in comparison to continually being surrounded by others that she can’t really communicate with anyway…
We learned transcendental meditation together when I was 17 years old (to help my headaches), and that was almost 25 years ago. I still meditate and I think she does too. Once you learn it, it is with you forever.
And all of our life’s experiences are stored in our cellular memory. So it can be really fascinating and enjoyable just being in your own space and tapping into those energetically erotically charged cellular memories… I remember I used to love to do that… and still do!
When my Dad died, my Mother decided that we should meet up somewhere each year for a mother/daughter get together as I lived on the other side of the planet to her and had a super busy life. Dad would have wanted us to spend time together. She paid for it and told me to decide where I wanted to go and we would meet there and spend a week or 10 days once a year… until about 5 years ago… when we went to Bali… I started to notice that she didn’t really have any idea of where our room was at the resort and was just blindly following me around…
The following year we decided to do a road trip up to Central Otago from Dunedin, in New Zealand, to visit my Aunt and Uncle and she couldn’t even find her way to the bathroom…
She was stubborn though and determined to live in her beautiful home by the beach my father had built for her, as long as was possible. She had caregivers popping in usually once a day to check on her. But sometimes she couldn’t be bothered answering the door and dealing with their petty day-to-day conversations…
But then a neighbor found Mum out wandering just before the break of day, in her nighty, holding a table tennis bat, waiting for someone to pick her up at the bottom of the driveway, in the middle of winter, in the south of the South Island of New Zealand, in other words, close to Antartica and COLD!
Needless to say, she was taken in to hospital for a “chest infection,” but really to assess whether she was capable of living by herself any longer. They assessed that she could not safely go back to her home by herself. And she never went back…. Just like that.
I googled all the different dementia care facilities in my mother’s town and called and emailed each one until I heard back from them. All of them were listed as full. All of them confirmed that all their beds were full. But “luckily,” one place had a death the day that the manager emailed me said they had one bed that had just become available. So my niece, who was the only person in the family in Dunedin at the time, managed to get her grandmother moved from the hospital and into this facility, which wasn’t too far from where my Mother was born and had spent most of her life.
By the time I was able to get out to New Zealand I discovered my Mother, who was a former model, who lived in a gorgeous home overlooking the beach in an upscale neighborhood in Dunedin, lying in a dark, single bed in clothes she obviously had been admitted to the hospital in and very few other possessions
I felt so bad! My Mum couldn’t understand why she couldn’t go back to her home. I told her it was a temporary situation until the doctors could assess whether she was ok to live by herself but knew the prognosis wasn’t good.
I asked the home if it was possible to move my mother to a larger, lighter, more spacious room and luckily another gent had just been moved to the hospital and one room was available. They painted it, I ordered curtains and moved some limited furniture from her house, and some of her favorite photos and clothes in and made it more livable.
When I walked into my mother’s home I was shocked. There were post-its everywhere. On the phone, saying “this is the phone,” “press 0 for a dial tone,” and notes on the fridge, “this is the fridge” and on everything in the fridge, “this is yogurt for breakfast,” and the electric jug, the TV remote, on the cupboards… it was very evident that she had been struggling to hold it all together for a LONG time!
We decided we had to sell her place…. I was only home for a week and had that time to go through my mother’s house and put aside anything of value or memory before it was put on the market…
Every cupboard was full. Her wardrobe crammed. I filled up so many garbage bags I lost count… On the last evening I went into the hot water cupboard and up on the top shelf were my old diaries from my teenage years that had been put there to dry out as there had been a water leak down into my old bedroom where my diaries were. I knew my Mum had read each and every one of them and of course I wanted to have a read of them too. Should I keep them? Or burn them?
I had come across an old bottle of whiskey from my Dad’s days so grabbed a crystal glass, poured myself a whiskey and started reading….
Wow… needless to say I saw the sun rise the next morning…
On this most recent visit, I sat down with the nurses and they pulled out her file. She was admitted in August 2014, three and a half years ago.
This time I witnessed her choking on her food and being put on the pureed food list. She played with her food a lot. I don’t think she really knew who I was… brief glimpses of lucidity… a brightness in her smile, some old phrases occasionally would pop out…
I rented an Airbnb this time as I no longer have any family living in Dunedin. When I checked out of the Airbnb, I met the owner who, after chatting a bit, said she remembers my Mum wandering around quite aimlessly sometimes in the neighborhood and having to drop her home sometimes.
Back in Vegas I caught up with a buddy who had just came back from Bali, which reminded me of the last time I was there with my Mum on our mother/daughter trip and a story about hooking up with 2 young guys who worked there and explaining to my Mother what happens in a 3some and her incredulous looks of disbelief and comments…. I have used that story comedically at several conferences I have presented to about open lifestyles.
I definitely have had a very close, open communication relationship with my Mum. She knows I have always been a horny thing and still am… way back at high school, university, traveling around the world… and always encouraged me to be all that I could be and experience life to the most.
I thank her for raising me to be the sexually open person that I am. She never judged me. She showed her concern a few times like the first night I went out with a boy to the local “farmers do” and passed out in the back of his car after throwing up all over my dress and missing my curfew! To being so concerned about me being involved with a cult in India (the Osho Multiversity) that her and my father flew over to check on me. Only to discover a whole new world of spirituality into which they participated and joined in on.
My parents’ love for travel and adventure was infused into me. Their openness to other cultures and ways of life opened me up to a life-time of travel around the world. I still continue to travel and learn and experience all that there is to experience whilst giving thanks that my body is healthy and able to experience the joys and pleasures it can.
I encourage you all to honor and respect your bodies as the temples through which we experience this life and to allow yourselves to have as many wonderful joyous, sexual, fun experiences while you can… we never know when our existence here on this earth, and this earth itself, will end so make the most of it now! I do!