Good News, Bad News, Rough Night

I’ll start with the good news.  The rest will sort itself out.

When my mom moved in last September (HAS IT ALREADY BEEN ALMOST A YEAR???!?), one of the tasks I set myself was to find someplace — any place — that would allow her the opportunity for some face-time with horses.  My husband had asked her, “If there’s one thing you could do before you die, what would it be?” and without hesitation, she had responded, “To ride a horse.”

We seemed destined for disappointment.  I worked for several years at a therapeutic riding facility, but though they were willing to keep her on their waiting list (Hello?  She’s 89; how much “waiting” do you think we have?), there was no room in their schedule for her even to do ground-work (grooming and such).  Another facility was open to the idea of ground-work (less certain about the riding idea), but they were so far away the drive was difficult for Mom.  Finally a friend put me on to Camp Care in Columbia, CT.  They were willing to take Mom on as a ground-work client…and we’d just have to “wait and see” about the riding aspect.  Since time was fleeing and this seemed our only opportunity, we took it.

Mom loved grooming.  She loved the time with Lily, the little Morgan mare who enjoyed her attention, and she liked her instructor, Allie Leonard.  Now, the powers that be might have had reservations about Mom’s ability to ride, but I don’t think the universe had taken Allie’s determination into account.  This is a young lady who does not accept the word “No” lightly.  And so, last week, we experienced this:


Yeah, okay, so she looks like Frankenstein’s Jockey, but man was she one happy great-grandma!

So, that’s the good news.  Now the other sort…..

Short story made shorter:  We had an issue in my parents’ house.  An individual insinuated herself with the person living in the house and before we knew it, we had a squatter situation.  Never knew squatters had more rights (in NYS, at least) than the homeowner.  It’s taken months to get her out, but out she now is.  However, on the morning after the deadline day when she had to be out, my sister arrived to find:  the smaller garage door kicked in; the door between the garage and house kicked in; the front door wide open, the lock torn off; a back door wide open; the a/c running full-bore; and the remnants of what was meant to be a log fire IN THE GAS FIREPLACE.  (Guess there’s no question about what they hoped to have happen, is there?)  My sister seems disinclined to press charges (for reasons I cannot quite fathom), and the police seem even less inclined to show interest.  Meanwhile, this person (and I use that term loosely) is living somewhere in town and frankly I’m a little nervous about going over there to start the cleaning and repair work so we can sell the place.  I mean, we’re obviously dealing with a psycho.  I don’t want to get attacked by her or her minions.  (Desperately wish I had a few of my Coasties, or my good pal Jake The Army Guy, to act as security.)  So.  Vandalism.  In the house my parents took such good care of.  It breaks the heart.

Also heart-breaking was the long conversation I had with my mom last night.  She’d been looking a little punky and depressed and I finally got her to talk at bedtime.  She feels useless, cast-aside by family.  She can’t remember that people have visited, so to her no one has.  She wonders why her brother (in his 80s) didn’t take her in, and doesn’t quite grasp my explanation that we didn’t even ask because we took her in.  (Frankly, it never occurred to anyone.)  She hates that she can’t remember from one moment to the next and wonders what she did in life, what sin she committed, to end up like this.  She worries that she failed in life, that she let people down, that she didn’t do enough.  We talked long about how no one gets the life they think they’ll get, and how we all make mistakes, and how we all do some really good things.  I told her about some of the good things she’s done – babysitting her grandchildren, being there for a friend with breast cancer, driving a seriously injured neighborhood kid to the hospital – none of which she remembers, unfortunately.

But that was yesterday and today is today.  She still seems diminished, but that’s an ongoing piece of what’s happening day-to-day.  BUT — today IS a new day and it’s also HORSEBACK RIDING DAY and the sun is shining and, you know, we’ll get through this one step at a time, one conversation at a time.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's, Caretaker, Dementia, Family, Horses, Therapeutic Riding and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Good News, Bad News, Rough Night

  1. It’s incredible that the police don’t take such vandalism seriously. By the way, I love the picture of your Mom on the horse! Fabulous! I hope she has many more such happy days.

  2. MJ Allaire says:

    Love you, my friend ❤

  3. garry Sherman says:

    Get her a guest book, something those who visit can write in…. hopefully with a date and their signatures.

    • That’s a great idea, Gaz, except there aren’t a lot of visitors (except those she hallucinates). Family doesn’t come often. Some of them don’t come at all, which really cheeses me off when it’s people she has ALWAYS been there for, in some cases people she helped raise, and they can’t be bothered to visit or pick up the phone and talk for five or ten minutes. Ah, well. It’s their karma. I wonder how they’ll feel when they’re old and no one visits them?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s