What’s With Our Cold-Calling Pope? I Don’t Care.

I’m sort of loggy and hung over from long days at work this week.

Maybe that’s why.

Maybe that’s not why.

Maybe it’s because of something else.

All I know is that I don’t care if Pope Francis called a woman in Argentina and told her she could take communion. If he did, ok. If he didn’t, that’s ok, too.

Whatever he said or didn’t say, it was a personal conversation between priest and person, not The Pope, speaking from the Chair of Peter and defining the faith for the entire Church.

I am all worn out from the legislative wars of this week. I am also at a loss about how to keep my mother on an even keel while I’m at work and away from her for so many hours. She is, in this in particular, like a small child. She gets separation anxiety when I’m out of sight for too long and nothing can fix it but time with me.

I’ve tried having my secretary call her every hour and remind her that I’m working and I’ll see her later. That helps, but it doesn’t fix it. I’ve asked the people at her day care to remind her that I’m at work, also. Again, it helps, but it’s not a fix.

Yesterday, I was in the middle of debate on a bill, mike in hand, giving it my best, when my phone lit up. It was Mama. When I talked to her later, she said, “I want to ask you to forgive me.”

“Forgive you for what?” I said.

“Forgive me for whatever I’ve done that has made you go away from me and not see me.”

I get one of those apologies (usually with tears) at least once every day.

She forgets, no matter how many times people tell her, that I’m at work. She also forgets that it’s only been a few hours since I saw her. She doesn’t believe that I’ll see her again in a little while.

I never knew before going through this with her that living in the now was such a tortuous thing. Do not make light of your short-term memory. It is a major governor on your life that keeps things steady and gives you perspective and reality about everything and everyone you encounter.

When I got up this morning — after getting home from work at about 11pm and sleeping for only a few hours — my mind was basically cottage cheese. The possibility that I would write a two-word sentence that was comprehensible was slim to none.

I did my due. Took Mama out for lunch. Took Mama to the doctor. Took Mama for a drive and her daily ice cream.

Now, she’s sleeping it off like a baby. She’ll wake up soon and she won’t remember any of it. The new story will be that she hasn’t eaten or seen me all day long.

She will call people and tell them that I’ve left her alone in the house for days and that I won’t give her food and that she’s slowly starving to death.

Then, she’ll eat supper and chill out, watching ESPN until bedtime.

Now … what was I saying about Pope Francis and the Argentine lady and communion?

Oh yeah.

I remember.

I don’t care.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    A question- because I’ve been thinking I’ll be in that stage one day. Would a smartwatch help? A big electric kitchen timer on the telephone with “Rebecca is at work and will be home in X hours and X minutes”? that she can check several hundred times a day if need be?

    • hamiltonr

      Not a smartwatch. She’d never figure it out. But maybe some sort of timer would be a good idea. I used to use a kitchen timer for my kids time-outs. Maybe something more visual would help.

      Thanks for the idea Ted.

      • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

        Might also consider something that continually talks to her. I’ve often thought I should code a database specifically for that- I used to have one back in the late 1990s, an application that did something like that when I went through a bad patch of not remembering to take my medication.

  • Faithr

    Take pictures of yourself at work and send them to an aide or someone at the care center on their phone so they can show her. Put up a sign on her wall with your picture and in really big print, that says “I love you Mama! I’ll be in to see you as soon as I’m done at work!” I am sorry you are going through this. It is very hard. I’ll pray for you and your mom.

    • hamiltonr

      I’ll try it. Hopefully, it will work. Thank you.

      • Mrshopey

        Bless you for caring for your Mom! I was thinking something similar, like a laminated picture with writing on it, “love you mom and remember, I’ll be right back!”

    • Antonia

      Hooray! I sure hope these great ideas (in the others’ messages above & below) help. Rebecca, I’m astounded at the enormous pressure you must be under, along with other caregivers for the elderly. May God simply pour down an ocean of blessings on you all! I do pray daily for you and all caregivers and am truly amazed at the merits you all must be gaining (not to mention the penances you’re probably doing for the likes of me). I’m thinking that all the technology we have today might give you extra assistance, in addition to the great photo/message and timer ideas… Like one of those teddy bears with your recorded voice message (and a note on the wall with reminder on how to make it talk), or even a video of you on DVD in the machine, with a note on the wall to press the red button to see Rebecca, or something like that. ?? Also, I hope you can join a support group for caregivers … they’ll have great suggestions I’m sure and will help you carry this enormously heavy cross. GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR MOM! And thanks for the truly insightful articles.

      • hamiltonr

        Thank you Antonia.

  • EMS

    I know what you’re going through. My mother’s short term memory was nearly nonexistent for the last year she was alive. I’d go upstairs and she’d freak out because she didn’t know where I was. Luckily, if someone else was with her, she was able to cope as long as that person kept telling her I was shopping or whatever. On the upside, everything was brand new to her, so we’d watch movies like “Bolt” over and over again. :-) I’d like to say it will get better, but chances are her memory will get worse. Re the pope, I agree,

  • FW Ken

    Rebecca, think on this:

    She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
    28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
    29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
    30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

    Proverbs 31 (but you know that)

    Today is hard, but as a friend used to say: it’s Friday now, but Sunday’s coming.

    • hamiltonr

      That made me a bit weepy. Thanks Ken.

    • Heather

      That chapter of Proverbs was read at my grandma’s funeral last month, and I now can’t read it without getting misty. She spent the last several years of her life with dementia, and for her too every time you saw her it had been weeks and weeks. No matter how much you know that it’s the disease talking, it’s still devastating.

      The Lord bless you and keep you and your Mama.

  • janen7

    Rebecca, you don’t directly represent me because I live in Tulsa, but God bless you for all you do to represent what I believe. I am going to add “Mama” to my prayer list and ask God to bring her and you peace.

  • theo

    I’m dealing with the same issues with my mom. There’s a wonderful book, “Creating Moments of Joy for the Person with Alzheimer’s or Dementia: A Journal for Caregivers,” a top-recommended book on Amazon, that has helped me tremendously to cope, and shown me how to give my mom moments of joy even on some of her worst days. It becomes not about memory, which you can’t help, but about the present moment, which you can.

    • hamiltonr

      Thanks Theo. I’ll check it out.

  • Stringtickler

    Both sets of my parents are going thru the same torture of dementia and Altzheimers…at varying degrees. My Father in law is to the point of living as a zombie…we were recently told to “keep him as comfortable as possible”. What a blow. Never did I ever fathom that my wife and I would be providing the care of a 2 year old to our parents. It is so humbling. There are positives from it all: it strengthens ones’ relationship with God, creates more opportunities to pray for our parents, the souls of Purgatory, and all who need our prayers. God Bless You Rebecca…you and your Mom are in my prayers.

    • hamiltonr

      Thank you.

  • Sygurd Jonfski

    I’m sorry but how all this relates to, well, anything? What’s the morale of this story?

  • http://bigpulpit.com/ Tito Edwards

    About your comment on Pope Francis and those of us that actually follow our faith. We do care.

    I feel for your family, but I do not care for your comments about faithful Catholics chewing the words of Pope Francis.

    Tito Edwards

  • ubiPetrusEst

    I agree with Tito Edwards. You’ve combined two columns that should be separate ones. The Pope is the Pope, even when he makes a “private” phone call. IF he gave the woman the advice her lover says–that she was free to go to Communion while living with someone she is not married to in the Church–this is a big deal. It would lead us to question Francis’s competence. (Perhaps the lady interpreted Francis’s remarks to mean what she wished to hear.) Even when the Pope does not speak ex cathedra, it has a meaning and an impact. How ironic that Francis–who criticizes gossip and those who indulge in it–has generated so much confusion and gossip himself.
    As for your dear mother, she seems to need more help than you, your secretary, and day care can provide. Please seek additional counsel and active support for all of you in this sad situation.

    • Jacob Suggs

      You and Tito are entirely missing the point. It is not necessary for every Catholic to form an opinion about everything the Pope says and does, as if we somehow sit in judgement of him. He is the Pope. We can trust the Pope to be Catholic.

      We can trust that he has reasons for what he does, and that he has advisors he will talk to and his own people he turns to for guidance when he needs it, and that, even if he does something he shouldn’t, us random people on the internet are not required to jump on him. We don’t even have to determine whether or not everything he did was wise. We have other things to do, like taking care of our mothers.

      This is NOT INDIFFERENTISM. This is TRUST, and focusing on what we have in front of us instead of gossiping like petty high schoolers about every little thing someone else has said that someone said the Pope said.

      • http://bigpulpit.com/ Tito Edwards

        Jacob,

        Doth protest to much.

        You hit the nail on the coffin by the way. It is indifferentism.

        “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot.
        Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and
        neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
        Revelation 3:15-16

        “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has
        lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good
        for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
        Matthew 5:13

        Tito

      • ubiPetrusEst

        Our posts did not “jump on” the pope; we Catholics can observe that Francis’s alleged statement (given second- or third-hand) is not consistent with Catholic doctrine. To note this discrepancy is responsible and NOT to behave “like petty high schoolers” who are “gossiping.” Rebecca Hamilton’s post is confusing in joining the two issues. To raise the issue, comment on it to dismiss it, and then to use her mother’s health issues as an excuse muddies the waters.

  • Sarx Discuss

    Look up the definition of “sloth.” Not “lazy,” is it’s commonly used, but “spiritual apathy.” Glad you’re taking care of your mother.

  • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

    When you get to Heaven, she will be there first, holding the Gates open for you.


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