A few months ago, my mother packed all of her things. When I say all of her things, I mean everything. She even took out the drawer dividers out of her dresser. She didn’t pack like she was going on vacation, she packed haphazardly. She would go into her room, out to her car a just throw things in. Some where in duffle bags, some in small white grocery bags, and others just thrown in.
I knew things have not been right with Mom for a while, but this was the first time she had done something like this. For the first half an hour, I did not ask her what she was doing. She gets defensive and upset when I question her and I was trying not to micromanage my own mother. When she walked out of her room with the contents of her junk drawer, I became concerned. “Hey Mom, whatcha doing?” I asked. “I’m packing my things up to go home. I don’t want to leave all my things in your room incase you have company after I leave.” she replied. This is when it was fully clear to me things were not right.
A couple of weeks before, my mother had visited my brother and his family out of state. She would take the 4 hour bus ride and he would meet her at the other end. That particular trip, that she had made at least 20 times before, she got confused when she got into the city. My other brother was to meet her, have lunch and put her on the bus. She bypassed him and tried to find the bus (which was two hours later). Two very kind women encountered my Mom and got her connected with my brother. Then one of the women changed her bus ticket to be able to take the bus down with my mother so she wasn’t alone.(I will be forever grateful to her) Yes, that what a blaring red flag, but we could attribute it to other things. Anxiety, fatigue etc.. This “going back home” thing was something entirely new.
It took some time, but I realized she thought she was at my brothers house. That day, it went so far that she was telling me things that Colleen told her. The information was correct, but I am Colleen. She didn’t even realize that I am her daughter, and in fact was acting as if I am my brother’s wife Amy (which I love to look like her!). There had been many red flags along the way, and we (her family) had an answer for many of them. This incident was a turning point for not just my mother, but her whole family. It was the catalyst that began the doctors visits and testing that would lead to her FTD diagnosis. As shocking as this incident was, I am thankful that it happened so my mother could start the road to care that she needed