My Worst Nightmare

It’s October. The month of Halloween. A time when scary shows hit the movie and TV screens. When the retail stores have shelf after shelf of creepy masks and costumes. But for me, the scariest place that exists is inside the human mind.

I’m dealing with a situation that I never asked for. Hoped I’d never have to deal with. It is my worst nightmare.

I grew up in a big family. There were eight children in my family, and as we married, and had children the numbers grew. It wouldn’t be unusual for a close family gathering to have forty or fifty people. That’s normal for me.

My husband’s family isn’t so lucky. On his mother’s side of the family he has one aunt. That’s scary enough but she’s ninety-one years old and in a nursing home. And she’s been diagnosed with dementia. That’s the really scary part.

Because her only family is my husband, we have taken on responsibility for her. I pick her up once a week and take her out to lunch, and shopping, and whatever else she wants to do. I cherish those moment with her but…..

When her brain blips, and the dementia takes over, I don’t know how to deal with the crazy lady that comes out. My heart breaks because she’s frightened. I get angry because she accuses me of the most trivial things. I worry that she will make irrational decisions that are bad for her, and I won’t be able to help her. I don’t know how to respond to the dementia.

Her mind is a scary place but the real fear lies inside me. How much time do I have left? Will I stay sane and rational? Or will age take me to the dark place within the mind where dreams become reality and I will walk through a world gone mad?

I think that’s the real fear. Not what she says to me, but will I walk in her shoes? And if so, when? I told her once that I believed God put me in this situation for me to learn from her. She is teaching me about end of life issues that I would never, on my own, willingly face.

She thought I’d complimented her and I wouldn’t for the world alter that thought. But the real lesson for me is to look at her life and make sure I don’t walk in her shoes.

I’m a rational thinker. I count on my mind doing what I need it to do. When I see what can happen, as the body ages, it terrifies me on a deep and primal level. All I can think of is to fight back. Exercise, diet, doctor visits. Don’t put them off. Work at staying fit, and healthy, and most of all, happy.

We can’t avoid aging. It’s inevitable. But we can fight back. I don’t know what else to do because the number one rule I live by is: Never Give Up.

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