I don’t know when it started exactly. When I first moved in with Miss Cathy she would talk about how she’d occasionally watch a music video on CMT (Country music television) and I thought little of it.
Then I noticed that her days started to have a different soundtrack; instead of the usual sounds floating through the apartment of courtroom show gavels, one of the Cartwright’s’ needing “Pa” to help them out of a jam “down on the Ponderosa” or the applause of the game shows I would hear the soft twang of a guitar and warble of love lost from some unknown baritone.
I on the other hand seemed to be listening to the sounds of my own discontent. All I could hear were thoughts of how hard it is being here and questioning how much longer I can keep this commitment to care for Miss Cathy.
Believe me, I’m sick of the sound of my own belly aching and crying “whoa is me” but I don’t know….. I think I thought things would have gotten easier by now or…..different somehow-anything but the constant frustration, anger and ill at ease that I feel.
But, I constantly remind myself that this isn’t about me and it’s still early in the disease. This is the easy part where she’s more or less still herself so how can I possibly be thinking of bailing now? These are Halcyon days compared to what’s ahead.
So, I sit with my discontent, sharing coffee with it in the morning knowing it will leave me at some point during the day and freeing me to feel-sometimes joy, sometimes satisfaction in knowing that I’m doing the right thing but there’s never peace.
Mom on the other hand seems to have adjusted pretty well. Sure, the last tow years have been a big change for her too after living alone for almost ten years after pop died, but she’s always said she likes having family around. I’ve spent most of my life living alone, as if I were hatched and not part of any clan.
I can say that it is satisfying to know that she’s happy (or as happy as one can be with Alzheimer’s) I know that she likes having her son around-and I am “that” and I am “here”. Even though I keep to myself and lord knows we don’t talk very much she’s got Garth, Brooks, Dunn and Lady Antebellum to keep her company. It’s pretty much all country-all the time, she watches country music videos for hours at a time as she sits on the couch where she spends her days.
I drove her over to Tony’s for the Super Bowl last Sunday and on the drive we’d pretty much exhausted all conversation ten minutes into the hour plus drive leaving just the radio to fill the silence. But then I happened to switch from the classical station that I prefer to the country channel and through the rearview mirror I could see Miss Cathy light up like a Christmas tree.
Her mood was infectious and soon I was listening and humming along to the few songs or riffs that I recognized. We started talking between sets and before you know it we’d arrived at my brother’s place. I can’t remember having spent such a good time in her company for a long while.
Soon after we were inside the spell was broken, the old dynamics came back into play in my brother’s family room so I withdraw as Miss Cathy launched into a story that we’d all heard before but I could safely leave Tony and Suemi to be her audience as I once again turned to the sound of my own inner dialogue.
I wonder, like Miss Cathy’s new found interest in country music if this is just a phase or if I’m the last to know that this is it-life changes and suddenly you find yourself in Nashville and not in a New York state of mind.