This has NEVER made sense

“This does not make sense,” said the doctor.

He was looking at test results on a complete physical of my mother done over 5 years ago.  He was specifically talking about the x-ray of her lungs.

As is common with alcoholics, my mother was a heavy smoker from the time she was 18.  The x-ray showed clear lungs; clean as a whistle.

“This does not make sense.” said the doctor looking at the liver function test.

Mommy’s liver function was at 100%.

Go Figure.

I hear that a lot about Mommy;

“This does not make sense.”

Social workers, doctors, nurses, speech pathologists, GI docs; apparently my mother is a medical marvel.

She should have died  years ago given her lifestyle. At Denver General they also did a complete physical initially believing she would not leave the hospital alive given her level of alcohol consumption.

The assumption is that surely she must have Cancer.

How could she possibly not?

Today on the phone with the social worker at her nursing home I heard it again.

“This does not make sense.”

My mother has dementia and is dying, slowly, and yet every day she gets her self up, gets dressed and sits in the common area with either her deck of cards playing solitaire or sits with one of her stuffed animals gently stroking it.

Most dementia patients on her floor are in some other world;

“My mommy is coming to pick me up from school any minute now; I better find my school bag.”

“ I am going to prom tonight. Do you like my hair?”

I join the journey with the others who live on my floor;

“I think your books are on the counter there,” I say pointing to the pile of magazines in the common area.

“Oh my! You look beautiful! Have a wonderful time at the dance.”

I have a good time staying with them where they are; in the past, in a happy place.

My mother hates it when I do this. She gives me ‘the look’ which means

“Stop that, right now. You are being ridiculous.”

She is right in one sense. It is ridiculous; but it is kind and it is helpful for later stage dementia patients who are living in the past. I join them and they stay calm. It works.

“This does not make sense,” said the social worker today.

My mother is losing weight at a rapid pace and is still active.

“Your mother will still stand by the door waiting for anyone coming in our going out. She is a flight risk.”


That would be my mother.

A flight risk. Take that seriously, I think to myself.

That would be the Beast of alcoholics dementia playing out in my mothers brain.

Wernicke – Korsakoff is not like Alzheimers or other dementia. It does not present in the same way at all.

My mother is an anomaly;  Still.

She stands out from the crowd and is Going Her Own Way.

“This does not make sense,” they all say.

You got that right, I want to say.

This has NEVER made sense.

My mother; she Goes Her Own Way.

That is the only way I can make sense of any of it.

~ by Step On a Crack on November 5, 2011.

15 Responses to “This has NEVER made sense”

  1. I think you are the lovely and unique daughter of a perhaps, to be kind, unlovely and unique mother. Your mother is doing this her way, and why not, I suppose.
    I wish you joy and strength.


    • Carolyn, Thank you for being here. You are right: my mother is doing this her way. I need to gain some acceptance of that fact and let some things go. I appreciate your kind words. I do not feel lovely, I feel resentful. Maybe there is a balance in there somewhere. Thank you! peace, Jen


  2. You’ve spent so much time chasing “the one who does not make sense” — her … in so many ways. Inasmuch as my mom and your mom are different … they are quite similar. My mom built a life from absolute shit/poverty … finished college at 17, became a teacher. Married my dad, because he cried. Her life ended. She wanted us to all go away.

    I know your pain (in a small, small) way. Itty bitty way … but your pain is so deep … i can’t fully feel it. I feel it through you, and for you. I’m always ON YOUR SIDE … and holding my strength, for YOU! … you have done such a good job chasing her … let her go her own way so you can continue to love those who can love. And btw, i love you, my friend!!!! mel


  3. Jen – I was just thinking yesterday how it seems to me that it would be easier for you and for your Mom if she had just plain old dementia and didn’t remember you or thought you were someone else. Maybe not, I don’t know – I can’t make any sense of it either. It’s just so especially sad that her critical spirit has survived intact.
    I’ve long had a odd fear that I’ll develop dementia and that I’ll become mean spirited. I’ve caused enough hurt in my life and so desperately don’t want to cause anyone, even strangers who might have to care for me, any pain.
    And that, I suppose, is behind my wishing your mother could just forget if she can’t remember kindly.
    God, fortunately, does not consult me about this. I’m consulting Him instead in steady prayer for grace for you as your mother continues to go her own way,


    • Oh Debbie! Whatever pain you have caused has been made right! You walk a walk that I deeply admire. YOU are walking in Grace.

      Your fear is just fear, right? yes. It is. ONLY FEAR….

      I often wish my mother had Alzheimers instead. My husband grandfather had it and the journey, though heartbreaking, evened out eventually. I think of that all the time and then remember as you say “god does not consult me….” Peace, Jen


  4. To be so self-abused and still have the pillars of health (lungs, kidneys, etc.).
    To have such a loveable daughter and still not love her.
    No sense at all.
    To live mean-spirited and die mean-spirited.
    Makes sense–very sad sense.
    I wonder if the medical staff looks at your mom’s spirit and notices your love:
    No sense.
    But it makes sense to God that you would love the unlovely, total sense.
    He has visited us so that we may have the strength to do as He did.


    • Kathy, You are dead on. My priest, Father Chris, said “You don’t need to love her. God does. You need to take care of yourself for you and for your family. Let God Love her and Know He does” I love Father Chris. I have been amazed at how many social workers, nurses, docs, etc have said “You would be well with in your right to leave her her and never come back” they do see how she is with me and they support me in making choices that defy my heart. I figure that is my God working in MY life. sometimes it seems selfish. Does that make any sense at all? I DO in my weak moments triggered PTSD OCD driven moments want her to Love me. In my sober heart I KNOW that is not gonna happen that way I want. I think of all Mary lost and all we gained. That informs my choices. Now that DOES make sense. Right? so confusing…


  5. I’ve never been one to think too far ahead and maybe that’s good because the path has always taken turns I didn’t expect. I have taken from your writing your path has always been one of unexpected turns, dead ends and the unexplainable. You may grow weary at it all but you’ve not given in. You have found hope in the Only One that lead us through it all. I read something recently that says “God doesn’t always calm the storms. Sometimes he lets the storm rage and calms his child”. I hope you can take comfort and find truth in that.


    • Debby, In the program there is that “90 meetings in 90 days thing” I am thinking of making it “90 masses in 90 days”. I think I am not LETTING GOD do Gods thing. Your insightful comment is your Angel way of doing Gods work: I gotta get me some God! xx Jen thank you very much…


  6. Though she doesn’t make sense and hasn’t made sense through much of your life with her–you do. Hang on to that, Jen.

    Prayers for you always.


  7. “Doesn’t make sense” is another way of saying “special”. Maybe your mother is beginning to take after you!


  8. It used to scare me the way my mom’s mental status would change. Her dementia was from the amonia levels. With the proper meds I could reverse it. It was a balancing act.


    • I know exactly what you mean! If we had caught this earlier with my mom we could have tried Thiamine therapy; too late. We have had some luck with other family members who were alcoholics and using Thiamine BUt the kicker always is: they just need to Quit Drinking.

      I hate the unknowing of what will be behind the locked door of my moms nursing home and I struggle with the resentment of a life wasted (hers) and lives damaged (ours). It IS exactly as you say: a balancing act and I am tired of the whole mess.


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