Sometimes I completely blew my mom’s mind. I know that. She even would say to me that she totally didn’t get me, but nevertheless, she supported me. I admit, I have looked at her and wondered, how can we be so totally different and yet still be mother and daughter?
It isn’t a lack of respect in the manner that I loved (and still love) her – I just couldn’t understand her. We were polar opposites on so many things.
Now, as I watch her on her Alzheimer’s Adventure, I wonder how much of her personal adventure is affected by who she’s been throughout her life.
As y’all know, I am a personal development junkie, and so reading Florence Litteaur’s book Personality Plus https://amzn.to/3ENJH4v (my affiliate link in Amazon to the book) – opened my eyes to so much! You see in the book, there is a little test that you can take (no eye rolling – it is actually fun!). This test helps you to learn so much about yourself and others.
So, Florence explains that there are 4 different personality types. (Names of them are hers – descriptions are mine)
- Powerful Choleric – Strong, Decisive, Impatient, Opinionated, Take charge, Leader
- Popular Sanguine – Talkative, Life of the party, Friendly, Louder, Smiles, Cheerleader
- Perfect Melancholy – Organized, Artistic, Moody, Creative, Quiet, Actor or Office Personnel
- Peaceful Phlegmatic – Goes with the flow, Mild mannered, Friends with everyone, Even tempered, Moderator, Background Employee
I read that book, and found out that I am a Powerful and Popular Choleric Sanguine. Which explained so much to me! My idea of organized resembles a scene from burglary where they are searching frantically for the missing clue! I of course know where all the things are (sort of, in the general area anyway). I have always been opinionated, just haven’t always spoken up. I am generally involved in everything around me, and have often had many plates spinning. I thrive on activity, having multiple projects, tight timelines and adore the thrill of a hectic crazy schedule. (truly it is a high for me!)
Mom, however I learned is a Peaceful and Popular Phlegmatic Sanguine. That made incredible sense! Everyone loves my mom. My mom had a saying about others, she admired this trait, and what was funny – I don’t think that she realized that it was a trait that she portrayed as well. Her saying was, “They wouldn’t say ‘Sh*t’, if they had stepped in a pile of it.” It was her way of saying that someone was so mild mannered and sweet. She certainly did and does fit that mold.
Then suddenly – out of the blue and unexpected it would seem (until you learn the personality), something would happen and she would completely change her opinion on something. We watched her do it with relationships. For example, my dad and her divorced back in 1989 or 1990. For years prior they had communication issues, and didn’t work on them or through them. Mom would back down, shut down, and just be passive aggressive, but not stand firm with dad. My dad, would assume that since she did all of that – everything would settle down in a bit and life would go on. It was pretty much a pattern with them. Well, after years of it – she took it until she was done. Then, there was no going back. Divorce.
Years later, as she began being exposed to personal development with me, and attending church too, she mentioned that had she known the information she was learning – she wasn’t sure that they would have divorced, she said they may have actually talked things through and made some changes.
Mom was perfectly content to run a household. She took pride in how nice her house looked, and making food for her family and such. She was happy just being home and ‘tinkering’ she called it. Never really interested in stepping out and doing more. She was good just in her little home, reading, crocheting, watching tv and visiting friends or family that came by. She traveled with my step dad, and with her boyfriend Bill. She enjoyed it, but I think it was more of doing what they wanted, rather than it being a burning desire to travel for her.
Having a routine for mom was as normal as breathing. When something was out of order, she was unsettled.
For me? Routine has been a challenge, I can even write out a schedule and routine to follow and then I almost always find a way to change something. Travel? Mom would laugh at me, because any excuse to go and I was ready! We were like night and day.
When mom lived with us, it cracked me up, because I heard her refer to a nurse about me. She called me “Boss B*tch”. The nurse was surprised, but I loved it. I knew that mom wasn’t degrading me, she meant that because while I was bossy and strong – she also felt safe. Prior to the disease progressing where it is now, mom actually told me that since I was “Boss B*tch”, she knew that she didn’t have to worry about anything with her future, because I would make her decisions and I wouldn’t allow anyone to take advantage or harm her. She felt safe.
I look over all of that, and it makes me wonder if perhaps the smoothness of her transition with the Alzheimer’s Adventure has been in part due to her personality and her complete faith in me?
When she gave up driving – she simply said one day as we were riding home from church that she didn’t recognize where she was and felt that it wasn’t safe for her to drive anymore. Then she handed her life over to me to handle getting her where she needed and taking care of what needed done. There was no fighting about it. There was no concern on her end about it. She just knew that she was done and that I would make things happen. No worries – she just stopped driving.
When we moved her into her apartment – same thing – she just told me that she felt it would be a good idea to live with some assistance. So, I found a senior apartment and we moved her there. She loved it.
Then, we started seeing that she was going to need much more supervision and care than that, and moved her in with us. We gave her the master suite, and set it up like her little apartment. She loved it. We altered our lives to make sure one of us was always home to care for her.
We began to have a routine wether I liked it or not. I would lay out her bowl, spoon and box of Cheerios on the table. For quite a while she was able to find the milk in the fridge (we learned to keep the level low enough that she could comfortably carry it and pour it) and make her cereal. Always Honey Nut Cheerios. Never varied. She would get her coffee, which we always made sure was hot and ready. Life took on a structure that fit her needs.
Fast forward to now, mom lives in a special assisted living that is geared for memory care. It is a locked facility, but she isn’t aware of that. It is set up like a home, in that she has a bedroom and bathroom, and down the hall is a nice open living room and foyer. There is a dining area, and a tv room and an activity room, plus in the center is an open yard with 3 sides surrounded by the building and the fourth has a tall private garden fence with a locked gate. Again, she has no idea that she can’t just walk out of the security of the facility. For me, it gives me comfort that I won’t receive a call that she is missing – for her, it feels like home, and she is comfortable and relaxed and happy there.
Because of her personality, the aides that work there that come at her loving, smiling, and friendly in a slow and calm manner – receive the same response back. She feels safe and relaxed. She can tinker in her room, or sit with friends wherever. Her meals are provided and there is routine and consistency. When she is alert, she tells me that she is happy there and she loves her home.
This makes me wonder, if since her personality is one that is mild mannered, calm, non-confrontational and she is friends with everyone, enjoys talking and smiling – perhaps that is why this transition into the Alzheimer’s Adventure has been so smooth? I hear and read of other’s that have had a much less pleasant experience, and I am so grateful that mom isn’t like that.
It is hard to see her this way, but it helps that when she can tell me how she is doing that she is always happy and doing well. She seems to be living in the moment, which isn’t that something we are often reminded to do – be present in the moment?
Wild isn’t it? How I am still learning from my mama? Thank you mom!
In the moment, Amy
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