No, No, No, you don’t have dementia, just chill out.
Once each year we go to a party night. A fundraiser. Remembering a brave man who lost his battle 10 years ago to motor neurone disease.
Efforts go into this night all year! It was super amazing. Raffle prizes were more than incredible with the super sellophane wrapping and pretty tied ribbons.
The kiddies in there party dresses chasing the flashing lights on the dance floor while swooshing around in their skirts like princesses. Young boys seeing how far they could skid. Thankful parents looking on knowing the children will be exhausted later on and vacate the dance floor to make way for tipsy parents bopping like it was 1999. (Me included; even punching the air in the wrong places of the song!)
We arrived and our table was shared with another mother and daughter, rather older than me and mum.
“You can sit next to that lady mum, you like a chat.” i announced as I pulled her chair out and sat her down.
“oohhh hahaha.” She replied wordless. Polar opposites. I’m happy people watching, mentally writing stories in my head, silently not chatting. If Mum doesn’t make a friend to talk to, in her eyes its a complete naff night.
So she began chatting, just as predicted.
Me chair dancing and foot tapping to the amazing music.
The mother of the party screws up her face in disbelief and yells across the table, “Do you actually like this noise?” And I of course agreed with mum that music is life and yes we loved the ‘noise’.
Then i heard something quite horrific. Aware that mum was having a really good conversation with the daughter telling her about her heart attack and how she is now living with me I overheard,
“No! No! Nooooo! There’s no way.”
“Yes, really.” Mum replied to the judgemental lady.
“There is no way you could sit there talking to me like that, having a conversation if you have dementia. No. Definitely not. They got that wrong. You don’t have dementia. IF I were you I would ignore them, just get up in the morning and enjoy your life, stop stressing about it!”
“Well, no, I don’t stress about it, I just get on with it.”
“No, there’s no way. That’s wrong.” She continued, in a way where she really was overstepping the mark. She was judging mum and insulting her daily struggles, insulting me at my caring efforts and generally thinking she knew all there was to know about the functions of the brain in dementia. Clearly that’s her opinion. She is entitled to think whatever she likes. But Do Not tell my mum to chill out and forget about it.
“Yes, really, she really does,” I had to interrupt, “When it’s very late stages she might find it hard holding a conversation but trust me, she’s not the same mum. She has had scans which show the tiny vessels in the vascular system feeding the brain cells are not reaching them, the oxygen lack is causing necrosis and that means she has dementia.” I continued to blind her with a little more science even if it wasn’t 100% accurate, I can use my lingo from my degree to put some things together and hopefully shut up this loudmouth bitch.
She had shut up my mum.
Mum fell silent.
That never happens.
If you know mum, you will know this was a massive deal for her.
Finding mums lovely friend who organises these events I asked who the woman was. I mentioned how quiet mum was since this comment.
The friend knew this lady but she knew mum better and told me she didn’t think mum looked herself when she came in that evening. Whereas I felt she was on form quite well that day.
Ok, we all form different opinions. I get that. But think before you speak.
Like, pretty much everyone tells mum about their own ‘brain farts’ where they walk up the stairs and think, ‘what did i come up here for again?’ and that is just about being kind, trying to make mum feel better and being able to relate to her forgetfullness. This is kind. And fine.
To tell her to chill out about a clearly life altering illness is not ok.
The entire evening was ruined, there was a terrible atmosphere and I wished this woman and her grumpy mum would go home. When they did, mums shoulders relaxed, she sighed and laughed, “Thank Gawd for that.”
Goodness knows how far these things set her back. If I were the one with the diagnosis I’m not so sure I could be as brave as mum. Would you want to go out? I don’t know if I could. These things are damaging and some people should really think about their kindness and actions before they engage a spiteful mouth.
Makes me cross.