O dia que minha mae se fui

 

vieille_ferme_ccdmdAté seite anhos,   crescei numa fazenda aonde poco  a poco os animais iaô diminuendo. O meu pãe não gustava desse tipo de trabalho. O seu pãe, meu avelo, lhe deu a fazenda porque a perdeu num jogo de cartas por desafio e por não perder tudo, troco o nome do proprietário por o dele. Assim, meu pãe fico o dono de tudo menos do próprio destino dele. E se fueiram os cabras, o bode, os carneiros, as vacas, as galinhas e perus, os cavalos e também os cachorros, os gatos e a minha família inteira.  Depois da morte do avela, meu pãe vendeu os campinos a um dono duma fazenda vizinha.

A esta fazenda fui construída com os manos do meu avelo, Joseph, alias Joe; um homem de negocio de animais que viajava muito de trem per todo a província do Quebec. Ele fui alguém importante no vila porque ele dava trabalho para muita gente e esperança de desenvolver a nossa região. Até que as vacas e os carneiros estavam lá, o meu pãe continuo a dar trabalho para os jovem em idade de ajudar na fazenda. Ele, no lugar de trabalhar na fazenda, fui embora por um tempo trabalhar commo linhador nos Esatados Unidos. Estas anhos foram o começo de vida de casamento da minha mãe com o meu pãe. Um pãe fora da casa.

A minha mãe era um verdadeira mulher de fazenda, quero dizer que ela não tenha medo de limpar a merda das vacas e de lhes ajudar a dar nascimento aos bezerros e aos cordeiros. O pãe da minha mãe, o pãe Toninho, era um marechal ferrando, a versão antiga do veterinário moderno por cima de ferrar os cavalos. De facto, ele sabia fazer de tudo, de construção de madeira até de construir tudo que era de ferro.

Naquele tempo da fazenda, porque meu pãe não tava là, a gente precisava de ajuda por cuidar de tudo. Ele não gustava, então não ficava. Muitas vezes quem ajudava eram alguns primos da minha mãe e pra eles era também um jeito de entrar no mondo do trabalho, assim era a primeira experiencia de trabalho que eles poderiam esperar em troque dum poco de dinheiro. Varias deles eram primos, tios, de longe o de perto.

80032233Me lembro um tempo da minha infância quando a minha mãe começo a trabalhar fora de casa, deixando os seus ninhos sozinhos para cuidar deles mesmo. Os maiores cuidando dos jovens. Naquela época, ante que os animais se fueiram, eu tinha a pena três o quatro anhos, falava já e adorava brincar com animais domésticos mas também com aqueles do quintal. Gustava de tudo que me permitiva de descobrir o mundo mesmo que fui perigoso.

Infelizmente para mim, o dia que minha mãe começo a trabalhar fora de casa, era um dia aonde tenha ainda vacas paras cuidar na fazenda. Como sempre, o pãe ‘tava fora de casa, trabalhando o bebendo.

O primo da minha mãe, ficou em casa. Lervis.

Ele me convido a ir nadar na água com ele no rio em baixo da costa no final do campinho. Ele era sempre tanto gentil comigo. Não podia saber o que ele ia fazer comigo, com minhas partidas intimas. Eu tan jovem, menina sim preconceito, não sabia nada do mundo adulto e fazia de tudo para agradecer e ser amada.

O dia que minha mãe saiu de casa para trabalhar ficou pra mim o começo dos abusos.

Les aidants naturels

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Je suis née dans une famille dont la mère avait un don. Celui d’aidante naturelle. C’est un don familial, je crois. On dit de ma mère qu’elle était toujours prête à aider son prochain en autant que ce n’était pas un voisin revanchard. Mes grand-parents maternels, Antoine et Adrienne étaient aussi de cette trempe d’individus altruistes, généreux, vaillants, sages. Ils lui ont passé ce don de même qu’à certains des autres enfants.

Selon la définition de Santé-Médecine, l’aidant naturel apporte de l’assistance à un individu en perte d’autonomie ou qui a besoin de soins. Celui ou celle qui agit comme aidant naturel peut aussi être nommé aidant familial et peut-être de la famille ou non. Ces personnes sont d’une grande importance dans le suivi médical, et également au niveau psychologique pour la personne en perte d’autonomie qui réclame une grande attention.

Depuis l’été 2011, plusieurs personnes sont entrées dans la vie de ma mère comme aidants naturels.

Ma soeur B. a hébergé maman pour l’été 2011. Une période d’ajustement, de décès aussi de mon beau-frère quelques mois plus tard.

Puis trois des premières personnes qui sont venues à la rescousse pour agir comme compagnons « surveillants » et assurer une vigie sur ses allées et venues, sa sécurité, sa prise de médicaments et sa santé mentale sont désormais passées de l’autre côté du rideau de la vie.

Deux d’entre elles sont décédées du cancer des poumons, 2013 puis 2015; elles étaient fumeuses et dieu sait que ma mère a sûrement fumé autant de fumée secondaire pendant qu’elles ont pu boucané leur fumée primaire. Ces sympathiques femmes, Lizette et Céline, ont été généreuses de leur temps et de leur aide. Nous, les enfants, avions besoin d’elles pendant que nous vaquions à nos besoins de travailleurs en ville. Elles étaient toujours disponibles pour faire chanter maman, lui faire écouter de la musique, conter une blague ou lui faire un tour en voiture en allant visiter une cousine ou une sœur dans le village voisin. L’autre personne, Oncle V., est le frère de maman. Lui aussi est décédé : 2015. C’est chez lui que maman est allée à sa sortie de l’hôpital après l’évaluation médicale qui lui a donné le verdict de maladie dégénérative de l’Alzheimer. Oncle V. était un homme habile de ses mains et intelligent comme pas un, généreux et il avait toute sa tête pour raisonner, penser, créer. Touché depuis le début de l’âge adulte par l’Ataxie, il a vu tranquillement son corps, au fil des années, se transformer et lui désobéir jusqu’à n’en faire qu’à sa tête et à la non-coordination de ses membres. Il a fini ses jours en chaise roulante.

Que Dieu veille sur leurs âmes.

L’année 2016, c’est Juliette et Élisabeth qui ont pris la relève. Une année difficile pour ma pauvre maman qui a perdu du poids et dépéri. Elle ne mangeait pas a sa faim ni ne s’alimentait correctement. Elle devait compter sur les décisions des personnes qui assuraient la surveillance chez-elle pour s’alimenter. Mais ce temps est fini. Ma mère a survécu. Différents services d’aide au logis et des services du centre local de santé communautaire (CLSC) ont également été mis en place durant toutes ces années. Une autre de mes soeurs, l’ainée, a assuré la gestion de ce manège qui tournait presque rondement pendant quelques années. Elle aussi proche-aidante naturelle.

C’est maintenant mon frère ainé qui s’occupe d’elle. Il a tout laissé de la ville de Longueuil, amis, travail, amours, passe-temps, appartement, pour aller  s’installer au village natal avec elle. Il est un proche aidant. Lui aussi a reçu ce don d’aidant naturel. Il préfère dévouer sa vie à aider notre mère plutôt que de la reconduire dans un centre pour personne en perte d’autonomie et souffrant d’Alzheimer. « Tant qu’elle pourra vivre chez-elle, c’est mieux pour elle, c’est ce qu’elle veut. » Depuis juillet 2016, maman a gagné 14 kilos, elle va mieux et sort en voiture tous les jours. Elle est plus heureuse, c’est certain. Lui aussi aura besoin de vacances et de temps de répits. Je passerai quelques semaines encore cet été avec maman pour donner congé à mon frère. L’été dernier, quand je suis descendue durant trois semaines pour préparer le jardin avec elle et lui changer les idées en sortant en voiture, j’ai découvert qu’elle adorait manger des gâteaux que nous préparions. J’ai également découvert que chaque fois que je laissais ma voiture stationnée devant la porte, elle me disait  :

  • Est-ce-que c’est à toi la voiture dorée devant la maison?
  • Oui maman, c’est la mienne!
  • Est-ce qu’on va prendre une ride?

C’est devenue sa ritournelle préférée.

Deux semaines passées, je lui parlais au téléphone et lui demandais si elle se souvenait du nom de ses enfants. Je voulais lui faire pratiquer sa mémoire, celle qui restait.
– Bien sûr, qu’elle m’a dit en commençant à nommer les trois premiers correctement dans l’ordre de leur naissance. Puis elle s’est arrêtée.
– Et les autres? lui ai-je demandé.
– Trois, j’en ai juste trois, c’est assez, a t-elle ajouté sans plus.
– Et les trois derniers? On ne compte pas? lui avais-je alors demandé, étonnée.
C’est alors qu’elle s’est fâchée et a commencé a parlé sur un ton dur et à insister que trois c’était suffisant.
Je n’ai pas osé la contredire ni même continuer la conversation. Je sentais qu’elle usait ce ton dure signifiant son mécontent que je connais quand même bien, alors je lui ai demandé de remettre le récepteur du téléphone à mon frère ainé à qui j’ai raconté ce qui s’était passé. Probablement qu’elle aurait une boutade pour encore quelques minutes et je voulais qu’il comprenne la situation en la lui expliquant.

La communication entre membres de la famille est également un maillon important pour les suivis et les décisions. Cependant, si nous avons reçu le don d’aidant naturel, il n’en a pas été de même avec celui de la communication. Nous avons beaucoup de travail a faire sur cette compétence. Je me demande si c’est la même chose dans les familles en général.

Si jamais, cher lecteur, vous désirez témoigner sur ce sujet (la communication) ou sur celui d’aidant naturel, veuillez m’envoyer vos commentaires sur cette page, il me fera plaisir de vous lire et d’échanger avec vous.

Je remercie ceux et celles qui s’abonnent à mon blogue!

 

Fêtes 2015

noel sans visage2015J’ai téléphoné Mère la semaine dernière, quelques jours avant Noël. Tout allait bien dans notre conversation où je lui racontais comment se passait ma fin de semestre au travail avec les corrections, les réunions d’évaluation des notes finales des étudiants et la préparation pour le prochain semestre. Elle écoutait sagement mes lamentations de professeur, puis après quelques instants de silence de sa part et où je lui demande si elle est encore là, elle me demanda, « est-ce que tu enseignes encore? » Tristement, je lui réponds que bien sûr, j’enseignais encore et que tout allait bien de ce côté-là. Comme j’allais raccrocher et lui offrir mes salutations finales, elle me posa une drôle de question. Lire la suite « Fêtes 2015 »

Lettre à ma mère pour ses quatre-vingt ans

Chère maman,

On n’a pas tous les jours 20 ans, imagine quand on multiplie par quatre?

Quand je pense à toi, je t’imagine dans ta jeunesse en train de danser le two step dans les bras de jeunes admirateurs, la samba et le cha-cha avec ta jeune sœur Denise admirant ton savoir, folle de désir de surpasser ta souplesse et ton sens du rythme.

Encore aujourd’hui, à ma demande, tu réussis à faire quelques pas de gigue dans la cuisine et rigoler avec fierté de ta capacité à pouvoir, encore, sautiller comme à tes 20 ans. « Tu vois comme je peux encore danser?»

Mother/Mère
Mother/Mère

Je me rappelle les histoires que tu me racontais de ton enfance et de ton adolescence; les coups pendables que tu organisais avec tes frères pour taquiner ta sœur Pauline ou encore pour te sauver de la surveillance parentale afin d’aller patiner sur le ring de glace et avoir le plaisir du vent glacial rougir tes joues adolescentes. Tes récits ont construit mon imaginaire et m’ont incité à développer ma créativité.

Malgré les défis que la vie t’a fait rencontrer, souvent seule, tu as su élever tes six enfants au meilleur de ta capacité, dans la dignité et l’espoir de jours meilleurs. Au diable les ragots des voisins; leurs mauvaises langues de vipères ne valaient rien en comparaison à l’amour que tu avais et a encore pour ta descendance. À la sueur de ton front, tu as travaillé tard dans la nuit pour assurer une vie décente à tes proches. Ton mariage malheureux ne t’a pas empêché de chercher le bonheur lorsqu’il était possible et de le trouver à ta façon.

Épouse, femme, mère, collègue de travail et amie, tu as toujours su trouver le souffle nécessaire pour guider ceux sur ton chemin qui cherchaient tes conseils. Pionnière à bien des égards pour le rôle des femmes dans la petite communauté où tu as évolué, que ce soit pour le travail hors foyer, la prise de parole pour défendre tes droits et ceux des plus infortunés, l’affrontement des commérages face au divorce, tu as courageusement poursuivi ta route, la tête haute. Tu es une femme brave et un modèle de courage, de dévotion.

Pour moi, je sais que tes bras ont bercé mes nuits insomniaques et fiévreuses, cajolé mon corps et l’ont protégé contre le froid;

Que ta voix a rassuré mes peurs et éloigné mes larmes en me chantant les vieilles mélodies d’antan;

Que tes gestes m’ont enseigné une ligne droite et une ligne courbe; celle pour avancer et celle pour me défendre;

Que ton humour a teinté mes journées sombres; tes paroles ont su tissé le meilleur de ma personne et m’aider à regarder devant.

Aujourd’hui ta mémoire vacille dans le néant; quelques bribes de ta vie demeurent encore intact : tu te souviens de nos noms, celui de tes six enfants, et c’est ce qui compte. Moi je me souviens pour toi de ta vie bien accomplie, de ta créativité, de ta bravoure et de ta force de caractère. Lors de l’une de nos récentes conversations où je te rappelais l’approche de ton anniversaire et des quatre-vingt années que tu allais atteindre, tu étais enchantée d’avoir cet âge. Je t’ai alors demandé jusqu’à quel âge tu avais l’intention de vivre.

« Moi, je vivrai au moins jusqu’à 100 ans! »

Bonne fête maman, que tes 80 ans soient lumineux!

Ta fille qui t’aime

Alzheimer

April 4th, 2015
Holy Saturday

I just called Mother for a little chat and see if by any chance I could get some information on Louise, one of her guardian, friend and neighbour who has been admitted to hospital a week ago. She has full-blown cancer and six months to live. When I saw mother could not say any more last news about her friend, I decided not to ask any more question about the topic, even to the other guardian of Mother, Julienne, because a couple of days ago when I talked to her on the phone, she was crying as I was trying to start the conversation about that subject in order to know what was happening.
Mother needs guardians at home to supervise her as she does not always remember many things from one minute to the other one. She has Alzheimer. It all started fours years ago, with one of my brother and sister-in-law deciding to get mother in a Psychiatric department of the Hospital in Wolfe River for a mental health evaluation (MHE). In my opinion, she has probably been living with that disease for a while. I would say it started at least ten years ago when she started to adopt cats.

As we started the phone conversation, I asked her if she knew who was talking to her. She answered the phone herself and was quite enthusiastic, not being surprise to hear me and talking like we were very good friends. She said,  Yes of course I know who you are, you are my daughter. I was happy that she could still remember my voice and my name. I asked her how she was today on this special day of Easter. She was then surprise to hear that April had already made it and asked me to hold on a minute as she goes to the wall where the calendar is officially pined and turned the page from March to April.

– And which day are we?
– Saturday the forth, Mother.
– The Forth, already?
– Yes, and Easters is tomorrow, do i confirm her altogether.
– Easters, Easters, yes, Easters.

She then changed subject and started talking about one of her cat that is similar to some other one.

Art meditating
Art meditating

Mother love cats. She used to have more than a dozen of them. Her house was some kind of a Cat rescue resource, but instead of giving them away, she was caring for them. This is my Mother’s life story : caring for others, may it be cats or human beings. From my point of view, the cats stories is linked with the beginning of her memory lost and Alzheimer.  She was adopting any cats coming her way. Even people from other villages around were dropping cats in front of mother’s house, knowing she would care for them. At the end, She had cats all over the house and could not maintain the cleanliness of where she was living. The smell of cats’ excrement was more than I could support myself and she started getting mad at me because I was complaining about it arguing that is was bad for my health as much as for hers. To revenge herself, mother was insulting me by saying that because I was living in the city, I had become some kind of a Princess – know – it – all, and that her, because she was an old  poor woman who had been growing up in a pig house, would always be living in one. She was exaggerating in order to hurt me because I had somehow hurt her. This is the mean mother, but she is not always like that. This is around in 2002.

So after that, my visits to her became scarcely. Every time I would try to go and get some good moments with her, trying to help her because she was complaining about the fact that she needed help with washing her kitchen and getting right of all the old clothes she had, it would end up in fights and arguing about her not willing to let me do what she first asked me come for : helping her to clean her house. If i was not arguing with her, it would be with my brother who had been living with her most of his life. Because of all this, had I plan to stay for a week visit would be cut short for a two days one.

Today, she was insisting on telling me on the phone that she had a picture of a cat sticking on the fridge and that she had one just like that. When i asked her which cat it was, she could not tell. This is when I can tell that things are not going to well on her side. She has now three cats that she cherishes more that her own kids and grand kids. She loves them and gets upset if one of them goes outside of her house. So I asked her to describe me the picture of the cat she was seeing in order to see how were her perceptions of the picture and if she was going to be able to do it. I also wanted to know which cat she was talking about. So i asked her to describe the image she was seeing.
– It has a black line on its back and some black stripes on the sides as well, she says.
– Ok and what is the other colour that is not black?, was I asking her.
– Gray, it’s all Gray with black stripes.
– I see mother, so what is the name of that cat? i kept asking her.
– I don’t remember,  no more emotion than the fact that she just did not remember.
– Ok, so how many cats do you have? Have I continued.
But she keeps silent for a while, which i interpreted for « i don’t know ». I gave her the answer and started with some kind of a clue game to help her.

– So you have three cats, one of the cat has not tail, and its name start with A.

– Art! That’s Art, yes, he has no tail and likes to play all the time.
– Very good, yes that’s it. Another one’s name starts with C. it is a female cat with three colours : white with spots of black and orange. Mother kept silent once more. I add some other clues. Its name starts with a C + and o. I realized she might not be able to remember the sound of those two letters together so i say,« C +o is  Co »…
As soon as i say the sound syllable /ko/ she kept moving with the whole name :  « Cocotte  » said Mother.
– Yes, I repeated, yes it is Cocotte. I was happy she did remember this one too.
– Now what is the name of your third cat? It starts with V add i and r – it sounds like Vir…!
– Virule? Julienne in the background repeated loudly « Virgule » but mother did not hear it and she kept repeating over and over « Virule, Virule ».
– Almost, its name is Virgule, I told her. Now, this picture you have on your fridge, which cat looks like it?
– Virgule, she says, he is a big gray cat with black stripes and a long tail.
– Great Mother, you did good!

I ended the call soon after pretty happy of myself and of my Mother’s memory.

However, when i told that story to brother Luis, he said he was the one who had brought the article about obese cats and put in on the fridge, but the picture looked like Art, not Virgule.

Keep trying Mother. The exercise was worth it. It made me happy and is part of good memories I am keeping of us and of our conversations. I am actually writing these blog entries in order to remember her, us, the stories of our family. Because I know this is a life with fast pace and I am holding to those last years like only written words can.

Saving Mom

The visit

Have you ever saved someone’s life before? It hadn’t happened to me until last May.

I drove from Bytown to Murès. Hours within which i stopped at the Canadian kennel in Elfield to drop my two lovely dogs, stopped in Harrisburg at Tim’s to get a coffee and filed up the gas tank and finally hit the road directly on the Highway. Nine hours drive. One stop on the way to get some more gas. The weather was perfect and I enjoyed the wind entering my window. From time to time I was playing with it as my left hand outside was surfing on or resisting to the wind. No music, just the sound of me and the road. Nothing better to meditate, thinking of nothing, looking straight to the yellow line and making sure I am not over passing the speed limits. A smooth ride after all.

I arrived in Murès at 6 h pm and i went directly at my brother in law’s mother since I was to stay in the apartment upstairs that they rent for the family when they come for a visit. I wanted to be sure I had the key to get in. Thirty minutes later, after I put all my stuff inside and thanked my sister’s mother in law, I drove to my mom’s place and took in with me the food for the week. Mostly left over and fresh veggies and fruits bought earlier during the week for myself. I was a bit shaking after so many kilometres of road and speed. A week before, I had decided I was going to travel to see my mom since she could not move out of her place. To much changes of environment for her mean stress and distress . This is what Alzheimer does to human being. And again, I was supposed at first to cut the drive trip in two sleeping over at my sister’s house on the way, because it takes so long and not in my better years of my life. The day before I left Bytown, i called my sister to let her know that I was going to give it a try to drive to mother’s place in one shot, so no sleep over in Villemarie. So glad I did it.

Once in mom’s kitchen, i decided to prepare us a meal, some beluga lentils with rice and some veggies. Mother would help me by stirring the veggies on the skillet but would go back to her rocking chair saying that she was feeling dizzy. That happened  a couple of times. I did not make any comments on it, neither took any action about asking why she would feel dizzy, although this was unusual complains. Julienne, one of her daily guardian, left at 7 pm for her home. Meanwhile, she was telling us some stories of her own and singing some of her own compositions. That made us laugh. Good and funny Julienne. One day I will write one of her story here, it is worth the read.

So, after table was set and we were ready to eat, it was around 7 h 30 at night. Mother was looking more at the lentils and the rice then eating it, taking one bite from time to time, enough to let me think that she did not like the meal I had prepared for us. I told her she did not have to eat it if she did not like the food. She was saying that she liked it and kept trying to eat. Then she says that she felt dizzy. She was laying back to her chair, closed her eyes and suddenly started shaking her hands and upper body. I was in a state of choc. Many questions rushed into my head. What is happening? Heart attack? Epilepsy crisis? What do I do? Then came into my head the publicity of the gentleman having a stroke. I started calling her name :

«Mother? Mother? Can you hear me?»

Nothing was coming from her mouth but the little food she had been eating. It actually looked like she had eaten more food I had first though, then I realize she was also vomiting.

«Dear God, help me!»

What would you have done if you were in my shoes?

I knew i needed an ambulance for her but since i did not know if the 911 emergency number reached the region i was in, i decided to called the only number i had in mind by heart, the one of my sister Joe. I called her, told her to call an ambulance right away because Mother was not fine at all. Without spending more than 15 seconds on the phone to tell her that, i rush to mother and called her name again. No response. Now her false teeth were almost out of her mouth plus the vomiting and her face look as she was in much pain. I got afraid she would choke on all that and decided to give her the first aid care. Even though i have taken three time the First Aid courses in my whole life, i have never been in a situation where i needed to use it before now. I pulled her out of her chair by under her armpits and laying her down on the floor on her side with the proper position. I started to take was ever was left in her mouth to help her breath. some food was coming out but not the false teeth. As i was going to look further with my finger in her mouth, i heard her saying she was feeling better. She wanted to roll over on her back but i ask her gently to not move and that the ambulance were coming to take her to hospital.

«No, not the hospital, i am fine, i don’t need it she says softly» Her face looked greyish, her lips were pale but she still had her bright and scary metal blue eyes looking at me. I told her to not argue with me and that I was not in a position to care for her in this situation and hospital was a must since we did not know what had happened. Then I started saying « Well, if the ambulance is coming from Wolves River, you can die 100 times before the ambulance comes from there». A bad joke, I admit, but a reality, since i did not have any idea how emergency situation were being taking care of in this area.

***

 

Have you updated you First Aid skills lately? Hurry up if you did not and rush to it if you have no idea how to care for someone who is in a serious health distress situation. Follow the link above for Canadian residents and make it your goal for the month.

Do you know who to call in case of emergency? What about the area where you live in ? It is always better to find out before then in a situation like i was in. I was half prepared for that but i have a quick mind and reached for some help. How would you respond in such a situation?