Bat’s in the attic…

**This post is part of Indie Ink’s Weekly Writing Challenge.  Amy LaBonte was my Challenger. This was her topic to me: “bat’s in the attic.  I in turn challenged Mare .**

This is not fiction…  My husband suggested I write about her (although, not quite like this).***

My mother in law (MIL) passed away last week. She was in her eighties, lived in a nursing home, and in her own world. She had been in her own world for a long time, but she didn’t always live there.

My MIL married young, had five children, and was always slightly paranoid (the faint murmurings of “bats in the attic” started very early on). We had a good relationship for many years. I actually had a better relationship with her than my husband did. She and I did a lot of things together — road trips to Las Vegas, shopping, and tons of other things. She was a lot of fun in those years. I am thankful for those memories.

Everything changed, for all of us, when she had bacterial meningitis the second time. (Yes, she had it twice). She survived the first bout unscathed. She was a completely different person after the second bout. That’s when the “bats in the attic” came to stay.

As I mentioned, she was always slightly paranoid. After her 2nd round with meningitis, she was a changed woman and she no longer hid her paranoia. She worried about earthquakes (unreasonably), she worried about her neighbors, she worried about the water she drank. Only her worry wasn’t normal. It was exaggerated. She made life for my father-in-law (FIL) miserable, due to the paranoia. She couldn’t quell the panic and paranoia that would ring in her head, as she started to believe the voices of the “bats in the Attic.”

My MIL had one final, simple bout of the flu, that pushed her over the edge of sanity and we couldn’t grab her hands fast enough to bring her back to reality. She wanted to stay with the “bats in the attic,” they were comfortable and familiar, so she did.

When she went to the home (my FIL went to live with our nephew), she was put on medication that we thought would bring her back to the present. It didn’t. She grew worse. She believed that she was being pursued by Al Qaeda, she would try to escape, she would hide, she would yell. On occasion she thought she was being poisoned and would refuse her medication. She rarely recognized the family and she was downright nasty. But, it wasn’t her.  It was cacophony of the “bats in the attic.” They had taken over.

My FIL passed away a few months back. I’m not sure she was ever told that he died. I’m not sure the “bats in the attic” would have allowed her to know.

The family tried to have patience, but it is hard when someone you care about has checked out of the present, and is in their own world.

The “bats in the attic” had full control of her and did until last week, when she died.

***This is what my husband sent to me via text message on what to write: “My mom, bats in the attic, end of story.”


16 thoughts on “Bat’s in the attic…

  1. What a tough, tough situation. We had someone who became very ugly quite often, but it was a lifelong thing. When she died, it was so sad that everyone viewed it as a relief. I’m praying that something like this doesn’t happen to me, just as Karen is hoping there will be cures. But only time will tell. Yet another reason to LIVE in the present! Good post, S. 🙂

  2. Sherree,

    What a moving account of your MIL’s illness and decline. You and your husband are brave to have faced this–I’m not sure I could.

    Recently I faced my Dad’s physical illness, which was harrowing enough. There were only a couple of days, following an eight-hour surgery, when Dad was mentally absent due to after effects of anesthesia, and I confess they were the most difficult times for me. Or perhaps it’s true that the devil you know is easier to bear than the one you don’t.

    After a second, shorter surgery (removal of three toes), Dad spent five weeks in a nursing home for wound care and physical therapy. The majority of the patients were like your MIL, living in their own worlds–and not necessarily better ones. (Indeed, short-term patients recuperating from illness or injury were so rare that when Dad told people he was going home in a few weeks, they sometimes thought he was delusional. But he did go home.) It was an eye-opening experience, though one I could happily have done without.

    Even before Dad’s experience and our inside view of a nursing home, I had wondered how society will deal with the fact that our ability to treat physical illness and prolong life has outpaced our ability to keep the mind intact. I’m hoping that by the time I reach my 80s there will be a solution.

  3. Pingback: – The Blog Library

  4. I was profoundly moved by your touching portrayal of your once vibrant MIL and how her decline impacted everyone.

    I’ve heard of the heartbreak to families hit hard when a loved one had Alzeimers. This story was unique. You told it from a different perspective, coming from a daughter-in-law who cherished her MIL.

    Sounds to me that she and everyone else in the family are lucky to have you amongst them.

    I truly enjoyed how you evolved the challenge of “bats in the attic” into a heartfelt, moving read.

    • Jeannette –

      Thank you so very much for your lovely words. I am very fortunate that I had a fantastic relationship with my mother and father-in-law. We are all lucky.

      My husband deserves the credit for how I ended up doing the challenge, I just wrote from my heart.

      I’m so glad you read the post (sorry I didn’t email it to you, it was already published).

  5. Pingback: The Week In Review: August 15-19

  6. Oh Sherree, I hope your MIL is in a much better place without all those fears. It always saddens me to see/hear people who once had lives full of joy and happiness be lost to things like this. I’m glad you were able to see that side of her even though I’m sure it was heartbreaking to see the other side as well.

    (((Hugs to You and the Mister)))

  7. Wow, I had no idea that the prompt would bring this up. I am also very sorry for your pain, and the pain of everybody else. I never had anyone in my family go completely bats in the attic (!) though there were some close temporary calls… Your husband is funny with his text!

    • Actually, this was NOT what I planned to write! I had a completely different story (fiction) planned. It was just a timing thing.

      Thank you for your kind words – the prompt was a good one 🙂 I laughed out loud when I saw it.

      My husband sent that when I told him I was stumped (after he said to write about his mom). It worked!

      I look forward to more of your prompts down the road.

  8. I am very sorry for your loss. I used to volunteer at a nursing home and saw so many people who didn’t know where or even who they are. And it was heartbreaking to see the family members trying to hide the hurt and pain of seeing their loved ones in that state. You have taken an extremely difficult experience and written about it beautifully. I’m glad you were able to find such an outlet. I hope that it has helped at least a little. I’ll keep your family in my prayers.


    • Thank you Diane for your kind words.

      I think you nailed it on the head about “hiding the hurt.” That’s the hardest part – when someone doesn’t recognize you or doesn’t want you to be there. You can’t hide that hurt, that pain. Especially when it’s a parent.

      It was hard to write, but I’m glad I did.

  9. Such a sad story. It’s so hard ot see our loved ones “disappear” in that way.

    I’m sorry you lost such a wonderful person in your life to such a debiltating mental illness

  10. This is an amazing story – I feel for you to have lost someone in this way. I remember my Aja (Grandfather) who I was very close to didn’t remember me for years before he passed away – he got Alzheimer’s in his late 90s and from that moment on he just went downhill. He also fought with the nurses in the nursing home we had to eventually put him in – he thought he was home and wanted to go to his fields (he was a farmer). He even pushed a nurse down the stairs one time! Thank God she was fine.

    It’s hard to see the one you love and know become a shell….but it’s life I guess and it goes on. Your MIL is happy now.

    • Thank you so much. This was not the story I had in mind when I received my topic.

      It is difficult to lose someone in this way – whether it’s dementia, Alzheimer’s or a brain injury, you expect the person to “be there.” Only they are not.

      This was especially hard on my FIL – my in-laws had been married for over 65 years.

      I’m glad they are together now and at peace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s