Everything went smoothly at the airport on the day of my mother’s arrival and before long we were cruising towards Asheville, enjoying the beautiful scenery along the way. About halfway home the conversation shifted and my mother began telling me a story about my father that I knew for a fact had never happened. Rather than interrupting her or questioning the validity of her story, I just listened as my mind scrabbled to make sense out of what I was hearing. We finally arrived home and the distractions of other responsibilities eclipsed my earlier concern.
Over the next few weeks my mother purchased a home and then returned to South Florida to pack up her belongings. There were moments during those weeks that were puzzling, but the incidents were minor so I continued to prepare for her move.
About a month later she arrived back in Asheville and began her new life. My mother never drove a car even when I was a child, so she was totally dependent on me for her transportation. We now spent lots of time together, and it didn’t take long to notice that something wasn’t right. Sometimes she would zone out and stare blankly out the car window. Other times she would forget important dates or confuse a mail advertisement for a bill.
Then one day she called me to report that someone had stole her purse. Brian and I called the police and met them at her home. After hours of trying to make sense out of her story, the police left and we stood in the doorway ready to pull our hair out. This led to a search of her house to see if she had possibly misplaced it. We didn’t find the purse that evening, but we did find paperwork that indicated she had lent over $100,000 to a man we knew to be untrustworthy.
The next day the story changed, and now I was the one that had taken her purse. Since I had no knowledge of what was ailing my mother, the accusation wounded me deeply. At first, I attempted to reason with her but that only seemed to exacerbate the problem, so I called my older brother for counsel and comfort, two things I desperately needed. Although we didn’t act immediately, it wasn’t long before we had no choice but to do so.
A few months after the purse incident (which we found hidden in her night stand) accusations of one kind or another became more prevalent. Then her neighbors began calling me to report “peculiar” behavior. My brother and I decided the time had come for Mom to be examined by a physician.