The Troubled Brain

THE TROUBLED BRAIN – Sifting through the Ashes of Alzheimer’s

Today, in The Troubled Brain, I can finally say, I remember some things during nearly three-and-a-half months when my brain blocked out what happened after Mom died. They lump this phenomenon into PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Also, instead of writing it prose-style, I listed it in bullet-point-style because that’s the way it came to me, early, early this morning after dreaming of Mom, when she visited me, when she told me, “Don’t hurt him.” (A story I’ll tell someday but not now).

The Troubled Brain

So, here’s the list of things that happened, things I did after 12/26/2016. As you can see, I titled the list.


  1. Mary U. came one last time to help me clean and collected all of mom’s stuff out of her bathroom and put it into a box that she stowed away in the closet
  2. After that, I went through mom’s room deep-cleaning
  3. Cleaned out her drawers & clothes closet
  4. Put all her clothing in black landscape bags and took to mom’s old house (Mary helped me put them into my car)
  5. Bob helped me get some big things out, like her bed, we threw away the mattress, left it by the dumpster
  6. Threw her pillows into the dumpster along with her area rugs
  7. Put the bedframe out for “free” by the side of the road
  8. Called Lincare to come pick up her oxygen supplies (I am still finding parts to the tanks and the keys)
  9. Hid or got rid of all the hospital equipment we had purchased over the 1.5 years mom was with us:
    1. the portable potty I put in mom’s old house
    2. returned the bed rails, the transport chair, and the walker I borrowed from SJ Hospice
    3. put out the hospital bed tray for free by the side of the road
  10. After cleaning I gathered her legal, medical, and social security documents together and called everyone in one day so that I wouldn’t have to deal with it again, but I did have to deal with a few straggling details
  11. I went to Carol’s and unloaded some pretty intimate things with her
  12. Called the lawyer to help me with things I didn’t know what to do with (I am still not done with everything about her estate)
  13. I bought a new futon sofa and area rug
  14. Didn’t plan a service right away—I just couldn’t manage to do that so I waited to have her service on her birthday in May.
    1. I called St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix and tried to arrange to have a service there but it became this monolithic chore—too many details, to many parts and I bagged the idea of interring Mom’s remains—too much money for Lizz and Tim to split with us.
  15. I did regular thing too, like feed, water, and let out the dogs, cats, and birds; oh, and the raccoons
  16. I do remember I took extra joy with the deer—watching and feeding them
  17. I alienated family members (Lizz, Denielle, and Ashley) by sending everyone an email saying they were no longer welcome at our house
  18. I screamed and yelled at Bob nearly every day, I cried every day but I can’t remember the tears only the yelling at Bob—the anger.
  19. I do remember whenever I had to drive somewhere crying in my car, just long enough so that I wouldn’t be crying when I got out of my car. The car ride to town is seven minutes so my cries were around five minutes.
  20. I couldn’t go to church until April and then only attended sporadically


Nearly a year later, I went to Mom’s and actually cleaned her home. Lizz and Tim had been up in June following Mom’s death to collect some things Mom had wanted them to have as dictated in her cryptic will. Her house would go to me and Bob. We had many discussions about what to do–to sell, to rent, to transform.

Finally, after knowing my heart would break if we sold it, I told Bob that I had to keep it. That I would fix it up and use it as my studio and when people came to stay, they could stay there.

But it took me until November 2017 to clean her place. And, no, I haven’t quite made the transition to the studio. But this summer presses me to do so. Lizz and Tim are coming up with our cousin and they will need more room than we have at the house. We will too. As I think about readying it for other occupants, myself included, my heart is overcome with sadness. Final steps bring combating thoughts. I’m happy family will have room to breathe while on vacation but no one but Mom belongs there. And she’s gone.

Thank you for reading another installment of The Troubled Brain. I hope you will check out the posts of when Mom was alive and we were caring for her. You’ll find twenty-five posts entitled The Dementia Chronicles archived in my blog.

Until next time, see you on the flip-flop. ~Susan.

Maybe you’ll enjoy a novel I wrote quite a while ago about a daughter whose mother was dying of COPD entitled, The Last Maharajan. This book was renamed and repackaged from its original title, Drowning. I love this new cover of The Last Maharajan.

Oh, and Drowning won the category for family drama in the 2011 Forward National Literature Award. It was also a #1 Amazon bestseller for several months during 2012.

The Troubled Brain

Category award winner for family drama


  1. Alexander on June 17, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Thank you again. Our family has a member with mental illness, and things we have been through, and will go through are so overwhelming. It’s been a struggle but we love him.

    • Susan Wingate on June 17, 2018 at 12:13 pm

      Hello Alexander,
      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. On our travels yesterday, visited a family member who is in the throes of early onset dementia from oxygen deprivation because of heart problems. We love him too. He’s having issues with small things right now. But once this horrid disease amps up, it’s like a dirty snowball rolling down a hill. You’re doing all you can… loving him. That’s all any of us can do. God bless you all.

Leave a Comment