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The Kate Mulgrew Interview (Page 2 of 4)
An Interview with Kate Mulgrew
To understand that they
must take care of themselves. To
understand how appreciated and important
they are. I think they just do not
get it because nobody tells them.
A lot of them are treated like
indentured servants and it is just
absolute nonsense. Iíd like
somebody else to try it. I did it
and failed, but I watched my motherís
caregiver with absolute amazement.
These caregivers are extraordinary.
It is a great gift.
You talk about your motherís caregiver,
and how she made even the rituals
special. What did you mean by
Everything she did was excellent.
Everything was beautiful. It was
not just an egg. It was an egg
with a flower in a cup on a perfect
doily with a linen napkin. It was
a crystal glass. It was bubble
baths. In the distant recesses of
what was left of her brain, my mother
responded to that. I think if you
add this note of grace, the burden will
be lightened. Caregiving is not fun; but
I think if you say to yourself, I am
going to do this with the hands of an
artist, you lift it all up.
Did you learn new ways to communicate
with your mom once Alzheimerís disease
started progressing; different ways of
reaching her, talking and sharing with
her, and making her feel better?
Well, of course, you do
that for as long as you can. A lot
of it is instinctive, right? It is
the same language we communicated with
when I could not speak, when I was a
little, tiny baby and she was the
mother. So, all of this is very
primitive. It comes back when she
is relegated to that position, and then
you just go to that very fundamental
place. But in the end, when there was
absolutely no cognitive, I would just
stare at her and hold her. I
touched her, and I could see the level
of isolation; that is the closest word.
I agree with it. I think love is
the last thing that goes. Touch; people
always need to be touched and held. When
my mom would walk into the room, my
grandfather, who was pretty much at the
end stage of Alzheimerís, would smile.
So these are things we cannot ignore.
You talked earlier about getting
families together, the brothers, the
sisters; not just having one person be
tag, you are it, the caregiver. Do
you have any advice on that?
Right. Well, there
is a reason why it usually falls to the
oldest daughter. She understands
this kind of service. She is not
afraid of it and she accepts it, having
been the surrogate mother herself; but
she will get tired very quickly. I
think the group to appeal to are the
men. This is a group that needs to
be educated. There are exceptions,
of course, but most men are problem
solvers and they think that they can
solve it. They cannot. They
have to accept it.