Here's what happens when your mom is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. At least if you're me. There's this total scoffing at the doctor's diagnosis. There's the trotting out of a hundred tiny facts your mother remembers even better than you and you're thirty years younger than her. There's the railing at a system of treating the elderly that throws them into categories: one gets dementia, then next Alzheimer's. Next!
Then you notice that she loses a few words here and there. Easy words like the names of her favorite restaurant or the word "checkbook." Then you notice her conversation becomes a little constrained, topic-wise, like she only wants to talk about food, she can talk about it for hours, yet she only says the same thing over and over again - how good it is. You find yourself missing your mother and she's sitting right in front of you.
Then maybe there's an interim event - a fall perhaps, or maybe a car accident, in your case. And then there's no more room for denial. Denial packs a bag and slithers away in the middle of the night. When your mother is recuperating from her injuries, which means she's finally left her convalescing couch, her world becomes constrained. She stopped cooking during her weeks on the couch and now, she tells you, she no longer cooks. Nor your stepfather. Food just magically appears every day and, anyway, they don't eat much. Some rice, some noodles, maybe a piece of challah. And, yes, it's good. Very, very good.
The mother you had - the annoying, argumentative one, the one you used to butt heads with, the one who used to find a way to interject a Holocaust story into every conversation until you were sure you too had lived in the forest running from the Nazis, that mother has been interrupted. And in her place? A different mother. A different kind of mother. A mother and a daughter and a child all at once.