By Lisa Hirsch
DOES MY MOM WITH ALZHEIMER'S KNOW IT'S MOTHERS DAY ?
I'll be off to see my mom on Wednesday for Mother's Day. My flight leaves New York early in the morning. As I prepare myself for my trip I get flashes of all different memories and feelings. What will mom be like this time ? How much has her Alzheimer's caused her to disappear into her world ? Speaking to my mom each day is quite different than living with her. For the most part my conversations on the phone with my mom are great. Then of course there are those other moments. So actually being and living with mom for several days is quite different. My heart misses her and my stomach seems to churn both with excitement and nervousness.
During this week my emotions about my mother ran like a river with many inlets. Today's phone call left me feeling exhilarated, yet during the week after my mom had an episode of incontinence, I fell into an emotion of feeling quite sad and lost. Fortunately she was fine for the rest of the week, as her caregivers realized that they might have overloaded her with too much bran, since she had been constipated.
After that episode I was not able to shake the sadness that I seemed to carry with me for most of the day. I had felt that my mom was no longer whole and had become half a person. How could this be and now where was my mother's journey from Alzheimer's going ? What would be happening next ? I did not understand, and for the rest of the day, I walked around in a haze, with a lump in my throat and a pain in my heart. Each day when I called I was frightful, until I was reassured that my mother was doing just fine.
Today, I had so much joy I wanted to run to a mountain top and spread the words that my mom had just shared with me. She had such a softness and nurturing kindness to her voice. We at first spoke about all the people who she could not remember since most of them had moved away. Mom said that maybe if she was able to see them, then perhaps she would remember them. "Mom, I declared, I hope since I live so far away that you never will forget me". My mom answered with "how could I ever forget you". Then she explained that the most important thing is that we are all well. She continued to say that there was nothing more important than being healthy.
I changed the subject and told her that I would be seeing her in five days as I was coming to celebrate Mother's Day with her. My mom seemed to remember that I had promised to take her for an ice cream sundae. With delight in my voice, and shock that she could remember this, I shouted to her "absolutely". As our phone call was coming to end, my mom then uttered the sound of these words, "do you love me like I love you"? As my heart seemed to break in half, I answered with, "Mom, I love you even more that". She then started to sing the words as we said our goodbyes.
With much love in my heart, I just wanted to place her last words to me and seal them in a bottle for me to open whenever I so desired to. I know that after we hung up, mom does not remember our conversation, nor does she even remember that I will be seeing her in five days. I know that she has no idea that it's Mother's Day. Yet I do, and for me my mom will always be that special mom, that for years before she became ill, I never even knew I had.
I would like to wish all the mom's, a very special Mother's Day.