Alzheimer’s… is it the end of the person who has it? Just like the delicate ‘forget me not’ flower so is this delicate disease…was published in the focus 50 magazine in May 2015!
A Mother/Daughter Journey….
‘Oh poor Rita Hayworth, she has Alzheimer’s, you know. If I ever was diagnosed with that, I’d kill myself.’ ‘Oh Mom, I don’t think you will ever get that, besides that’s an old person’s disease’.
‘Promise me you will never put me in a home.’ ‘I promise Mom.’
Eventually, my words to Mom would come back to haunt me.
It’s difficult to say the exact moment I noticed a change in Mom, but over time it became evident there was problem. The misplacing of keys, non-existent hygiene, loss of words, angry outbursts, constant confusion, lack of sleep, repetitive motions, forgetting phone numbers, and her ‘fear’ of being alone.
Diagnosis: Early on-set Alzheimer’s disease.
My feelings of denial (she was fine sometimes and she was only 63 years old), anger (directed at her ‘she should know better’, ‘she forced me to put my life/career on hold’, at family who vanished when I needed help, at the doctors who couldn’t help her), guilt (for arguing with her, lack of patience, and inevitably placing her in LTC), remorse (apologizing after the fact), depression (too many tears from her and myself), exhaustion (primary caregiving, her disease), hit me at varying times without warning over the 10 years WE suffered with Alzheimer’s.
Mom’s disease turned into our disease and we battled it together. Through the ups and downs and laughs and tears, we formed a new intimate relationship. The closeness we shared might never have been possible without the ‘disease’. We spent more hours together, laughing, holding hands, and hugging. As time went by, the anger we both experienced slowly disappeared and morphed into a closer mother/ daughter relationship that I would never have imagined. Speech had eluded Mom in her remaining years, but every now and then she would say aloud, ‘I love you’. Maybe Alzheimer’s had taken so much from Mom, but her true essence still remained until the very end. Her inner spark and reactions to love never truly left; it just went to sleep at times.
It may sound absurd, but in the end, ‘Alzheimer’s’ taught me the beauty of a rare and unique love. Even to this day, I would trade anything in the world to have Mom back, Alzheimer’s and all.
“Thanks Mom, through all the ups and downs, which we had many, you completely changed my life in a positive and meaningful light, while giving me an understanding of what ‘love’ truly means. I love and miss you and will always remember”.