Sunday, July 09, 2006

Are you my mother?

She looked up at me, blue eyes clouded and confused. I couldn't believe this was happening, not yet. She'd only been diagnosed 4 years prior and I had hoped that memories of me, of our relationship would be the last to go, to fade from her mind.

"No momma, I'm your daughter"

"Well, of course you are." Her blue eyes sparkled as she looked at me, she was there, right in the moment. Mom had come back to me.

The first few years of Alzheimer's, for me, were the hardest. Well, that's not true. The first year was pretty easy as my father was still alive and they spent their days together and not a lot was required of me. Then my father's health became worse and we lost him in October of 2000. It was just mom and I. She was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer's in January of 2001. Watching my father die in hospice was a far easier task. He took his last breath and he was gone. Alzheimer's is the death of a soul. Some people argue that point, but that's how I feel. My mother, everything that she was, left me last year. There's a stranger in her bed now, wearing her clothes, sitting in her chair. Alzheimer's is a far more cruel death. That first year after diagnosis there would be days when I questioned the doctor's words. Mom seemed fine most of the time - oh, a few memory lasps, but what elderly person doesn't suffer from that malady? And then, suddenly out of the blue, she wouldn't remember how to start the dryer, her words were wrong - Maloxx for Matlock, for instance - and it soon became evident to me, if not to others, that mom "wasn't right". I think of this as a battle, with Alzheimer's being the Devil. For those first few years we fought triumphantly, keeping him at bay. But in the last few months he's strengthened and we have found ourselves on the losing side. Mom spends most of her days in bed now, confused about even the simplist things like how to stand up. She still knows who I am, but the confusion of our roles comes more often. I know that someday soon she'll look up and I will be her mother.


Anonymous Deb Peterson said...

I think we write about it to try to make the whole experience meaningful for us right now. Watching someone you love disappear is not for the faint of heart. And you've had quite a bit of additional heartbreak over the past few years. I hope that a day will come when you (and I) can make some kind of sense of the suffering. Just remember that you are doing something extraordinary by taking care of your mother.

Sun Jul 09, 01:35:00 PM CDT  

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