Thursday, April 16, 2015

THE SOUND OF MUSIC


THE SOUND OF MUSIC

A few weeks ago was the celebration of two holidays-Passover and Easter. My mom has no idea which holiday she once celebrated. She also gets confused with who I am. I can be her wife, her mother, her friend or her daughter. Fortunately I am able to smile and not allow this to upset me for in my heart, I know that whoever I am to her they are all very special people.

The one thing I do struggle with is realizing all the beautiful things in life that mom can no longer enjoy. It's the simple things like feeling the warmth of the sun or the beautiful bright blue skies after a few cloudy rainy days.

I must confess that my heart is sad when I think of all the things mom use to love to do and can no longer appreciate. She used to treasure reading books and going to the theatre. She loved to go to the movies, or visit a museum. She loved to travel or just take a walk on the beach. In her universe these pleasures no longer exist.

Yes, mom does not know the difference; yet I do. She is "locked" within the walls of the nursing home in a world that she is now entrapped in. I question and wonder if this is what being alive is about. Alzheimer's quickly crept into her soul and removed almost all of her life experiences. She is no longer aware of what she is missing; but I am.

Luckily there is an enjoyment left and that is the "sound of music".  I have
personally witnessed this with my mom and others who have dementia. Music brings a wakening and joy to their hearts. You can see this in their faces as they suddenly become more alive.

After returning home today from spending a glorious sun filled day outside, I once again had visions of my mom roaming the halls of the facility she now lives in. My mind traveled back to the thought of her not knowing anything that was going on in the world she once knew. I can only hope that somehow, someway, she is at least still hearing and enjoying the "sounds of music".


 MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love.http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400860930&sr=1-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch
 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A LETTER TO MY MOM



MY LETTER TO MY MOM
(as seen in newly released book " A Letter to My Mom" by Lisa Erspamer)

My Mom My Hero

Mom, as I sit down to write my letter I wonder how I can possibly start to share all my feelings with you. So much has changed since you developed Alzheimer’s 10 years ago. As I gather my thoughts I realize that you will not be able to comprehend most of what I say.

As a teenager I loved you, yet somehow I wanted one of my friend’s mothers to be my mother. Then, after you became ill I fell so deeply in love with you. An unconditional love was born and since then you have inspired me each and every day.

I’m not really sure why my sentiments changed so drastically, I just know that I was given a second chance to feel a deep love and appreciation for you. As I reflect back through these years you have inspired me and have become my hero.

Your humor, your smiles, your sweetness have melted my heart.  In several months you will be turning 90 years “young”. You can still be feisty and, as you run around in your Merry Walker, I wonder what you could possibly be thinking.  Of course I could ask you, yet as silly as that might seem you would not be able to remember anything.

Before entering the nursing home this past August I spoke to you every single day. We ended each call throwing each other our kisses. I have continued to phone the nursing home every day only wanting to hear how you are doing. On occasion I get lucky and am able to hear your sweet voice.

 Most of the time you say hello, and after a minute you just drop the phone. You do not even realize that I called or recognize the sound of my voice. Recently I was able to catch you when you were having a minute of clarity. You sounded free of Alzheimer’s as you shared that you missed me. These words immediately melted my heart. After hanging up the phone I knew that this was a magical moment, an occasion for me to treasure.

Mom, I am also a mother. My son, your only grandchild is 26 years old. You adored him and yet today you no longer remember who he is. There have been times that you think you have seven children and days when you think you have none. As a mother I cannot envision that one day I might also not know that I have a child. 

I find it hard to believe that a disease like this can wipe away your whole world as if it never existed, leaving your mind a blank canvas. Daddy passed away almost twenty years ago and I do not believe that you have much recollection of him. I’m actually happy that he is no longer alive. I cannot imagine the pain he would have endured watching you fade away.

Today, in your world, I would have to help you brush your teeth, comb your hair, eat your food and get dressed. As a child you once did all of this for me, as well as comforting me when I was sick, or perhaps feeling a little blue.  Yet with everything that has changed, at least I know that we still have each other to share our love.

What has changed is that our roles have reversed. Now it is my turn to care for you as you once cared for me. The truth is mom that no matter whatever you can or cannot do, I am still your daughter and you will always be my mother.

Life is strange; for out of you becoming ill I have discovered a whole new world. I was given a second chance to love you unconditionally.  You have opened my heart to such a deep compassionate love. Mom as I end my letter, I just want to share with you, how very much I adore you. I feel honored and I am so proud that you are my mother.

 Your one and only daughter,

Lisa



 MY MOM MY HERO Book - A mother & daughters new found love.http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400860930&sr=1-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch


Thursday, March 26, 2015

MOMENTS TO TREASURE



 MOMENTS TO TREASURE

As I reflect back on the trip that I spent with mom I feel a sense of achievement. Maybe achievement is the incorrect word. It's more like I received a gift to have been able to share and spend so many special moments with her. Mom is quite different now, she has become an innocent sweet child filled with love.

Hearing her call me Lis (short for Lisa) touches me deeply. I now have such compassion for her as she searches all over for her mother. I have often said that as degrading as Alzheimer's disease is, there is also a "hidden silver lining". Mom has traveled back to a time when she felt safe, loved and protected. A place that will always be her home.

It's sweet to hear her speak of her deep love for her parents. She mentions her mother almost every day. When her mom passed away I was quite young. I then was able to witness how much she loved and respected her father. The grandfather I knew was a very special man whom I adored. To honor him I named my son after him.

One day during my visit mom was extremely tired and only wanted to go to sleep. When the aide and I put her down for a nap (hmm, like a baby) she did not want to fall asleep because she was concerned that her mother was waiting for her. I replied "mom it's okay she'll be here when you wake up." Mom whispered just before she closed her eyes "oh okay."

Later that day we spoke about my father which she rarely does. I'm not sure how much she remembers him. I want to believe that there are moments when she does think of him, before they quickly disappear and wash out to sea.

Before mom became ill some of the things she said would bother me. Not anymore, for now I treasure everything she expresses as if she has me in a trance.  I consider myself lucky to be able to smile and appreciate the things she says instead of feeling upset.

Being able to feel this way certainly opens my heart, and gives me much needed space to still be able to share with her whatever time we have left together.


MY MOM MY HERO book is for all the special people in our lives. Over 200 great reviews.

Available on Amazon , Kindle & Audio worldwide.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers-A-daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389797650&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A PANG IN MY HEART


 A PANG IN MY HEART


After a lengthy visit with my mom I still feel a deep pang in my heart that will not easily go away. Not only do I miss her I also find myself thinking about her more often each day. Some of this might be attributed to finding out that someone else dear to my heart (at the age of seventy) also suffers from this disease.

His name is Rabbi Catano and he now lives in a nursing home close to where we live. This past weekend my husband and I went to visit him, which of course, brought up many thoughts and feelings about my own mother. I sometimes feel angry at this disease for it sweeps in without  warning and erases peoples' lives as if they never existed.

During my past visit with mom she spent most of her days speaking of or searching for her own mother. I noticed how our dear friend also repeated over and over about his grandmother and bringing her the newspaper. If I can find any "comfort" with Alzheimer's it would be that I believe that my mom and Rabbi Catano are not in any pain nor suffering.

I am left wondering that no matter how old you are, do you ever stop missing your parents? Could your feelings be wrapped up into your own mortality? My dad passed away twenty years ago and mom is still alive, although there certainly is a large part of her that is no longer here. Do I now in some ways consider myself an orphan?

Isn't a parent supposed to worry about you, think about you and want to take care of you no matter how old you are? What happened to my beliefs of what a parent should be like? Are they now all disguised due to an illness?

One thing that is left and comforts me is the thought that my mother, whether she expresses it or not, would only want wonderful things for me.Whether they are alive or not, or unable to fully express it, I must always remember how much love my dad and my mom had for me. In that way I was blessed my whole life to have parents who really did love me.

 
 
MY MOM MY HERO book is for all the special people in our lives. Over 200 great reviews.

Available on Amazon , Kindle & Audio worldwide.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers-A-daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389797650&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

OUR JOURNEY MOVES ON (Day 7)


OUR JOURNEY MOVES ON (Day 7)

I just finished watching several videos from my visit with mom in January. I start each day watching  them which has now replaced the phone calls we use to share. They leave me feeling warm inside as if I am actually with her. How I love to hear her voice and see her smile.

Spending the last seven days with mom had me see how much more our roles have reversed. Mom has, in many ways, become a child; no longer knowing how to get dressed, brush her teeth, comb her hair or eat her meals.

On most days she does not even realize that I exist. She no longer worries or thinks about me as a mother would. For me I think of her constantly as if I were her mother wondering how she is doing.  Maybe she is feeling lonely, frightened or sad. I yearn to take her in my arms, cuddle her and protect her from the world. I want to reassure her that everything will be okay.

I cannot stop thinking, how much is she still aware of? What does she know or understand? We are now ten years into her Alzheimer's, yet there are parts of her that still are present. Mom can spell and is able to answer us in a quick witty manner. She'll tell me that her eyes are tearing or that her nose is running and ask if I have a tissue. She'll start to sing a song and fill in her own words as if she were a poet.

Then minutes later she'll ask for us to take her to her home. She'll say she wants to go home yet never questions where she is. She passes by others in the nursing home who are sitting in their wheelchairs as if they do not exist. Once is a while she says hello never questioning us who they are.

I wonder, where does she think she is? She has been here for 1 1/2 years. She is confused each day not knowing if I am her daughter or her friend. I've been married for 34 years and each day she wants to know who this man is.

I question why some people succumb to this disease and why mom in some ways after all these years still is "present". I ask, is she one of the luckier ones? Perhaps yes, although we as caregivers seem to suffer more as we watch our love ones fade away.

So mom, whether I'm walking beside you or miles away, I cannot stop my heart from missing you in more ways than one. I wish that you could truly understand this unconditional love that I now have for you . Only if you could!


MY MOM MY HERO book is for all the special Mom's in your lives. Over 200 great reviews.

Available on Amazon , Kindle & Audio worldwide.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers-A-daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389797650&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Friday, February 27, 2015

OUR JOURNEY CONTINUES( Day 4)


 OUR JOURNEY CONTINUES (Day 4)


I've been back in New York now for four weeks. While visiting mom I was sure to have paper and pen with me so I would be able to write down what I was feeling. There were days when I wrote nothing and days when my thoughts and emotions just overflowed as I scribbled away.

Today is the first day that I pulled out my notes, and for the next month or two, I will be documenting in sequence what I was feeling.

Day 4: I awoke today feeling good about mom yet when I reached the nursing home I started to feel a little queasy. After entering the facility and signing in, my husband and I took the elevator to the second floor.

It took a while to find mom, as usual, she was roaming the halls in her Merry Walker. Mom was clearly not having a great day. She appeared to be tired and most of what she had to say was about going home.

I heard mom "crying out" as if she hoped that we could help her. "Take me home my mother is waiting for me,"she pleaded . I need to go home and take care of my children." This was something that mom spoke about on many days.

Since this was in the beginning of our visits it really did upset me. I quickly learned to make the best of it and play along with her. On other visits when she mentioned that her mom was looking for her and I would say "Mom I spoke to your mom and she is okay." Mom would then look at me and with surprise in her voice, "you spoke to my mom?" "Yes mom, I did."

 I realized now why my mom never stops roaming the halls. She has made comments that she is almost home, and with each corner that she turns she seems to think that she'll find it. Her eyes wander into the different rooms as she keeps searching.

At these moments, when she is looking for her children, her memory takes her back to when my brother and I were infants. She cannot visualize us as grownups. When I share with her that I am her daughter she looks confused while at other times her face lights up and quickly tells me that she loves me.

I try not to focus on the sadness of this disease Most of the time I am able to stay in the moment and remain grateful that mom can still walk and talk. So for now I choose to be thankful for each day that we can still share together.


 
MY MOM MY HERO book is for all the special Mom's in your lives. Over 200 great reviews.

Available on Amazon , Kindle & Audio worldwide.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers-A-daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389797650&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

Sunday, February 22, 2015

SHE MAKE ME SMILE, SHE MAKES ME LAUGH


SHE MAKES ME SMILE, SHE MAKES ME LAUGH.....

Mom knows how to melt my heart without even trying. It was not always like this, yet for the last ten years my unconditional love for her has grown to levels that I cannot explain. The most amazing thing is that I was given a second chance to love her completely.

Yes, she was always my mother, and I always loved her. I was just not in touch with how deeply I cared. It took her getting Alzheimer's for me to fall madly and completely in "awe" of her.

For four weeks my husband and I spent every day visiting mom in her nursing home. Since I live in New York my visits have consisted of just a couple of days every few months. Although each  December my husband and I would visit for a week this trip was different since we were able to spend some precious and meaningful time with her.

Since my return I miss mom even more and on most days I like to play some of the videos that I recorded. They keep me feeling like I am still with her. Just sending my love to her through the nurses is not nearly enough anymore.

These videos have me connected to her in a very different way. Being a long distant caregiver can be difficult. I have learned to accept the distance between us yet it does not make any of this easier.

We've been home for three weeks now and my brother just sent me a special message. He said "mom has been in really good moods recently and it is either from your visits or from her finally settling in (August was one year since mom entered the nursing home) or maybe both."

When I shared this with my husband we both smiled and said the same thing. We were sure that we made a difference in mom's life, and what is more amazing is that she did the same thing for us.

We both seem to feel a deeper inner peace, for me my heart has been glowing, not only for my mom, but also for the man I married thirty four years ago.

Please watch this precious and touching video. It is only 3 1/2 minutes long . I promise that it is both uplifting, inspiring and filled with love.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_TT_cOp3Hs&feature=youtu.be

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

MOM MY SWEET VALENTINE

 


 MOM MY SWEET VALENTINE

I've been back for two weeks now and as each day goes by the distance that lies between mom and I becomes greater. I am still feeling the joys of the "miraculous" time that I was able to spend with her, yet I really do miss her, and wish that I did not live so far away.

In some ways I was happier when I was able to see her each day. My brother calls once a week when he visits so mom and I can connect. With these calls I do get to hear her sing songs and tell me that she loves me. Still the presence of not being able to be with her leaves me feeling some sadness.

I often wonder how she is really doing. The nurses always reassure me that she is okay. Yet when I was with her I was able to be aware if anything was troubling her. It also was thrilling to experience the happiness we added to her day.

February 14th is Valentine's Day, a time when we tell someone how much we love them. Yes, my husband is my special Valentine, but he shares this day with someone else.

My other sweetheart that I cannot deny, is my mother. In many ways our roles have reversed yet I cannot forget all that she has given me.

So I'd like to dedicate this to My Valentine, My Mom:

Mom you were the one who brought me into this world and showed me the difference between right and wrong.

You were the one I leaned upon as you protected me.

When I was feeling sad you somehow brightened my day.

You were the one who cared for me and put up with my childish ways.

You were my best friend, my heart and soul even when I did not know.

You were one of my biggest fans and believed in me as I was finding my way.

When I was feeling insecure you were the one who taught me to believe in myself.

 And no matter whether you know my name or who I am, you will always be my mother.

Mom, I love and cherish you forever. You are truly my sweet Valentine.


 
MY MOM MY HERO is for all the special Mom's in your lives. Over 200 great reviews.

Available on Amazon & Kindle & Audio worldwide.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers-A-daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389797650&sr=8-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

OUR "MAGICAL JOURNEY" RIDE

 

OUR "MAGICAL JOURNEY" RIDE

I have been trying to decide what I would like to share with you about my four week visit with my mom. I plan other blog entries about my visit, but thought my first entry should be about how I am feeling right now.

My spirit is feeling so light with an inner happiness I find hard to explain. I notice how upbeat I feel accompanied by a joyous glow. Being able to spend almost every day visiting mom was uplifting.

This was a trip that I planned  a year ago not knowing how much longer mom would be able to communicate with me. For the very first time (in the ten years that mom has Alzheimer's) I was not a long distant caregiver. I became her "daily"caregiver and, as if mom had a sixth sense, each day that I visited her, she became more and more responsive.

She appeared elated each day that my husband and I called her name as we found her wandering the hallways in her Merry Walker. I was so lucky to have my best friend, my husband, accompany me on every visit. Mom was so enamored with him, although she could not understand nor remember that he was her son- in- law for the last thirty-five years.

The two questions that everyone has asked of me since I returned home is "How is your mom doing?" and "Does your mom know you"? My answers have always been, " Mom is doing great and although she may not always say that I am her daughter I know that she knows who I am." Even when she did not seem to distinguish me, she then would suddenly call out my name Lees(short for Lisa) to come walk with her.

The other day my brother went to see her. He called me( back in NYC) and mom sounded so alive as she kept singing every song in the universe and telling me that she loved me. The very last thing mom said to me before we hung up the phone was "I never want anything to happen to you and I only want you to be happy. I love you and I will always be your mother."

My heart immediately skipped a beat and I knew how much our trip actually meant to her. I know that it really touched her and that my husband and I made a difference in her life.

I will never forget the time that I was able to spend with her and I will cherish it forever.For all of us this was truly "our magical journey ride", one that we all shared.



My book My Mom My Hero is available with over 200 reviews.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400860930&sr=1-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SHARING OUR LOVE


SHARING OUR LOVE


We all have pictures of our families that fill our hearts with joy. Some are taken during special occasions and others are just celebrating being together. As I look at this photo it brings me back to  warm memories of when mom, my son and I were younger, enjoying a beautiful summer day at the lake.

It became a ritual for mom to leave Florida and visit for two weeks each summer. After she became ill the trips became more difficult being away from her own familiar setting.

Who would have imagined that one day mom would never be able to recognize who was in this picture. For her it is not just seeing who we are, it is also "knowing"who we are. Although we are her family she still cannot recognize us. Nor does she have any memories of these visits that she once looked so forward to.

Life certainly can be complicated yet understanding this disease truly amazes me. What makes Alzheimer's so powerful is that week by week it has crept into my mother's brain and removed what was once her life. It has stolen almost all of her memories leaving her with an empty existence.

I have accepted mom's fate and am grateful that most days I am able to appreciate what we still have left. In three weeks I will be visiting and spending one precious month with her. My heart is filled with mixed emotions; excited and nervous all at the very same time.

The clock is ticking and I have no idea how much longer mom will be able to recognize or even speak to me. As of now she is still mobile, yet she is totally dependent on her aides for everything else.

After ten long years of witnessing mom loose her independence, I also know that she certainly is one of the lucky ones. Her younger brother passed away rather quickly from this disease, so out of this I do not take anything for granted.

This trip is so meaningful for it may be my last time to spend some quality time with her before she totally fades away. Each moment, no matter how difficult some may be, I want to cherish whatever smiles, touches and kisses that I can get from her, and to return all the love I feel for her.

Hopefully with each of us spreading awareness about this disease, maybe one day, we will be able to celebrate living in a world free of Alzheimer's.



My Mom My Hero Book has over 180 great reviews. Available on Amazon, Kindle & Audio.

http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400860930&sr=1-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch

 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GRATEFUL & THANKFUL


 

GRATEFUL & THANKFUL

Once again the holiday season is arriving and each year, especially during Thanksgiving, I like to reflect on the year as it comes to an end.

This year was an extremely joyous one for our son Logan became engaged to a very special young lady. My husband and I are doing wonderful and my brother and I continue to grow closer.  Mom turned 90 years old in August and is still able to speak and run around in her Merry Walker.

I posted two pictures (above) for as I reflect I realize how fortunate I was to have two loving and supportive parents. Although my dad passed away 20 years ago I know that I was lucky to have him for so many years.

Mom seems to be happy although most of her life's journey has all but disappeared. Alzheimer's has certainly robbed her of all memories, yet in a positive way it has also removed the negative ones that once caused her pain and heartache.

I'm thankful that my dad is not alive to be experiencing what is happening to her. I am grateful that she is still verbal as she shares words of love accompanied with a smiling face for the nurses; at the place we now call "home".

Her speech is more gibberish yet she still laughs and, at moments, surprises us with a sharp quick answer. Alzheimer's baffles me for somehow in her memory she still can spell and is able to sing the words to many songs.

I do not know how much longer mom will be able to sustain all that she now can do, certainly since she has this disease for over 10 years. So, with each day I remain grateful and thankful that however mom now is, we are still able to share our love with one another.





Over 180 great reviews. Available on Amazon, Kindle & Audio/ACX. MY MOM MY HERO - A mother & daughters new found love.http://www.amazon.com/Mom-Hero-Alzheimers--daughters-bittersweet/dp/0615773982/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400860930&sr=1-1&keywords=lisa+hirsch