Thursday, April 28, 2011

Coney Island


My brother sent me an email with a video(You Tube)of Coney Island that I just watched.  Gil my brother ,said that he showed it to my mom today on his weekly visit to her.  Gil wrote that mom seemd to show little reaction to seeing it. Coney Island was where she grew up.  A place that she enjoyed with it's boardwalk,ocean and its fame, for being one of the largest amusement parks.

This sadden me greatly that my mom's childhood ( 1930's-40's) seems to have been wiped away. So sad not to be able to remember her youth, her parents, her brother ,her friends, relatives and most of all my dad , her husband of over 4o years.

Yes, I know that there are small glimpses of her memory that pop up for a few moments from time to time. Only to disappear a few seconds later, leaving her with a mind that becomes like a blank canvas. Or maybe it is just too painful for her, to show any emotion. Most of her friends, her parents and her younger brother are all gone. Maybe mom chooses not to remember. Maybe those happy moments have disappeared because realzing what, and who is left, of her past, is just to painful.

Today on the phone my mom asked me when I could come and visit her. I said "mom I'll see you in a few weeks"(which is not true)since I was just there several weeks ago. Mom said that she remembered although I'm not certain that she did. I expalin to her that I live far away and that I need to get on a plane to come and visit her. I express to her that if we lived near each other then I could drive to see her several times a week. Mom answered, "I understand". I then asked her if she would like to move near me and she laughed and answered that she cannot  move.  That became the end of that conversation, and as I recall  it , this evening, I get a pang in my heart and feel my eyes swelling up with tears.

How much "good" time do I have left with my mom, and how long will she know who I am ? New York and Florida are too many miles apart ! Only, if we could live closer.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Mom's Darkest Secret

After I was moved out of the house and was then married to my first husband, I remember if I did not call my parents/mom at least one time a week I would hear from them and my mom would always say “are you okay?  I was worried that I did not hear from you.” I believe that at this time I was distancing myself from her, although I remember that we did get along.

 Several years later in 1985 my parents moved from Long Island to Florida.  I was then remarried and I had a “nice “relationship with my mom.  In 1987 I became pregnant and gave birth in November to a beautiful son, who we named Logan.

At this time my mom and I had to be close and open with each other. It was the early 1980’s (before they moved to Florida) and I remember being in a coffee shop with Bert, my husband and my parents.  I shared with my parents that Bert and I were considering not to have the baby, since I was pregnant.  I said that Bert & I felt we were not ready, and could not afford to have a child.  I will never forget this when my mom looked at me and replied “don’t do it you’ll be sorry. I had an abortion when daddy and I were first married for the same reason and I was always sorry about it”.  I was totally touched and shocked about what she had just shared.  I questioned her because when she had an abortion it was illegal, and it had to be a very frightening experience.  My mom had to be quite young since she gave birth to my brother when she was a little older than 18 years old.  I remember being so touched that she would be willing to share such a deep dark secret with both of us, and thinking that this was to perhaps avoid me from ever having any regrets.  

Just as I was so touched, Logan our son knows that we chose not to have that baby, who he says would have been his sister or brother.  I have explained to him that maybe he wouldn’t have been born if daddy & I would have had that baby.  Does Logan hold this against me/us?  He doesn’t say so, yet may never know.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Boundaries, No Borders

I just saw a post on Facebook/Alzehimer's Page in French that I could not read. It hit me that Alzheimer's has no boundaries, no country,no nationality that it would not touch. The whole world is not safe from Alzheimer's. We all need to get involved.

Lisa HirschAlzheimer's Association
I just saw a post in French that I could not read. It hit me that Alzheimer's has no boundaries, no country, no nationality that it would not touch. The whole wide world is not safe from Alzheimer's.We all need to get invovled.
Adrien Cri..
14 hours ago · i'm french. my grand mother has alzheimer. it's very true that the disease knows no boundaries. the post you've read is about an ad contest i was engaged in with a friend. goal was : shatter the misconceptions concerning alzheimer... we tri...ed to focus on isolation, loneliness and distress more than on memory loss. our main catchphrase is (if i can translate it well) : To be forgotten is more painful than to forget. hope you like it.See More

    • Lisa Hirsch Merci beaucoup. Love to read the translation.
      15 minutes ago ·

Monday, April 25, 2011

"You're Crazy"

I remember whenever my mom came to visit from Florida for one to two weeks that I was excited that she was coming, and then a few days later I couldn’t wait till she left.  After she was here for a few days we would start again not to get along.  My husband Bert recalls some of the “ugly” fights we always had.  The day before she was about to leave she would start a fight with me and then say “I’m never coming to visit again, you’re crazy” and I would fight back with her, unable to keep things under control.  I later behind closed doors in my bedroom I would complain about my mom to my husband and tell him, “good, she’s not coming back and I don’t want her coming here either.   I can’t stand her” and every year she would come back and, as history repeats itself, so did we. This became a pattern that we could not break.

Why did this drama go on, and why did we both seem to want it?  What were we possibly getting out of it?  If my mom did not get sick with Alzheimer’s, would I have ever had the chance to get close to her again, and even more feel such a strong love and bond with her.

FACT- Alzheimer's  is the Sixth leading cause of Death in the United States.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is it Insecurities or Being a Teenager ?

 I wonder how many of us grew up not liking the names that we we’re given?  Yes, I was one of them.  I was named Elissa.  I remember my teachers always mispronounced my name, the first day of school, as they did their roll calls.  As I got older and I entered junior high school (now living in Great Neck, Long Island) I signed in as Lisa, a name I really, really liked.  I’ve never changed my name officially.  Elissa still appears on my driver’s license and passport, so in some ways I’m still attached (or stuck) to my name.  It all depends on how one looks at it.

 With grown up “securities”, I now see it all so different.  Why did I sweat the small stuff?  Just being a teenager, I guess is not always easy.  Yet at least, I ended up with a name that I liked.

 The next problem was growing up with curly, frizzy hair.  This was definitely the bigger of the two.  As I mentioned before this was not” in” and although, I today see some curly hair I like (not mine), I now have it professionally straightened.   I believe in my heart that my life would have been different, if I would have been born with beautiful straight shiny hair.  It was the sixties, the time of “Hair “the show, the music, the movie. Mod Squad starring Peggy Lipton, Peyton Place with Mia Farrow was what was true of the times.  If I get to choose in my next life I definitely want to be born with straight hair and while I asking for it being 5’7” wouldn’t be bad either.

Growing up for me was a difficult time; my insecurities certainly outweighed my securities.  Could I be the only one in my generation to have felt like that?  Or could I have been filled with so many more insecurities?  Did it come from growing up in a town that somehow I did not feel that I belonged?  Could it have been the fault of my mother?

 I know differently now. I do believe that a parent does try to do the very best for their child and to build a strong base for one to grow in.  I know in my heart that I tried very hard to do that for Logan.  I now just have to hope that Logan believes that also. 

 I ask, was it just being insecure or was it those teenage years? Was it me fighting a relationship with my mom or was it something to do with “Freud “and toilet training, so to speak?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Logan & Me

 Logan is now 23 years old and has an apartment that he shares with three friends. His friends seem to mean a great deal to him, as does his connection to his family. I would say that Logan has a strength and warmness about himself and most of all he is happy.


I grew up in garden apartments in Bayside, New York.  We recently drove by them when we were on our way to visit some family.  I got out of my car with my son Logan to show him where I lived until I was 11 years old.  I pointed out to him the playground I use to play in and the storage room where I kept my bike. I showed him the front and back entrance to our apartment and reminisced with him about how I walked to school, and how I ran to my dad when he returned home from work. I could secretly hear my mom calling me to come and get a snack in the late afternoon.  My memories of growing up here are filled with much warmth.  Sadly enough I tried to share this with, my mom the next day who said that she could not remember living there.  We moved there in 1949 a few months after I was born and this was my parents first home, which they shared with their two children. It seems so strange that my mom has no recollection of this, or honestly almost everything has disappeared from her mind.

Logan is an only child. I gave birth to Logan when I was in my mid 30’s and never had another child. One day when Logan was around seven years old he asked me if he could have a brother or sister(he didn’t seem to really care which one). I spoke to my husband and we took Logan to get his very own Yorkshire Terrier.  Our home was then filled with three Yorkies and I felt that Logan would not have to deal with sibling rivalry. Perhaps if I was younger I might have loved to have one to two more children.

If you ask Logan he probably feels different about this. Hopefully he will not hold this against me as he too looks back at his childhood.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mom ,Dad & Me


As a child I do not remember getting upset with my dad, only with my mom.  My mom seemed to be the one who made alot of the decisions. I remember that when my dad would come home from work my mom would tell him that I had opened a “fresh” mouth to her.  My dad would then take me up to my room, to either give me a spanking or in some cases, to say “don’t tell your mother that I ‘m not punishing you, or she’ll get upset with me”.  I think he did this because, when and if he hit me, I would not speak to him.  My dad would really get upset about that and he would immediately apologize to me.  Now may I ask, how is that for a double message or meaning?  Did I have my dad “wrapped” as a matter of speaking around my finger?  My mom who both my brother and I were so sure was the “boss” in the family, found out quite differently after our dad passed away.  My dad who died in 1995, left my mom only six thousand dollars in an insurance policy .  If she was truly the “boss” I’m sure the life insurance would have been sufficiently more.  Thankfully when he passed away my brother and I were already grown and out of the house or life for mom would have been financially quite difficult.  So today, unfortunately this has been a factor on getting my mom more home care with her limited funds.

The health care system seems to be troublesome.  The little money she has is too much money for Medicaid and/or Medicare. The system from how I understand it does not pay for any home care unless you are totally disabled and not able to “function” at all on your own.

 I often wonder and ask myself this question:
Was my dad always so busy spoiling me that my mom went the opposite way?  Was she “jealous” of our daddy’s little girl relationship, that in some ways she resented me?  I will never know the answer, yet in my heart I do believe that this had some truth to it.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Hero


Mom seems to be thankful and happy about all that she has, never uttering a sound of complaint. And this is coming from a lady who is “some how” suffering with this disease or maybe not. I ask her if she is healthy and she answers that she is. I ask her if she is upset that she cannot remember something and she answers, “No because if it were important I would remember it”. I’ve asked this question many times to myself.  Is the world the Alzheimer patient lives in (since that person who is stricken with this disease may not be able to tell us) are they suffering or is it only the family?

Besides me wanting to share and shout to the world about my fabulous mom who I never thought I had, (wishing for someone else’s mom) I also want to share with everyone that I am not for one second trying to take away how traumatizing this disease is. Although there are different stages of this disease, my mom’s story is one to be celebrated and cherished for me, as for now. My heart reaches out to all the other children (and grandchildren) out there who also have a parent or grandparent diagnosed with this disease.

My mom has been suffering for several years now and fortunately I do not think that she has slipped too much, backwards into the black. After I speak with her I get this awe of her and just want to shout to the world how simply wonderful, inspiring and uplifting my mom has become to me. Mom I love you so much and I am so happy that you are my mom.

My new mom, or perhaps the mom I never new or never let in, has become my hero. Today I would never ever trade her, for all the other moms that I had once hoped for. Do you think my mom ever thought of trading me in for a daughter that might have been sweeter, kinder and more caring of her? I too am a mom now, certainly not perfect, and hopefully doing my best for my son Logan. I truly hope that he is happy with the mom that he was born with.

Funnier than Milton Berle

Since my return from my mom’s house, in Florida, I find that during the night my mind drifts to wondering how she is doing. I think of her being all alone and know how very much I miss her. I feel heaviness in my heart and wish that I could be near her. In the mornings I call her and I am so happy that she is sounding joyous and alive. I cannot help this feeling of just wanting to take her in my arms and tell her that everything will be okay. And so our conversations continue:


 I explain to mom that I am going to be walking to my Pilates class, and she asks me how far away it is. I explain where I live, and where I am headed, and Ruthie starts to count out loud how many blocks I will be walking.  I ask my mom if she just used her fingers & toes to count and she replies “are you kidding, you are funnier than Milton Berle” and we both laugh .We throw kisses, and at the very same time, we both say that we love each other. My mom then replies,” that means good luck that we just said the same exact thing at the same exact time”. I tell mom that I will speak to her later, and as we hang up I have a big smile glued to my face. My mom, funny, sweet and yes you know by now, my hero.

FACT- 5.4 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer's. Please take the time to help Spread Awareness.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Mom the Sweetheart-Coming & Going

Whlie I waited to board the plane to visit mom I wrote:

Sitting at the airport I took notice of how I was feeling. My neck felt tight and my eye lids felt heavy. I wasn't feeling excited that I was going to see mom . I think I was feeling more stressed for the unknown. What might I find? What condition would my mom be in and how would she look ?

Are my trips to see my mom, putting me into more reality ,of what is happening to her. My phone calls everyday are a more joyous occassion. My heart now seems to feel quite heavy, filled with much sadness.

An older couple just got up to board the plane. Is it also the thought of getting older ? I'm certainly heading in that direction. How many good years do I and my husband have left? What does our lives have in store for us ?

I normally do not walk around thinking about this, yet as I sit here waiting to board the plane these are my thoughts. It is now time to lighten up .

HOMEWARD BOUND- waiting to board the plane to go back home

Wow, what am I feeling? What am I thinking? I would definately describe mom as doing rather well. She looked wonderful and she seemed to be very much "with it", sharp and alert. She certainly remained in first place as the spelling queen of Florida.

It was her confusion, at where was her bathroom, should she get dressed, where were her clothes, should she brush her hair, her teeth and never flushing a toilet that you would be able to see the effects of the Alzheimer's disease. Her fear of going out,and always having to hold my hand. She is in some ways, like a child, asking me what to do and how to do it. This part of her ,I find very touching and loved when she asked me to please hold her hand.

The other side of this, is my mom who is strong, feisty,sharp and funny. It's amazing to see the two different parts of her.

Leaving today was both difficult and a little emotional . I should say, probably for my mom ,also. I asked her caregiver to please come 1/2 hour before I was going to leave. I find that my mom gets upset, and I think it is better that Elaine is able to spend several hours with her after I depart.

My mom seemed to follow me around ,no matter where I went in her apartment. She could not understand why I would not be sleeping over again tonight. Ruthie wanted to know if I was coming back tomorrow ,and when I told her, that I would be back in New York, she said "isn't that where I live"?

I tried again to speak about her moving closer to me, and this time she said nothing. Although she did express that she would be all alone again ,and with that, she broke my heart.She then asked me if I could call later and I said that I would call her tomorrow. We kissed and she remained seated in her recliner chair next to Elaine looking  so sad and lost.

It's not easy watching your parents, perhaps struggle, with whatever years may remain for them. With that thought it had me wonder again about my future. What may lie ahead. As my mom would sing to me "whatever will be will be our futures not ours to see, que sera , sera . My mom remains my hero today and forever.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Visiting Mom

I am now in Florida visiting my mom. Today is my second day and yesterday seemed to be a very good day for her. When I arrived I saw how wonderful she looked. I know that her caretaker Elaine is taking such good care of her.We are truly fortunate to have found Elaine.

My brother and I shared in mom's delight and are our hearts stayed light. Hopefully, today my mom will have another good day. The video that I posted below, explains much about Alzheimer's.Please help me spread awareness and thank you for following along with my blog which I believe is uplifting.

It's a true love story between myself & my mom whose strength and courage has inspired me so. My mom is my hero !

What is Alzheimer's disease?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Lovey Dovey

I realize what a strong, strong women my mom is. What strength she has. I think that she is so much stronger than me. She is feisty and strong willed.  I now realize, how my mom had always been there for me, even when we I didn’t know it.  What did I miss and what have I learned from her.  I do consider myself a strong lady and have always been extremely attracted, to other strong women. I admire these types of women and have befriended them throughout the years.

 Is this because of my mom?  I never thought of it that way, yet now I do.  I called my mom to share this with her. "Ruthie, I just remembered how strong you are", and my mom says, “Really?  I always thought of myself as just ordinary “.  No mom you are nothing close to being ordinary.

 I continue to share with her about how much I love and admire her. We throw kisses and tell each other that we love each other, and my mom then says” I love you more”.  This time she ads in goodbye my lovely, dovey and we both laugh and hang up.

Tomorrow I will be arriving at my mom’s house, and lucky me, will be able to give her some real kisses.  I can hardly wait.

FACT- Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. We must support this disease and I will do everything I can to help spread awareness about it.  Won't you help.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Two Days til I See Mom

Just think in two days I get to see my mom.  Wow only two days.  It has been  four months exactly, since my last visit to her. I live in new York and Ruthie lives in Florida. I always get so excited to see her and then when I am actually with her, many more feeling come up for me.

For me to be able to deal with everything that I saw happening to my mom ( since she has Alzheimer's )I decided to write about my feelings in a journal.  This is how I began writing a memoir(draft) about my mom, and our new found relationship. As of today I am writing most days in my blog and loving every second of it.

I am still  in such amazement about how much my moms courage and strength has inspired me. If you think about it I have two choices. One would be that I could walk around upset, for all that she has lost, and the other is, that I can hold on to all that she still has left. The biggest one for me is that she still knows who I am.

Some days I find myself telling my mom that I would love to kidnap her. Mom finds this to be quite funny.  This has been for me a great movie title called “How Can I Kidnap My Mom”. I have imagined it to be upbeat movie about an aging women who also has Alzheimer’s .The woman refuses to move near her daughter, and how her daughter and son in law plan a way to kidnap her. They would bring her back to the Big Apple (better known as NYC) to live.

This could be an upbeat, humorous movie that is not depressing, yet quite touching. Not like the one, starring Julie Christie that was wonderful, yet quite upsetting.  A movie that is uplifting and inspiring about an Alzheimer patient.  The movie would be showing her joy, her humor, her wisdom, her strength, her singing, and her dancing. It would be about her “new” relationship with her daughter, her son, her grandson, son in law and caretaker.  A movie that makes one smile, a movie that lifts you up, and touches your heart.

This movie would be dedicated to all the other people who have Alzheimer’s, and all the families who have lost loved ones. Maybe Betty White might like to play, Ruthie, my mom. Who knows maybe one day, this will be a dream come true.