Thursday, July 28, 2011



 I will be visiting with my mom real soon.  I am filled with lots of different emotions.  One is being excited, one is being nervous and one is being scared.  Excitement is an easy one not needing any explanation.  Scared and nervous are another story.  What will my mom be like when I’m actually in her home for a few days?  I’m trying not to think about that now and just stay in the moment of excitement.  

My mom’s, conversation with me today on the phone was a little strange, and cute and in some ways and also a little bizarre.  I could tell that my mom was energetic and quite alive from the sound of her voice when she heard it was me on the phone. I reminded her that in 4 -5 days I would be at her home.  This was all new to her as if this was the first time I was telling her about coming to see her.  Mom  said she should write it down so she’ll remember.  She then started to count that 12+12 = 24, then she sang me a song that she made into a poem, and after I asked her to spell a few words, which of course she did as easy as 1, 2,  3. That part of the phone call was great.  Then she proceeded to tell me that she was standing there not dressed in her kitchen, as we had been on the phone for around ten minutes. Mom then said that she wanted to get off the phone and get into bed.  I asked my mom why do you want to get into bed it’s only 10,AM and to that she replied that it’s not that she was going to go to sleep, just that it was time to get into bed.  Okay mom, with no argument from me.  I then asked her if she had eaten breakfast and she said she had no idea, except that she thinks she did because she always eats.  

So these are some of the emotions of why I am nervous and a little scared to see her.  On the phone my mom seems pretty “okay” and I know from my last visit that being around her can bring up other feelings about her illness that I don’t get to see every day.   As of now I just need to be with my excitement of seeing her.

 Today  I received an envelope filled with labels from the Alzheimer Association stating “despite the enormous progress we have made fighting Alzheimer disease over the past 30  years, the fact remains that we and our loved ones remains at risk”.  The Alzheimer Association says that there are over 5 million Americans and their families living with this devastating disease and that by the year 2050 they expect it to grow to 16 million people unless we do something about it.  They are asking for a donation and for me while I write about My Mom My Hero, our journey has begun and it is my vision and passion to tell my mom’s story to the “world “and to  hopefully donate a portion of the proceeds of a  book/ or movie to the Alzheimer Association. This will make my dream become realty.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



Another interesting thought that came to me while we we’re driving from Manhattan to Woodstock,NY was this.  I have heard the expression that youth is wasted on the young.  So here goes my “deep” analogy.

If we can only go back in time and be born old and go the other way.  Our life goes by so quickly and so do we really cherish it as we are living it?  Do we soak up every second of our touching experiences knowing that eventually our parents, aunts and uncles will all be gone?  Do we really cherish everything that happens in our lives, our childhood, of being young, our parents, when they we’re young and how they lived.  We look at pictures in our albums and wonder where all the years have gone.  We say wow, look how young my parents were, or better yet,”oh look how young we were and how young we looked when our children were in just babes ”.  They become just all memories that while we’re going through them they pass by so quickly.  How young we were.

 So if our lives were the reverse could we truly appreciate all the wonderful moments we shared as children, teenagers, and young adults with our children, family and especially our parents?  I somehow want to try and explain or share these thoughts with my son Logan. Will he really get it?  I doubt it, although I will try.   

When you were young and your parents would say something, sometimes we’d look at them crossed eyed, or think in our heads, can they be for real.  This all flashed to me while Little Eva and Jay and the Americans played on the XM satellite radio.  Flashing on memories and times of my life of where I was and what I was doing while these songs were big hits.  I was trying to recall the settings and people who shared these songs and with me.  

My memory is filled up with lovely thoughts, and lovely times, ones I will always like to cherish. If only we could. If only we could always remember!

My mom this last week does not sound like her cheerful self.  She seems to be less “with it”.  Less energetic, less wanting to laugh with me.  Maybe it’s the summer heat or maybe she is starting to go a little deeper into things.  Perhaps there are some changes for her with her Alzheimer’s.  Whatever it is I stay strong and in the moment that this too will pass.  I’m not ready to think of my mom getting worse.  We still have so much love to share and I know that the clock keeps ticking.


Monday, July 25, 2011



I call my mom everyday to say hello and to remind her of who is coming to see her.  On Saturday when I called my mom I found our conversation rather interesting. I usually can tell immediately how my mom is doing as we begin our conversations. I knew that Ruthie was somewhat confused this day.  I first said hello and sang her a small verse of Sugar Pie Honey which she giggled about. My mom then asked me when is her husband coming. I knew she meant my brother and I was certainly not going to cause her any unnecessary pain about my dad passing away many years ago.

My dad actually passed away sixteen years ago. My brother Gil is the main"attraction" for mom as a male figure. Gil sees my mom once a week on Wednesday's. On that day they go out for lunch, food shop & sing songs together from watching You Tube videos, which my mom enjoys so much.

I venture back to her question and this is my response to her. "Mom you mean my brother Gil. He'll be coming on Wednesday and today is Saturday". Ruthie answered "oh yes"(as if to say I meant my son, not husband). Ruthie then counted out loud," Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday". Then she said" he's coming in five days". Yes, mom you got that correct and I think to myself how thankful I am that she still can count. I added in the conversation that she had just seen my brother three days ago.

"Mom today Trudy is coming to visit". Of course mom said "who's Trudy"? I explained that to her that Trudy is Elaine's daughter . Mom asked "who's Elaine" so I told her that Elaine was her friend (caregiver)who comes everyday to visit. " Mom, Trudy is the nice young girl you call Trudy the Beauty, and you always tell me how much you like her.  Mom so who am I, Lisa the what"? Ruthie immediately says you are Lisa the Pisa and we both laugh. "Mom and you are Ruthie the what"? Mom answers "it doesn't  really matter". So I change the subject.

She then said that she had to go to the bathroom. I thought of reminding mom to flush the toilet yet I decided to just let it be. Mom would say anyway, "I always flush the toilet(which is not what happens). There are signs posted by the toilets(Flush Toilet) which mom seems not to notice. So when Trudy arrives at mom's I'm sure that she'll be flushing mom's toilets.

I'm so lucky to be able to still share what seems like these childish conversations with my mom. I really find her so cute and rather refreshing. For me her childlike quality is touching and I treasure that I still have my mom in whatever shape or form  My mom today, is still my hero.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



 My husband Bert since the first day I met him I have called him Fonz. Not “The Fonz”, just Fonz and now thirty years later I still call him Fonz. So Fonz and I just came back from visiting a very dear friend of ours.  Claudia has been a very close friend of mine since we started hanging out together at the swimming pool club in Great Neck.  At that time that I met Claudia I was in seventh grade and she was a year older and in 8th grade.  Claudia in some ways has become the sister I never had.  She is a very special spiritual person.

 After college we lived across the street from each other in Manhattan, we traveled to work in the garment center every day, sharing a cab, and spent all our summers together in Fire Island. We were inseparable.  Interesting enough, Claudia’s last name was Hirsch and I married a Hirsch.  I always felt like Claudia was one of my very best friends, so this was quite a coincidence.  Now we could really be “related”.

On the trip up in the car to visit Claudia and her husband Rolan, Fonz and I were listening to music from the 60’s and I started to reminisce.  I remembered when I was in sleep away camp and the camp had just taken us horseback riding.  While  seated in the back part of a station wagon( since at that times there we’re no SUV’s) I heard on the radio that Marilyn Monroe had been found dead.  I was around 12 years old and I remembered feeling quite upset.  I then flashed while in the car with my husband,as the music played on, how  I had such a crush on Johnny Crawford the singer (and actor).  I use to play his record on the juke box, while in a bowling alley  while I was away at camp.  I asked my husband, if he knew who he was and he said "of course". Fonz told me that he use to be on the Rifleman.  I answered " he was ?  I don’t remember ever watching that show".   Maybe I did, yet I have no recollection of it.  Can it be part of my dementia starting?  Sometimes I think so, although I do not worry about it.  The thought does cross my mind occasionally.

When I shared (last summer) with Claudia, about my writing a memoir dedicated to my mom and told her how inspiring my mom has become, since she has Alzheimer’s ,she told me about her friend Alfie. She said that Alfie’s mom also had Alzheimer’s and she remembered him telling her how happy his mom had become, singing, smiling and dancing. Claudia knew my mom pretty well.  I shared with Claudia that why I also wanted to tell “our” story was because of all the documentaries, movies and articles that I had read, I found rather upsetting and somewhat depressing.  Anyway before I left for Woodstock my mom said to me to send her love to Claudia.  Mom at this particular moment remembered her quite well. (This was last summer,and this year my mom remembers nothing.)  In fact she said “of course I know Claudia “and three days later when I called my mom to tell her what I nice time we had and how nice it was to see Claudia, my mom said" I don’t remember her at all".   I then tried to have her recall Claudia's dad and my dad’s friendship, her mom, all from our childhood, and my mom said “don’t even try I can’t remember any of it" .

My mom did not sound down when she said this. It just was a fact to her.  I then said to my mom “well at least you can remember me” and we both laughed.  My mom then said “you’re lucky you have me as a mom it could have been worse”.  I smiled to myself and answered her “you’re so right”, and now know how lucky I am to have her as my mom.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I just returned from a lovely week in Rhinebeck, which is located in upstate New York. My husband and I toured several of the mansions that  border the Hudson River. In the late 1800's and early 1900's this was where the wealthy Americans from this area built their weekend estates. The Roosevelt & Vanderbilt estates just to name a few.

 I now reminisced about how my parents had taken my brother and I to visit the manisons. It's funny because the one thing that really stayed in my memory was collecting pine cones and bringing them back home.  My mom still has them displayed on her coffee table in Florida. It's touching to me ,as I think back now, because she had to pack them up when she and my dad moved from Long Island, N.Y. to Florida 24 years ago.

So guess what souvenir I returned with several days ago ? Yes, pine cones from the FDR estate. I so proudly enjoyed picking them off the grounds as I did quite a few years ago. I shared all this with my mom who had no memory of taking me to the mansions or even knowing who Franklin Delano Roosevelt was. He was the President of the United States. How could she not remember that ? Her mind is like a blank canvas, with just about everything erased.

Although my mom could not remember anything that I tried to share with her she was once again so cute in what she did have to say.

I do not remember what I said to Ruthie on the telephone, yet she found it to be quite funny and after she stopped laughing mom said to me "you're funnier than Milton Berle".  Now I am not really familiar with him except that I know he was a comedian.  My mom has said this same expression to me several times, yet this time I decided to say, "mom Milton Berle must have been quite funny" and my mom answered with "who's Milton Berle"? So I now realize that it is an expression that remains in her brain and yet she has absolutely no idea who Milton Berle was.

At least she still knows where to use the expression and so I remain grateful for what we still have and all that we still can share.

Mom also was a little confused today with when I told her that her caregiver Trudy(Elaine's daughter) would not be coming til the afternoon ,because today was Sunday and Trudy likes to attend church. Ruthie said another one of her jingles which is "if she comes she comes and if she doesn't then she doesn't". Mom then added in that she may not be home anyway. "Mom where are you going"? I replied and mom said that she might be going out with her husband.

My dad passed away sixteen years ago.  I did not want to upset her and I chose not to mention it.  I just said "mom I think you mean your son Gil" and she answered " oh you're right". I then told her that my brother was not coming today and he would be visiting her in several days.

So this is "our" journey as my mom fades away, yet as of now, for the last several years she almost seems to be in the same place. I cannot remove the Alzheimer's from her, yet I can cherish every converstaion we still can have and love every second that we still can share. For this I am so thankful and embrace all our love together.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Tomorrow is my birthday.  Today when I spoke to my mom I asked her to get ready and practice her singing, because tomorrow I would like her to sing to me the Happy Birthday song. We both giggled, and I absolutely love that my mom is still able to sing, and especially to me.  I  actually cherish it.

I asked my mom if she could believe that she gave birth to me so many years ago. Ruthie laughed  and replied "if you tell me that I did, then I believe it". You see, my mom because of Alzheimer's cannot even remember when I was born or how old I am. In fact, she does not know how old she is either.
Now that is not such a bad thing !

 "Mom  do you know how old I am"? Ruthie replies" no I don't remember and as long as you have your health and are alive ,that is all that matters". So Ruthie my post today on my blog is dedicated to the one I love . My mom named Ruthie.

My mom gave birth to me when she was twenty four years old. My brother Gil was born five years earlier. My mom cuddled me, fed me, dressed me, sent me to ballet school,gave me piano lessons ,sent me to sleep away camp,took me on vacation, took me to historic sites,cultural events, museums, and concerts . My mom who took care of me as a young child and through my teenage years then sent me off to college and watched as I became a bride(not once but twice)and later as I became a mother myself.

This is the mom who watched and took care of my dad for nine long months as he was in a nursing home dying. My mom who throughout her years who has held her head high and has shown me much strength and courage. My mom who although she suffers from Alzheimer's and macular degeneration
at the age just shy of eighty seven never seems to complain or sound depressed. My mom who every day when I call her sounds so cheerful. My mom when I say hello, this is the mom who has a big smile on her face and laughter in her heart and says "hi sweetie".

This is my mom whom I have fallen deeply and passionately in love with the last several years.
This is my mom who gave birth to me, who brought me into this world and raised me to be a caring human being. This is the mom I want to thank.  This is the mom who has become my hero . Today with my birthday one day away I want to thank her for all that she has done and dedicate to her all my love. For without my mom I would not be here. Thank you mom and this I dedicate to you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Yesterday when I tried calling my mom I found her telephone out of order.  I really missed speaking to her .I was able to speak to my brother who would be visiting my mom later that day and he would see what the problem was. As I sat getting a pedicure in the late afternoon a feeling of loneliness had come over me. I had been at the Alzheimer's Association , NYC Chapter earlier in the day meeting with the Volunteer Program Coordinator and I had shared with her about not being able to reach my mom earlier.  The sadness that I was feeling was that I really missed  hearing my moms cheerful voice and telling her who would be coming to visit her that day.

I wonder if my mom also felt some void and missed hearing my voice and our laughter together that we get to share on most days.  I know that my mom does not remember that I call her each day, yet I hold on to all the days that we still have left, when I get to hear my mom's sweet voice say "hi Lisa and I miss you and love you". Who could ever ask for more !


Mom told me that it is raining so hard out and she said” listen I’ll open the door so you can listen to the rain".  “Okay mom” and that is exactly what she did.  I did hear the heavy drops and told her to please stay inside.  She said that she had gotten dressed so nice today in green pants with a matching green necklace with pearls, but since it is raining so hard she won’t be going out.  So I told her that when I’m visiting in 2 weeks with Logan that when we go out to celebrate her birthday and she can get all dressed up.  Ruthie said" great", and repeated which she has done a lot lately, her birthday date of August 24 i.  The last few weeks she has recalled this day quite a few times where prior to this she did not know it.  I guess another blessing from sweet Ruthie, my mom.  

The next stop on my list of things to do that day was Bert (my husband) & I went to lower Manhattan on the subway to take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.  I was never on it and I believe it has become a real tourist destination since it is now free.   Imagine on a beautiful summers day taking a ferry across the East River in the harbor for a thirty minute ride each way for free.  It was filled with tourists from other countries snapping pictures of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  The water was greenish blue in color and the sun was glistening off of the ripples in the water. There was a wonderful cool breeze.  As we passed Ellis Island I had recalled the one and only time that I was there and that was about 12-14 years ago when we took my mom to Ellis Island. This is where both my mom and dad's parents had come through when entering the United States from Russia and Austria many years ago.  After that we then took my mom to the Statue of Liberty which has, and is always been so thrilling to me.  It is a place that I hold dear to my heart.

My first time there was as a young child with my parents and brother.  Sadly enough this time my dad could not be with us (since he has passed away.) Remembering both times that I was there and the memories left me feeling such warmth and comfort.  My mom and I were getting along so well for a couple of years after my dad had died.  

How and why did it all change?  What could have happened between my mom and me?  Today I am so proud to say, that I’m so glad that she is my mom.  Lucky, lucky me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011



 I recently asked my mom if she remembered my dear friend Leslie. Mom said she did which surprised me.  I told her that I was going to see Leslie today, who lives out in Plainview, Long Island and we were going to have a barbecue.  I had met Leslie while I worked for her dad in the fashion industry over thirty five years ago.  Irv, her dad was one of my favorite bosses, and Leslie came to work for her dad.  Our desks faced one another and we become quite close and are still great friends.  Can you imagine what a special person Leslie must be to work with the boss’s daughter and to become so close?  

We have shared much laughter and tears throughout all our years of friendship.  Leslie’s mom like my mom also suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.  Although in Leslie case, she claims that her mom has gotten nasty and bitter.  Leslie lives only 20 minutes from her mother so she can see her all the time which I wish was my situation (although Leslie may not agree).  Leslie is a special friend and I love her and cherish our friendship.  Isn’t it true that no matter who you meet and become friends with, the friends that you have known for so long become so endearing to us.  They know everything about us ,as throughout the years we have lived and shared so many of life’s experiences with one another.

 I still remember all of my mom’s dear friends, (mostly from grade school) many who have since passed away.  I remember all the stories and laughter that they would share about, with each other, so many years later. They all bring warmth to my heart ,and a smile to my face, as I reminisce about them.   While I was growing up I would love to hang out around them, and listen to all the moments that they once shared.  These are memories that my mom unfortunately no longer has.   I guess my mom had instilled in me about how special friends are without me even realizing it.  Thanks mom for showing me what real friendships mean and I am sorry that my mom no longer has any of these precious memories.

Monday, July 4, 2011

THE WORLD OF ART- Picasso,Van Gogh & Warhol

THE WORLD OF ART-Picasso,Van Gogh & Warhol

 Its funny how while I’m up and about doing something, that it sometimes can spark off such vivid memories. They seem to be memories of times that I once shared with my mom.  Today it was almost 100 degrees outside so my husband I decided to go to the Museum of Modern Art, better known as the MOMA. The museum was enlarged several years ago and the paintings that hang on the walls are breathtaking.  It is a summer’s day and the museum is quite crowded, mostly with tourists, for most New Yorkers like to leave the city on  summer weekends.

 While I was wandering through the museum a thought came to me about my mom.  I remembered meeting my parents after work and waiting on line with them at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the King Tut exhibit.  My mom had gotten tickets for us in advance. During this time I was already working in the fashion industry in New York and sharing an apartment with a friend of mine.  I was in my mid twenties at this time.   After work I went to the museum to meet my parents.  My memories flashed on how many museums I use to go to with my parents, and how my mom just loved seeing all the masterpieces that hung on the museums walls.  My dad was actually a very good artist.  He did it as a hobby, mostly painting in oil, so I’m sure he also enjoyed his visits to the museums.  

My mom had lots of energy to walk through all the floors, and it didn’t matter how tired any of us were getting she seemed to continue on with much joy and excitement.  Sadness over came me after I flashed on my mom and how much she loved going to the museums.  I know when I speak to her tomorrow on the phone I will want to share this with her and I know that this is no longer part of her world.  Wow, how life changes.

The next day I call my mom and what a great day to speak to my mom.  Ruthie was very aware and when I shared with her that I went to the Museum of Modern Art yesterday, she actually asked me where the museum was located and what exhibits were at the museum.  I told her Matisse was the special exhibit and about all the other avant garde artists, the photography and the wonderful permanent exhibits that are always at the MOMA.  These exhibits included Picasso, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein, just to name a few.  I then mentioned how I thought of her yesterday and of all the museums she had taken me to as a child.  I reminded her also of the exhibit of King Tut that she had taken me to.  With a joyful voice she giggled and said I don’t remember it was so long ago, and I replied how special these times that we shared together were.   I will try to remember for both of us (which is not always easy to do).