Monday, August 29, 2011



What a week this was living in New York City.  First we had an earthquake that we felt (originated in Virgina) next we were expecting the largest hurricane to hit N.Y. in 100 years(it was not major) and mom turned 87 years young this week. That was the nicest part of the week although I could not be with her to celebrate this joyful occassion.

The truth is that even if I was with my mom she would not have remembered it. The picture I posted is from my brother Gil. Mom looks so happy and beautiful to me, so there is not much more I could ask for.  I am quite thrilled because we just increased the amount of time her caregiver Elaine will be able to stay with mom.

On Thursday, one day after Ruthie's celebration I speak to Elaine, who tells me who was at mom's party,how nice it was, and about the cake, pizza and balloons. I sing again to my mom, the Happy Birthday song and she joins in with me on "how old are you now". Mom has no idea and cannot fill in the age. I ask my mom how old she is and her answer is "old enough to know better." Not remembering our age is not necessarily a bad thing.  Mom thrills me because she still has a quick and sharp sense of humor. I tell my mom that I heard all about her birthday party, and my mom's answer is that she cannot remember any of it. "Mom, do you see balloons flyng above you?" "Yes", mom replies yet all of her memory seems to be gone.

A lifetime gone as easy as blowing out a candle.  I decide to share with her about all the birthday wishes she has gotten from people all over the world.  This brings joy to my mom as she say's "really?"How do they know me?" and I say " mom, because I write about you all the time maybe you are starting to become famous." Ruthie giggles like a young girl with much delight in her voice.

Mom while looking out her window tells Elaine that her mother is suppose to be coming to see her soon. I know that she means me. It's funny because she also sometimes calls my brother her husband.  Maybe the confusion lies in her deep love for her children. Could that be it?  Her husband and her mother? It certainly sounds good to me.

 On the brighter side of things, my mom has invited me to stay at her home to get away from  Hurricane Irene. Mom says that all that is important is that I am safe.  I tell her I wish I could come and explain that all the airports have been closed. I remind her that she's in Florida and I'm in New York. Mom seems a little confused although we do have a good laugh about how the hurricane is suppose to be in her neck of the woods not up by me. It's ironic because I avoided going to mom's in September knowing that it was their hurricane season.

 So mom in six weeks I'll be coming again to visit and bringing your favorite, one and only grandson Logan. Logan is also excited and has not seen my mom in a year. We both can hardly wait to see her and get our arms around her and smother her with a big hug and kiss.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011



Today is August 24th, 2011.  It is a very special day in more ways than one. I am so excited because today my mom turns 87 years "young." When I shared this with Ruthie, she replied " 87 years old, wow,I'm that old? " "Yes mom" I answered.  My mom then replies, and I quote her "well at least I don't look my age."
And with that we both laugh. My mom does have so much spunk and energy, although I think she does look close to her age. I will certainly not tell her, why spoil her day. If Ruthie thinks she looks young, that's all that matters. You see, my mom's eyesight is failing, because she also has macular degeneration. Something that she never ever mentions or complains about. So mom, I just want to wish you a very, very special birthday and send you all my love and kisses.

Besides it being my mom's birthday there are also threats to Florida that Hurricane Irene is close to hitting them. Yesterday when I spoke to my mom ,besides her having a wonderful day, I also spoke to her caregiver Elaine , who is one in a million.  Elaine shared with me two things. One, that she was going to get a cake and come back over to visit my mom when my brother Gil was also visiting . Two ,that she told me that if the hurricane was going to hit that she will stay over at my mom's house since she did not want my mom to be all alone. You see Elaine only is with my mom 4-5 hours a day. What a special lady Elaine is for offering this, no one even asked this of her. She and her daughter Trudy take wondeful care of my mom .We are so lucky to have them.

Elaine puts my mom back on the telephone and I share with my mom what Elaine just said and my mom repeats everything that I say to Elaine. I find it so cute and I then tell my mom that Elaine is so nice to her because she(my mom) is so nice and gives Elaine no trouble. We both laugh and sure enough she repeats what I just said once again to Elaine.  My mom than says to me "Lisa you are a doll and I love you so much." "Mom you're going to make me cry." My mom then says, "please don't cry" and I answer, "mom, they would be tears of joy." After we hang up my heart feels like it could explode for how much love I feel for her.

Too think that before my mom got Alzheimer's, there were moments when we fought and did not get along. Sometimes, for a quick second I did not care if we saw each other again. And today all I want to do is hold on to her, love her and cherish every second that she still knows my name and who I am. Ruthie, my mom is to me one special lady.

So mom I dedicate to you all my love and wish that all my writings about you and our relationship are able to touch other people, just like you have touched me. And mom, once again Happy, Happy Birthday.

Fact- Every 69 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Please help us spread awareness around the planet about this disease.

Monday, August 22, 2011



Today on the phone my mother was a little in outer space.  Although we we’re able to laugh through parts of it, and she did spell and sing for me, some of the conversations I found a little upsetting.

When I called my mom this morning she told me, like she has done before, that she was dressed and was waiting for this man to come and pick her up.  She kept opening and closing her front door to look out for him, while we spoke on the phone.  I have heard this story from my mom before. This time I got a little nervous.  What would happen if she went outside and got locked out of her apartment or wandered away?  How would she find her way back?  Would the I.D. bracelet help?
Or better yet, is she even wearing it?

 I hung up the phone and left my apartment to go to my Tuesday morning Pilate’s class.   As I walked to my weekly class I felt somewhat troubled and thought that when I arrived in Florida in three days my brother and I would have to have “another” serious conversation about my mom.

When I returned home I called my mom back and asked to speak to Elaine. This was the first time that she did not say “who's Elaine” and this time she said “Elaine my daughter wants to speak to you.”  I spoke to Elaine about what happened this morning and my fears.   Elaine said that this past Saturday morning at 7:50 AM when she arrived that my mom was saying the same things about some man.  Elaine also told me that my mom’s neighbor had told her that sometimes my mom goes outside nude. My mom overheard Elaine telling me and in the background I hear my mom saying that she never, ever does that.  I ask to speak to my mom and like a person who just had a concussion my mom keeps asking me over and over again when I am coming and with whom.  No matter how many time she asks and I repeat it, she just can’t remember.  So I patiently went over it again with her.  I then told her that she would be seeing Gil my brother twice this week for he was picking us up at the airport.  All she kept saying was could I please come today instead and I tried explaining that my plane ticket was for Friday.  Being the mom with all her wisdom she tries to convince me that I can trade my ticket with someone else.

 Regarding Gil who she sees’s every Wednesday she tells me that he never comes and that he never takes her to lunch.  I say mom, “yes he does you just can’t remember it now”.  She asks me to tell her what he does.  I describe to her that my brother comes into her home and the first thing he does is give her a kiss.  My mom lightens up a little and laughs.  I guess she likes that he kisses her.  Actually my mom at different times refers to Gil, my brother, as her husband.  My brother Gil does not resemble my dad at all. They looked totally different and had different coloring.  I then say to mom “lets spell so we can stimulate your brain” and she says” I have no brain” and I say” mom don’t be silly you have a really good brain” and once again we both giggle.

My mom sounds like a lost child when she asks me why she can’t remember anything about Gil ever taking her out, or to lunch.  She asks me to please tell her again.  My heart starts to hurt for her and I think how I just want to kidnap her, bring her back to New York with me, and take care of her.  At times like this I want to put her in my arms and just hold her and tell her not to worry everything will be okay.  As I write about this now, somehow as a child I don’t remember having this kind of nurturing from my mom yet I do remember having this special nurturing relationship with my dad.  I always felt a sense of security and safeness with him, not with my mom.  It’s funny how certain memories of our childhood could have formed us, or perhaps scarred us.  To think that I have been given this second opportunity in life to begin a fresh new loving relationship with my mom filled only with love and respect for her is such a miracle.

When friends tell me how sad it is about my mom I smile and say that for me it has opened doors  and allowed me to have a brand new relationship that I so much cherish, and for this I am so grateful.   For me my story is about a new found love with a mother and daughter. Can you ever ask for more?  I don’t think so!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011



Each time after I leave visiting my mom within a very short time my mom has no recollection that I was even just with her.  She does not remember seeing me in her kitchen or taking her for walks or out to eat. She does not remember me helping her to wash her face, brush her teeth,her hair, or to help her get dressed. She does not remember us singing or dancing. Yet I hope she remembers all the love I have for her. For me that's all that matters.

Ever since I came back from my last trip to see mom, she keeps asking me why I don’t come over.  She says that she would love for me to come and visit her.  I explain each and every time that I live far away and that I would have to get on a plane, since I cannot just drive over.  Ruthie seems really surprised that I live so far away.  Then mom asks me how long it would take and she adds in” what is the big deal” and tells me that I should just get on the plane.  I tell her how I wish I could and  yet she cannot understand  the distance between us.  I’m in New York and she lives in Florida. New York is where  my mom was born and lived until 24 years ago when she and my dad moved to Florida.
Mom actually just asked me if it was cold where I live and I say “no mom its New York and we are experiencing summer just like you”.

I recently flashed back on when my mom  came to visit approximately 5-6 years ago.  This was before I realized that she had Alzheimer’s.  My mom and I would be having big fights, ones that she would say that she was never coming to see me anymore, and after her return to Florida she would always thank me and tell me what a great time she had.  Was her memory starting to fail?  Did she not remember what went on or as my mother, did she just really want it to end in a nice way?  Was she in denial, or the beginning  of  Alzhemier's?
Sometimes I feel a little helpless and sad.  I miss my mom alot and not being able to see her more often certainly upsets me.  My mom still loves her home and feels secure there so trying to remove her from her home to live closer to me right now is not possible.  Yet when that time comes I'm afraid to say that she probably will no longer know who I am.
How great would it be if I could see my mom more often just to hug and squeeze her. Although I do speak to my mom everyday and get to share with her how much I love and miss her it doesn't seem to be enough. New York and Florida are just too far apart.  Only if we could live closer. How cool that would be.
Next trip to my mom's is not until beginning of October.  So until I see her adorable face and get to hold her hand again, I will keep sending my love and kisses ,via the telephone.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Laughter, Smiles & Memories

What I have been noticing is that I am laughing alot more when I speak to people that are not familiar to me.  I realized this while making phone calls at the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer Association where I recently started volunteering on Thursday's.  I've been calling different facilities to update their records for their helpline. I actually had a lady thank me for she had been boggled down all day with paperwork and after we spoke and were laughing she said "I just want to thank you for making me laugh". Which then put a big smile on my face and I immediately thought of my mom.

Could this be because of my mom and all the laughter that we share together on our daily phone calls?
Could be,who knows.  I just know that when my mom and I speak I find that we both laugh alot together, while one of us makes a joke or says something that amuses us. This part of our relationship definately happened after my mom had gotten Alzheimer's. Perhaps before, there were moments that I did not even want to call her, and yet I did, so she would hear my voice and know that I was okay. Sometimes, I absolutely did call to share something with her, yet these light cheerful conversations that we now share, were definately not part of our realtionship back then. This is rather interesting to me, this shift in our relationship and love that we now show each other(ever since my mom got Alzheimer's).  Actually, it is quite lovely.

I also noticed that for some unknown reason I did not want to use the word Alzheimer's to my mom, when I shared with her that I was going to volunteer the other day. My mom said "that's so nice, where are you volunteering she asked?"  I said "mom I'm going to a place where older people are" and at that second I realized how I was actually afraid to tell her the truth. Was I afraid that I would upset her? What or why wouldn't I say the word to her? My mom knew that her younger brother had Alzheimer's and sadly passed away from it. I remember that my mom use to get really upset when she saw him because he no longer recognized her or anyone for that matter. By the time my Uncle Alvin passed away my mom had Alzheimer's herself, and although she was quite upset when she found out about her baby brother passing away, none of us meaning, my brother or I would speak about it with her.

So am I protecting my mom from not saying the word Alzheimer's to her? I actually do not think that my brother or I have shared with my mom in any length that she had Alzheimer's. It's strange yet she would now not even remember what it is or what she has, for my mom cannot remember almost everything.

I shared with her that my Cousin Carole was coming to visit and mom said nothing. I explained "Mom Cousin Carole is Uncle Benny's daughter. Uncle Benny was daddy's older brother who we went to visit all the time". My mom replies' "I really do not remember anything, yet his name sounds a little familiar to me." 

With a little pang in my heart and bewilderment on my face I changed the subject.
All gone and all forgoetten. How does your life ,your experiences, all of your precious lifetime of memories just slip away ? Poof, disappear like they never existed. It is absolutely amazing that this is what this disease can do to you.

FACT- Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Alzheimer's is a worldwide problem having no boundaries. Please help spread awareness around the planet.

Monday, August 8, 2011


 I want to stay upbeat and positive, although as I write this post, I am honestly feeling a little scared and upset. I just spoke to my brother on the telephone. I called to share with him what my mother had said yesterday to me. Or should I say what she did not say. It certainly left me feeling a little bewildered and with a heavy heart.
As my mom answered the phone I greeted her with a perky hello. "Hi mom and how are you feeling today?"She answered, "just fine sweetie,"which  immediately put a big smile on my face and much joy in my heart. I excitedly told mom, how I just met another girl named Lisa Elian. Please let me explain; Elian is my maiden name, and an unusual one at that. I did not bother to tell mom that I met her on Facebook or that she lived in Austria, which is where my dad's father was from. Maybe we are related? I did share this part with my mom.
Ruthie laughed out loud and said "really, that's very funny because my name is Lisa Elian." Did I just hear my mom correctly or was I hearing things? "Mom, I though your name was Ruth,"and she answered "no I have two names, Lisa & Ruth.""Well mom, who am I?" Ruthie then answered , "I'm not sure who I am speaking to." Was I hearing things? Mom had just called me sweetie, after she answered the phone.
"Mom, I'm your daughter and my name is Lisa. Maybe you just want to call yourself Lisa because you love me so much." She laughed, and at that moment, I think she realized her confusion.
We speak a little longer and after I hang up I try to call my brother. He does not answer. I share all this with my husband and I can't help to feel a little shaken up. I am left with the thought of ,what is happening to my mother ?
The next day I finally reach my brother Gil and he agrees that she is getting worse. I called mom again today and this time I ask her if she can spell my name. Mom answers " I don't even know your name.""Mom, not only am I your daughter, you also gave me my name."Can you guess what is my name?" First she says is it Trudy? and then quickly she says Lisa." Very good mom, I think to myself and then I say "what is your name?" Mom, says that it is "Ruth."
So tomorrow when I call, and every day after I will start my calls with, "hi mom its Lisa your daughter," so my mom will be sure to hopefully remember my name.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011



One day back in June 2010, when I was asking my mom if she knew when my birthday was. Ruthie said she did not remember, so I rephrase my question and I said” okay when did you give birth to me?”  My mom answers me that she does not know, except that is not important. What matters she said is that she gave birth to me and I was healthy and alive.  My mom continues to say that I was really good baby (which I heard I wasn’t) and that she took good care of me.  She says that memories come and go and that is okay.  She touches me as usual and I tell her that I want to take her on the Dr. Phil show (since Oprah is gone) and she asks if he is still on TV.  I answer yes.  Mom says she doesn’t want to be on TV and I ask why not and she says she does not know.  So I tell my mom that I want to tell everyone about my relationship with her and how inspiring she is to me.  I want to share to everyone how my mom has blossomed into this beautiful flower.  She laughs and says, so are you!

When I hear that my mom does not remember her grandson calling her I know this is not good. The sun rises and sets on her only grandchild.  I tell my mom that Logan came over for us to meet his girlfriend.  Of course I tell her how nice she was.  This time my mom asks me nothing about Logan or his girlfriend.  She says nothing which is not like her.   Logan is the apple of my mom’s eye and I know that this would have a lot of meaning to her.  Her response, or no response had me realize again about her illness ,that today was not one of her better days.  

A few days later when my mom sounded great I mentioned again about Logan and that Bert & I met his girlfriend and this time her response was cheerful and sharp.  My mom asks how old she is and if she is cute.  I answer on both and I tell her that it was nice to see Logan being affectionate to her in front of us, by holding her hand.  My mom laughs and then says “that’s good because a lot of kids will not do that in front of their parents. “ Wow mom there you go again with your many insights and wisdoms about “life”.

My mom has asked me where I live which again I have told her several times.  I was born in New York and have lived here all my life.  I tell her I live on the East River so close that I could jump out my window and be in the river.  She tells me not to jump and we both laugh. Today she seems to be on speed, her adrenaline is going and she’s really talking up a storm.  She keeps singing and singing and changing the words to every song.  I tell her to keep practicing because I’m going to take her on some TV show.  She asks why ,and I say so she can be famous ,and that I want the world to meet her.  She says she’ll be dead before she’s ever famous.  She continues going on and on with one story after another. This has not happened in quite a while. What an imagination she has.  I listen and listen and finally after feeling a little guilty I tell her I need to get going, throwing her kisses and we hang up.

Telling my mom about writing a book I’ve have occasionally read her bits of it.  When I read her something that I don’t like the way it is written she tells me that if I don’t like it I can just throw it out.  She mentions that when I read to her and ask her opinion she feels flattered.  I then come across a word that seems to be spelt incorrectly and I ask Ruthie the spelling Queen how to spell the word.  She goes ahead and spells it and says that I should write the word down 3 times and it will eventually it will look correct.  Good thinking mom and thanks for the advice.  I will certainly try it.

I mention to my mom that Logan, who now lives in Manhattan like me, is moving across the river to Hoboken, New Jersey because his rent is getting to be too much. To this she replies that it is better that he is moving across the river, instead of in the river and we both laugh. She does have a great sense of humor and is quite quick with her answers.

Whenever my mom says something that I want to add to my book/blog, I tell her that my book is never going to end.  She asks why and I say with all your words of wisdom I just keep writing and writing what you say. Mom then says to me “so just go with it and if your story never ends it never ends.”  She tells me that I can’t stop it ,so I may as well go with it.  That’s my mom !

FACT- Alzheimer's disease cannot be slowed, prevented or cured.

Monday, August 1, 2011



As I look over my personal journal of some things my mom has said, I find some of them so uplifting and truly amazing.  This is from a lady who has no memory left of her past. Here are some things that I would like to share with you.

One day while I was speaking to my mom she kept opening and closing her front door, almost like an obsession. ”Mom why are you opening and closing your door?” Ruthie replies,” to see how hot it is outside.”  Now my mom lives in Florida and it’s the summer so we can imagine how hot it is.  In a kidding around way I tell her that her palm trees grow coconuts, and that there are pineapple bushes on her patio.  I then ask her which she likes better.  She laughs and answers” I think I like pineapples better.”  So I say mom “please close your door and then lock it so no one can kidnap you.”  We both laugh and my mom says” don’t worry if they kidnap me, and after they see what they got, the kidnappers will change their minds and bring me right back.”  Once again we both laugh and I smile at her wit and her sense of humor.  With everything that is happening to her she still seems to amaze me.

I remember my mom once rushing Elaine her caregiver to the telephone when I called.  I had asked my mom if I could speak to Elaine and my mom was concerned that I was calling long distance.  Ruthie wanted Elaine to hurry so it would not cost me too much money.  I thought my mom’s concern was cute and I reassured her that all my telephone calls were free.  She then said to Elaine that she didn’t have to rush to the phone and told me that she felt better. Mom added in that she does not pay for anything either. You see my brother now takes care of paying my mom’s bill because she is not capable of doing that any longer.  Yet if you ask mom she insist that she has no bills to pay.  Lucky, lucky mom!

 Elaine tells me that my mom has a new habit which is that she takes her small coffee yogurt cups that she eats most days and throws them over her front gate after she eats them.  I know that I cannot speak to her about this because she would never remember doing it and would absolutely deny it.  When Elaine has asked her about it she tells her that her neighbor upstairs must be throwing them over the balcony.  My mom use to walk back and forth to the garbage room.  It was her daily exercise and a way for her to get some fresh air.  She probably now walks out her front door and has no memory of where the garbage room is.  She has a yogurt cup in her hand, which she does not know what to do with, so she throws it into her bushes over her gate.  Her garbage room is located next to her mailroom which I know she has no idea any more where that is located.  When I heard about this it made me laugh, it is just so innocent, like a small child.

 I know that sometimes when I am on the phone with her she’ll ask me if she should go look for something and I say okay, then she says I’m just putting the telephone down on the table ,and I’ll be right back.  Then she comes back immediately and says “I forgot what was I suppose to be looking for”. I'm lucky that she remembers that I'm on the telephone.

I am so grateful that my mom still has her sense of humor and wit. I love her childlike ways. I hold so near to my heart  and cherish all that my mom still is. I do not know how long anything will last, as my mom  keeps slipping away.