Sunday, January 29, 2012



My mom came alive again today.  Just several days after her return home from the hospital, mom is back.  Except I know better now, and that is, that my mom will never really be back and yet she has moments of  having her senese of humor , her wit and her wisdom all rolled into her petite silhoulettte.
Mom only wanted to know when I would be visiting her. Ruthie was aware that I lived in New York and she in Florida. We laughed, we sang and we celebrated just being alive.

"Hi mom how are you"? "I'm good and do you want to hear something crazy"? "Sure mom", I replied.
"There is this picture hanging on a wall that is the same exact picture that hangs in my home". "Well mom you are in your home". Mom answered with a uncertainty in her voice, "I am"?. "Mom do you know who you are talking to"? Mom said I don't know and then corrected herself rather quickly with saying "my best friend".  I decided to play along with her.  She then told me, like she has for the last several years that I was funnier than Milton Berle. "Okay mom who is Milton Berle"? Ruthie answered, "I don't know". There was a time not so long ago, when my mom would say the same expression to me.  The differnce was, she then knew that Milton Berle was a famous comedian. Not anymore.

My mom's disease has opened up my heart and soul and has deepened my love and respect for her and others. Through what may look like a tragedy to some has opened for me a caring loving safe space. A place filled with compassion and understanding  that somehow seems different than before.

My mothers courage and strength has so deeply inspired me. Her words of joy and love has enlightened my heart.  My mom named Ruthie has become my budha.  Not only has she blossomed ,she has opened my heart to reach out to others and for this we share our story.

FACT- Every 69 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Sunday, January 22, 2012



I have been walking around with a heavy heart ever since my mom was hallucinating and ended up in a hospital. This was my awakening that my mom was now ready to go into a nursing home. The thought left me feeling so sad and lonely.  My feelings were all filled with much fear of how can I do this to my mom?  What will she say and how will she feel? How could I possibly even think of it?  Was I about to do the right thing? Was this best for my mom? My mom who has expressed many times that she wanted to stay in her home till she dies.  Should I wait a couple of months which would be only prolonging the inevitable? 

All this left me with many memories of my mom and dad and how quickly our lives go by. We sit, we plan and we do not really know if we’ll even be around to fill our dreams.  Lately I have been awakening most mornings to dreams that are still so vivid as I rise out of my sleep .  Before this episode I was enjoying my mom completely.  I guess one could say that I looked upon the situation with that my cup was half full, not half empty. Several years ago after I realized that my mom had Alzheimer’s I had decided to cherish every second left that I still could share with her.

Today when I called my mom I was able to have such a fun uplifting conversation. It lifted my spirits and had me feeling so much lighter. My mom told me that I  had seven sisters and two brothers. The true facts are that my mom has only one daughter, that is me, and only one son.  For me I was happy to play along with her as we both giggled like teen age girls.  My mom does not remember what is true and to me that makes no difference.  At this point it does not matter.  I guess what I need, or so badly want, is to delight in these cute and humorous conversations whether they make sense or not.
What I realized was that when my mom is sounding so great she might be in la, la land and when I catch her sounding a little down, she may be somewhere in her mind, wondering what is happening to her. I cannot change or take away Alzheimer’s from my mom, yet I can laugh with her and enjoy the moments that we have left.  And guess what, out of my mom’s seven daughters I’m still her favorite one. Lucky, lucky me!  So I wonder, is it better to have my cup half full or half empty? There is nothing I can change other than how I hold everything.  I am grateful for all that we still have left and cannot think about all that is lost. For this my cup will remain half full.

And in one second our lives can change for today my mom was rushed back to the hospital.  At this moment all I have left is to wonder what is next.

Monday, January 16, 2012



Dreams are something that we all can relate to. I awoke today to a rather upsetting dream which I thought immediately of my mom.  It was of a woman just lying in what looked like a hospital bed with no movement as if she were almost dead.  To me the image was my mom and it left me feeling quite sad and empty.

I’d like to go back a few days from today and explain what has transpired with my mom.  My mom and I had a magical conversation on the telephone just the other day.  She listened carefully as I read her a section of my blog/book about her childhood.  Mom was delighted and remembered where she was born and where she grew up, her parents, her dear friend Jeanie, and her love of reading books. With enthusiasm she made comments as I read to her.  I hung up the phone and said WOW, this was truly amazing and a moment that I would not forget. 

The next day mom still sounded good and I asked her if she was going to her clubhouse.  Mom said to me “no I am not going to the clubhouse I’m too busy”.   I laughed and joked around with her about what she was so busy with.  “Mom are you going to work, or are you so busy cooking dinner”?  Mom answered no to both.  I was just happy that my mom was able to remember that where she lived had a clubhouse.  Up to now for several years mom claims that there is no clubhouse which was a place she had once enjoyed going to on most days.

The following day when I called in the morning my mom was hallucinating. I could not believe what I was hearing her say.  She insisted that she wanted to go to her house and that the place she now was in was not her home.  You see mom has lived in this home for twenty three years.  A place that she had shared with my dad, a home that she said she will never leave.  Today this was not what she was saying.  I just wanted to hang up the phone and run right over to her.  This is not possible since we live in different states.  I felt so scared.  How could any of this be happening when only yesterday mom was doing so great?

I knew that my brother was visiting my mom today, so I hung up and I called him immediately.  He arrived at moms around 2PM and hours later my mom was still hallucinating. The second my brother arrived mom insisted that they leave, which is something she never wants to do.  She told my brother that she lived with her parents and that she wanted to go home and be with them.  My brother told mom that her parents were no longer alive and my mom insisted that they were.

My brother decided since she was hallucinating for so many hours that he should bring her to the hospital.  Something had to be terribly wrong.  They admitted my mom and found that she had a urinary tract infection and put her on an antibiotic.  I have since learned that this can be common in women who have dementia.  Something my brother and I were not aware of.

The second day in the hospital mom was speaking to me on the phone like she was on speed.  She had sounded the same way as the day she was hallucinating. The only difference was she was now in the hospital which left me feeling a little relieved.

This morning when I spoke to my mom she sounded much better.  I told her how much I missed her and my mom then said “can you come over when I get home”?  Mom, I’d love to but not right away.  Mom then said “Lisa when was the last time you visited me”?  “Mom I was at your home four weeks ago”. Mom then said “you’re not a good daughter that was a long time ago”. “Mom I live in New York and you live in Florida, I cannot just come over”.  Mom then said with such clarity,”oh I forgot that you live in New York”.  I then said “mom would you like to move back to New York so we can be together”. Mom replied, “no I lived there for so many years and being in Florida is now like a vacation for me”.

I shared with my brother this morning that somewhere I feel that when I read to my mom about her childhood, on a very good day for her, that it somehow sparked a memory for her.  A memory like a dream that stayed implanted in her mind.  I might have reawakened for her memoires of long ago that have been lost.   Almost like a dream.  Dreamlike, her strong will of wanting to only go back home and be with her parents.   Was my mom scared while she seemed to be hallucinating or was she perhaps at peace feeling the security and warmth of her childhood and the love of her parents?  Was mom awake walking through her dream?  We all have had dreams that have felt so warm and comforting that we don’t want to wake up from.  Could this be what had happened to my mom?

For the moment my mom seems a little better.  I can hardly express how good it feels.  It gives me glimmers of hope that I know will absolutely not last.  I am trying to stay optimistic and appreciate the time we still have together.   I do not know how long this will last.   I love my mom dearly and she still carries with her so much strength and courage.  My mom continues to inspire me each day, and for this my mom remains my hero.

Sunday, January 8, 2012



On December 23rd 2011 at 7:45 in the morning I was getting ready to go for my yearly physical at my doctor’s office.  As I washed and dried my face, brushed my teeth and continued to get dressed I thought of my mom. I realized how she was no longer able to do any of these simplest things by herself.  Yes, she still can brush her teeth and get dressed and even wash her face, yet the difference for my mom is that unless someone assists her to do any of these things, my mom would never even think of doing them.  When I am with her and tell her that we need to wash, shower or brush her teeth mom asks me, “why”?  She goes to sleep in her clothes so she will not have to get redressed in the morning.  Mom says that this was much easier for her.  She claims that she does not have to wash or shower because she does not get dirty.  All this is coming from a woman that had the pearliest white teeth, which she so proudly brushed several times a day. Mom showered daily and had her hair done professionally once a week. None of this exists in her world anymore. She would never go to a doctor, or visit her dentist to get her teeth examined or cleaned.  My mom would not and could not even think of doing this.  Not in her world.  Not only has Alzheimer’s wiped my mom’s memory of almost everything in her life, it has also left her at moments like a child.  She can hardly  think for herself .

 I wonder how any of this could happen to a human being?  What has crept into her brain or out of it to possibly destroy all of her reasoning, thinking and memory?  This is because my mom has a disease known as Alzheimer’s.  It is a disease that every 69 seconds someone is diagnosed with.  It is a disease that as of now has no cure or prevention even in sight. It is a disease that will affect at least ten million baby boomers if something is not found.

I recently read an article in the New York Times discussing how the baby boomers generation had fought for so many rights, especially the females who now are becoming caregivers for their elderly parents.  It does not matter how old one is, we the children of the 40’s & 50’s are left to watch over and perhaps take care of our aging parents. We need a great deal of money to be able to hire someone to help us care for them. Most of us cannot afford to do that which then leaves us responsible to care for our parents.  The generation that faces this responsibility as of now, is known as the baby boomers. Yes, I am one of them and although it is my pleasure to care for my mom as she had once cared for me, it is something that I had not given much thought about. I have one son and I wonder if I or my husband will have to call upon him to help care for us. I certainly hope not.

FACT-   An estimated 5.4 million Americans currently have Alzheimer’s. By 2050 it is estimated that 16 million Americans will be living with the disease. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012



"Hi mom, I just wanted to wish you a Happy, Heatlhy New Year". Mom answered with "oh it's the New Year, what is the year"?  "Mom it's now 2012 and you were born in the year 1924 ."That was a very long time ago",mom replied.

I could see my mom's smile right through the telephone as she said " Lisa, it does not matter how long ago it was, as long as we all have our health and are happy that is all that matters". "Yes mom I totally agree"." Mom, in the New Year I plan to smother you with lots of love", and we both giggled.

The day before New Years I told my mom that it would be the New Year the following day. My mom said " please remind me because I will forget". "No problem mom, and mom I'd like to ask you a question. If today is 2011 what will the New Year be"?  Mom answered with, 2012. I was asking the question to see if my mom could still figure that out. "Oh great mom, I was just testing your intelligence",as I fooled around with her.  We both laughed and then Ruthie said "you know I am intelligent". "Okay mom can you spell intelligence"? Mom said "of course I can", as she rambled off the letters getting 97% correct.

I haven't been spelling that much with my mom lately, which was something that I use to have her do. I had hoped that it would stimulate her memory. My mom still spells most words correctly, which I feel is pretty good. I've been told that will probably be one of the last things my mom will be able to do before she gets worse(since in her youth and adulthood she read a great deal).

I also realized that I haven't been singing with her as frequently as I use to. I think that maybe I've gotten a little lazy, or is it that my mom no longer can have any conversations with me. Ruthie seems to rush me off the phone most days. Yet when I do start to sing she usually joins right in.

I asked mom if she has been dancing ,since my last trip visiting her( the first week of December). Mom said" not really" and after I asked her "why not"(?) Ruthie responded with that she had no one to dance with, and that she did not want to dance alone. "Well mom you could dance with some people at the clubhouse". My mom did not answer me for she no longer knew what the clubhouse was.

You see my mom's life exists just staying alone. She has become a prisoner in her home since she refuses to participate in anything. My brother and I and her caregivers have all tried to have her mingle with other people. Mom sadly has no interest to do anything. This is not her speaking , but her disease. My mom use to love to be with people and it has been several years since she has done that, so unfortunately she has become so inactive that it is quite difficult to get her to do anything. When we do take her out which we try most days, Ruthie does not want to leave her safe haven. As soon as we do get her out she only wants to return back home.

It use to upset me greatly and now I just seem to accept it. Would the socialization have helped my mom? I don't know, maybe?  What I do know is that through the years as I watch my mom get progressively worse, at least she has seemed happy. I have been thankful for this and only hope that through all the love I share each day with my mom that somewhere in her heart she still can feel/remember it. I have this yearning to just scoop her up and hold her tight. Yes my mom is still very much my hero and I love her so.