Friday, June 29, 2012



"Hi mom how are you"? "Lisa is that you"? "Yes mom it's your beautiful daughter calling her favorite mom to see how you are doing". "Lisa, when are you coming to see me"? "Mom( I fib) I'll be coming in four weeks". "Mom replied, "that's great because I really miss you".

I feel a pang in my heart because I know that I will not be returning to see my mom for several months.  I can get away with this white lie, because Ruthie has no recollection of what I just said, and even more when I lasted visited . Actually my mom, cannot remember anything anymore. "Mom, I live too far away and I was just at your home six weeks ago". "I really do not remember", she answers, "it feels like a very long time ago".

"Well mom you do have a special person coming to visit you today".  "Who"? she askes. "Your son Gil is coming to visit with his girlfriend". Mom tweets in with "Gil has a girlfriend"? Yes mom and we both met her when I visited six weeks ago. "What is his girlfriends name"? "Her name in Rochelle and she's very nice". I then mention to her that they will be coming with their two dogs. "Why"?  "Mom,because the dogs want to visit you also". "Please be careful that you do not step on them". We both find this quite funny and start to giggle.

"Mom would you like to come and visit me in New York"? "No not now", she replies, as she goes on to describe how she use to live here many years ago.  She remembers looking out the window and watching as things went by. "Well mom I remember you and I going to the museums, the theatre,the top of the Empire State Building, and taking the buses and subways all over". "Lisa, I did that?  I do not remember for it was so long ago". "I do mom, and I also remember how much you enjoyed yourself ".

Unfortuantely if she did these things earlier today, she still would not remember anything. This is what Alzheimer's has done to her. Her mind once filled with beautiful visions, has now become a blank canvas.  A lifetime of her memories all have disappeared.

"Mom, I love you ,I'll speak to you later".  "Okey dokey", she says and answers with," I love you even more".

I have just approached the Alzheimer's Association offices in the city.  I am here for a meeting to get involved with  a project to help spread awareness with them for September is Alzheimer's Month . We want to paint the town purple, and to spread our word for all to hear.

It's strange how I hung up with my mom, the very moment that I approached the entrance to their office's.  As I entered I has such a huge smile across my face and felt my heart filled with much love. I realized how almost everyday when I speak to my mom I am able to have these silly, touching and funny conversations with her. Conversations that at that time make little sense, yet they make us both really have fun and laugh aloud.  A laugh deep from our hearts and one that fills us with much pleasure and joy.

My mom probably forgets immediately what we just shared, yet for me I walk away with so much warmth as she  adds a big smile to my face. When my mom was free of this diseaese these light hearted fun converstaion did not exist. I was too busy wanting to get off the phone and now every time that I speak to her I hang up with feelings of so much love and happiness.

As strange as it sounds, there for me is much joy in whatever time we still have together, for this special lady, can really make me smile.

Saturday, June 23, 2012



On most days when I speak to my mom, we are unable to have any continuous conversations, so I find that I repeat many of the same things.  I'll share with her about my day and what I might have done the day before.  Thankfully we are still are able to laugh and have some fun.  I can always tell from her voice how perky she is, and if she will want to stay on the phone with me, or rush me off. When I see how she is, I can quickly decide if we should have our spelling bee, or perhaps sing some songs.  She usually enjoys engaging in either one.

For this I am still so fortunate.  When she does answer me with something that makes absolutely no sense, I answer as if it did.  You see I know as her disease progresses, that there will probably be a time, when my mom will no longer be able to speak.

Almost everyday when I do question her, she always has the very same answer.  She will say that she cannot remember anything as I always chirp in, "mom do you remember how much I love you"? "Of course I do".  Well mom, you see you do remember the important things".  Yet this week, she took me by surprise when she spoke these words, "isn't that strange, I cannot remember anything".  As if this was something brand new for her, that just took place.  My mom who has Alzheimer's, for at least eight years, has not been able to remember anything for quite some time now.

She seemed to quickly change the subject and said "there are days we feel good and day's that we don't feel so good". "Yes, mom that is certainly true".  As I tried to lighten the conversation, I then said "mom, are you a princess for the day"? Mom giggled and humorously replied  "if I find a prince then I can be the princess".  I smiled to myself, and thought how amazing it is, that in some ways she still can be so quick and sharp.

With all that is happening to her I never here her complain. I wonder at each moment, before she forgets what were her thoughts?  Does she realize what is happening to her?  Can she understand it all?  Probably not, although I do think that as she has these fleeting moments she does understand. This will always remain a mystery to me.  One that I will never know the answer to.

 In some ways the tables have turned, and although Ruthie is still and forever my mom, there are moments when I visit her, that she seems to be like a child.  So today and for always, my mom can and will remain for me, my one and only princess.

FACT- 5.4 Million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease.
Wonderful 2 minute film. Please watch.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


THE MOM I USE TO FIGHT WITH (flashback 3 years ago)

Today on the phone my mom seemed upset( this occurred three years ago).  I think she was quite aware of the hard time she was starting to have since she suffers from Alzheimer’s.   As I described her personality to my husband, I mentioned how she sounded to me like the "old" mom.  I heard once again the harshness in her voice.   The sweet, kind and nurturing one that she has been showing had disappeared.  It was the mom I had always experienced while growing up, a part of her that I never liked. 

It was a part of her personality that at moments could show up in me.  This was where our personalities had clashed.  This was where we did not seem to get along.  This was part of her personality of being tough, and never letting anyone take advantage of her.  At times these aspects could also be a part of me.

Could it be that ,my mom who stood not quite 5 feet tall, did this to protect herself?  Or as I personally experienced myself, could something from her childhood have caused her to react this way?
Back to the present

This week after my mom and I had one of our many conversations, I hung up and wondered if  she would have been as sweet as she is today, would I have also been as loving as I now am to her .

Today and each day that I speak to her I tell her how very much I love her, and how special she is to me.  She always seems to thank me for what I just said . What would it have been like if I would have understood and loved her in the same way when I was a child?  Would my mom have been as sweet and gentle with me as she is now? Would we have had an entirely different relationship? Was it me or was it both of us?

Why did it take my mom's illness for her to be able show how very sweet she is, and for me to love her as deeply as I do.

Can you only imagine how I now feel, when my mom thanks me, for all the kind words that I shower upon her.  All that I am left to say is "mom if I didn't mean everything I just said, I would never say it".

I guess as the expression goes that it is never too late to fall in love, except this is not with a man this is with my own mother.  My mother who in her later years of life, as she suffers from Alzheimer's has been able to shine with all the love she has to give. This lady who I use to fight with no longer exists.

For me there appears to be some silver lining behind this awful disease. Maybe my mom has no recollection of her past, and at times can be confused, yet the one thing she never seems to forget is to show me  all her love. 

My heart has opened up for her with such love and joy, that I can now celebrate each day that we have left. Alzheimer's is a tragic disease, yet in some strange way, it has returned to me my mom, the one I now call my hero.

Together we all need to spread and raise awareness about Alzheimer's.

Saturday, June 9, 2012



She's only a pint size lady standing four feet nine inches tall, yet she has become to me a shining star in my life.  On most days when I phone her I feel such joy just to be able to speak to her. This week was a little of a downer for me, because I foolishly left my water faucet on in my bathroom.  Of course, I did not realize it.  Is it possible that I am also getting Alzheimer's ?  My building had shut off the water, as they do once a year, to clean the out water tanks.  I  had gone out for several hours and when I returned, I found a flood that has taken over a week to clean up.

I tried sharing this with my mom who didn't truly understand everything , although I must admit she did try to comfort me.  I felt so careless and stupid, that I really just wanted her to tell me that everything will be okay. I realized that it was no big deal, except I did carry  around with me a heaviness that lasted most of the week. Mom's wisdom was able to shine through, as she told me that as long as we have our health, that was all that was important.

When I phoned the next day, Elaine her cargiver said "your daughter Lisa is on the phone".  I heard my mom sound surprised that I was calling.  I asked her why she sounded surprised, and Ruthie's answer was," I hardly hear from you". I laughed and my response was, "Mom I call you everyday". Ruthie then replied, "I truly do not remember, but I still do love you".  I then answered, "I love you too". She then said "we have no contest about who loves each other more".  She continued with her words of wisdom, saying that the only thing that really matters is that we have our health .

Mom has been doing so well lately and I am starting to believe, that the coconut oil that she is given every morning by Elaine is working.  You see I have no other explanation for what seems to be stablizing her with her Alzheimer's disease.  She has no memory left, yet somehow she seems better.

Not only has she been so aware and sharp she has been also talking up a storm.  Since I have returned from visiting her (which is almost a month)  she continues to question me about when I will coming to see her . She now wants to know how long I will be staying. My answer is for one week, and her response is that it would be nice if I can stay longer. "Mom, I won't be able to stay longer, since I am coming with my husband, and he needs to get back to work".  She then tries to convince me that I should come first, and he can come later.  I make light of it by saying "are you asking me to move in with you" ?  As usual we both giggle.

My mom only has one grandson who she adores. I'm not sure how much she remembers, because she is always surprised about everything. I constantly tell her where he works, lives and how tall he is .  She still thinks that he is a young child.  I know that on most days she does not know his name, for she will question me about how my children are doing. "Mom, I say, I only have one child". Ruthie seems to be surprised.

Today I explained how this week the weather in New York has been irrational. That one day it's fifty degress and that the following day it's eighty degrees.  She immediately said "wow thirty degrees is a big difference".  I was delighted that she was able to figure that out, and so quickly.  It showed me for the moment that her mind had clarity.  

To me my mom is an amazing lady who adds much joy to my life.  It's so important to me while I can, to frolic in the joy she can bring.  I do not know where Alzheimer's will be taking her.  So for now our journey together will hopefully be filled with many bright days. I somehow consider myself  to be one of the lucky ones.  During these last several years my mom's disease has helped me get in touch with the deep love I have for her.

Smiles, laughter and joy can make anyone feel good.  It certainly can place a smile in your heart and one on your face.  My mom has become  my shining star.  We all seem to have choices in our lives, and for me, I choose to stay grateful for all that my mom has left, before she slips away.