Friday, November 30, 2012



I was not planning to write a post this week because I will be on a plane going to see my mom. Yet I found that several conversation's that she and I shared, left me with many different emotions. One day it put a big smile on my face, and the next day I was left feeling rather crushed .

Day 1-  I heard mom's caregiver say to her, "Lisa ,your daughter is on the phone." With surprise in mom's voice I heard her say "my daughter?" As if she never hears from me , yet every morning at the same time I phone her to say hello.

Mom gets on the phone with "hi sweetie." "Hi mom, guess what is happening in 5 days?" Ruthie answers with,"I don't know." " I am coming to visit you." I then hear her say,"How old are you?"  "I am exactly 25 years younger then you." "Well, I do not know how old I am."

"Mom would you like to guess?" Mom vibrantly expresses her feelings saying "I do not care how old I am, as long as I'm Healthy, Wealthy & Wise." I delightfully answer,  "mom you are certainly all those things," as I can envision her beaming face.

She then wonders if I will be keeping my name. "Of course mom, I really like the name you gave me, why wouldn't I keep it ?" I could hear in her voice that at this moment, she did not even know that she had a child , no less named me. " What is your name?" "My name is Lisa," and with that mom burst out laughing. I wonder what is so funny as she remarks,"nothing," and continues to explain to me that she has a problem trying to remember names.

Next question to me is,"where do I live?" "I live in New York." She continues to tell me that she likes me, and all I really want to know from her, is "do you love me?" "Of course I love you." as she hangs up the phone.

Since I will be visiting in less then a week, I ask mom how many days there are in a week. I received three different answers depending on which day I asked ;16 days, 10 days and once she had a lucky guess of 7 days. Or maybe her memory was working at that moment.

Day 2- When Ruthie got on the phone I wondered if she knew who I was, so I presented the question to her. With an uncertainty in her voice she responded with " are you my mother? my friend?my relative? do I even know you?" As my heart sank I answered,"yes mom you know me. I am your daughter."

She quickly apologized, that if she does not sound good at moments, it's because of her memory, and that she'd like me to know that she loves me. As she spoke those words I felt like I would melt, while at the same time I was feeling like my heart could break in two.

How can this be, how can my mom not remember me? How can Alzheimer's rob her of what was once her world ? I could never imagine not knowing who my son was. The thought of not knowing Logan one day truly terrifies me.

I know that mom is starting to loose more of her memory, yet she has also been doing very well for several weeks. She sounds good and in such a strange way she is quite aware. I do have to admit that her answers at moments would frighten or upset some people, yet for me I try to appreciate and be thankful for what we still can share.

I will not allow Alzheimer's to destroy the love, bond and relationship that my mom and I now have. Yes, my mom is different today, yet she still is my mother. I feel so much love,admiration and affection for her, like my cup can surely "runneth" over.

Friday, November 23, 2012



This was probably the third to last trip when mom was still able to come and visit us in New York. It seems like yesterday or maybe more like many moons ago. We all seem quite happy in this picture, although I know that back then mom and I certainly had our moments of not getting along. We would quibble over silly little things. That was then and this is now.

Today mom is my hero and my love for her is indescribable. She can really light up my life with her sounds of joy and laughter, that resonates from her. Since we just celebrated Thanksgiving I feel that it is a great time to reflect. Reflect on all that we have and all that we should be grateful for.

I do remember mom coming to spend Thanksgiving with us probably six years ago, and for a lady who is always chilled to the bone, she packed summer clothes as she traveled to New York during the winter. I was shocked and could not understand why she did not bring any of her heavier clothes nor a sweater or two. What was she thinking? As I now look back, I see that I was certainly in denial. Did I think something was wrong with my mom? Did I question why would she pack that way? Not really, I just thought that it was strange.

After mom became ill with Alzheimer's there was a major shift in our relationship, and all that I was left with was the declaration of my love for her . Ruthie had no idea that anything had changed. Yet for me I was able to love and appreciate the mom that I was never sure I had.

It is now a little more than a week until I will be visiting her. I am feeling so excited and I am also feeling a bit uneasy. Just today she was surprised that I was married and especially for thirty years. Mom declared that I was too young to be married. I do like the" young" part. Nor was she able to celebrate that her grandson had just turned twenty five. One day she was surprised that she had a grandson, and the next day she requested that I buy him a "nice" gift from her.

When I wished her a wonderful Thanksgiving and told her that she would be feasting on turkey ,stuffing and yams, she did not sound overjoyed. Thanksgiving was always a holiday that she loved to celebrate with her family. Yet when she saw the Thanksgiving parade on the television, she did say to Elaine her caregiver, that she remembered seeing it many years ago.

When I wanted to know if she had a nice day the day before, her answer was "I guess so , I don't even remember it but I'm sure that it was nice." When Trudy, Elaine's daughter, told mom to speak to Lisa when I phoned, mom wanted to know who Lisa was. I'm not certain of how mom will be when I do arrive, although she has been blessed with several exceptional weeks.

Regardless of what she might know or understand at any given  moment, I am certain that even my mom would say that she is grateful for everything that she has. She would delight in having children, a grandchild, and she would be sure to tell me that we were all so fortunate to have our health.

Mom did bring me up to appreciate all that I had. She encouraged me to be whatever I dreamed of and to celebrate being alive. As a child and teenager I did not fully appreciate everything that I was or what I had, yet from both my parents encouragement, I have fortunately grown up to be grateful, and have learned to appreciate all that I have.

So mom I like to toast you and your life, and share with you how grateful I am that you are my mother. With all the love in my heart that I now feel for you, you have inspired me with your strength and courage, and because of you I can celebrate being grateful.

I would love to take this moment and wish everyone a truly wonderful Thanksgiving and hope that we can all be thankful for what we have.


Friday, November 16, 2012



I'm thrilled that mom still is able to be aware of where she was born and where she once lived. On some days she is confused with which state is the correct one. Sometimes she is so confident that she resides in New York, and at other times she is aware that she now lives in Florida.

The confusion occurs on most days when she asks me when I am coming to visit. It is now seventeen days till my husband and I will arrive at mom's doorstep. She always want to know why I cannot come sooner. My answers are always the same. So at those moments when she questions my timetable, it is also when she might insist that she lives in New York. She wonders how long it will take for me to come over. My answer is that it depends on how I travel ; "by plane 3 1/2 hours and driving at least 2 days." "Wow," mom says, as if she understands.

I shared with her that my husband will be joining me on my visit. Mom really let out quite a chuckle, and when I questioned what was so funny, she responded that she didn't know, except that she found it rather funny. It didn't matter just hearing the sounds of her laughter thrilled me.

 Before ending our daily phone call I requested from her to throw me my precious kisses. I shared that when I arrived, I would be able to place my "real" kisses right on her cheek. "Great", mom exploded with enthusiasm ,"I can hardly wait."

As we practice her counting abilities, I have been using the days till I arrive as a game. In the beginning of the week when I said that I would be coming in 3 weeks; and explained there are seven days in a week, she quickly said 7 x 3 is twenty one. It was astonishing to me that she was able to do the mathematics in her head and so quickly. So why can she spell, count and add numbers, yet she cannot remember what she did seconds before, or what she just ate?

I have noticed that as my trip gets closer that I have been feeling a bit more sentimental as we speak
about our love for one another. As mom has expressed to me how much she misses me and really does love me, I get teary eyed, as I return all my love to her.  I'm not sure why I feel this way, except I realized how very much I do miss her.

 I wish that we lived closer to one another, and wish that I could use a magic wand, and have her Alzheimer's simply disappear. I know this is not reality, yet I sure can dream.  It's amazing how the words of love that we now can share, were hardly present before she became ill.

Living in two different states, one in New York and one in Florida, may keep us apart, yet our closeness and intimate love, I know will always remain close to both of our hearts.

Friday, November 9, 2012



I found myself intrigued this week with my phone calls to my mom. They were filled with much affection and some bursts of laughter . They were also lighthearted, as well as sentimental, except for  the one day which mom had a "substitute"caregiver.

Elaine and Trudy had something special to do for a day, and they could not bring my mom along as they usually do. They replaced themselves with a family friend. She seemed to be quite kind, caring and attentive to mom. Yet if mom could share what she was thinking, I think it would be a little different ; she seemed baffled and confused. Maybe in some ways she also felt abandoned, although she said nothing.

Mom was quite sharp, somewhat feisty and filled with lots of energy. Yet as we spoke she also sounded a little annoyed at the situation. Somehow we got into the conversation about her children and how many she gave birth to. She insisted that she had many. I questioned her on" how many is many?" Her reply was " too many to count."  "Okay mom, how many children did you want?" She replied "none."" I then asked if she had a choice on sexes, what would she have wanted. She quickly answered,"boys and girls, one of each." That was good because that is exactly what mom did have."Well mom how many girls do you have ?" "One." My final question on this subject was, "and how many boy's do you have?" and she answered "ten."

I really could not stop laughing for she was as serious as could be. If mom sounded delusional, I'm certain that this conversation would have greatly upset me .Yet not this day, for mom did not sound lost or confused. She sounded rather strong and filled with conviction. I guess I could say like my "old" mom.

The following day when Trudy returned in the morning, mom greeted her at her front door, by giving her a big hello and saying how nice it was to see her. I'm sure that mom was once again feeling safe and secure, for when I spoke to her, she told me that she was feeling" very good ." "That's great for I am feeling the same." Mom then said "if you're feeling good, and I'm feeling good, then it's a really good day."

As she brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart, I knew that once again, mom could hear the sound of birds singing. I could tell that she felt a sense of security, and the affection from her caregivers.

My brother and and I are so fortunate to have such wonderful caregivers,who take such special care of Ruthie. I do not know what we would do without them. They have become her lifelines.

For all the families that have a parent,spouse or grandparent with Alzheimer's, we all in one way or another become their caregivers. This is not an easy thing to be, and at moments are hearts can feel broken. Hopefully at other times, we can find some happiness in what we have left to share with them.

This for me is how I choose to live. I cherish the time that I still have left to share with her. If I once again quote my mom, she would say "that today for her was a REALLY good day."

I am adding onto my blog post a conversation my brother had with mom the day after election day. It is so precious, and I hope that it will put a big smile on you face as it did for me.

Wed am
G: Mom, we elected a president last nite

Mom: A president?

G: Yes

M: Who? Roosevelt?

G: no mom, not Roosevelt

M: who

G: Barack Obama

M: Barack Obama? What kind of crazy name is that?. I never heard of him.
Write it down for me so I can remember it

G: OK Mom, have a great day

Friday, November 2, 2012



Needless to say that this week because of Hurricane Sandy parts of New York and New Jersey have been devasted. Many people have no power, the city lost it's mass transit and the airports have been closed. Some homes have gone up in flames and the coastlines have been sadly ripped to pieces.  Myself and my family thankfully, are safe and sound.

I tried to share all these events that were happening with my mother. When I spoke to her about Coney Island(located in Brooklyn, NY) and questioned if she remembered it, mom's answer was "of course I remember Coney Island, that is where I grew up." She then delightfully sang a song about the boardwalks of Atlantic City. The next time I tried to to share with her about the subways, the buses and the airports, she nonchalantly said she was getting off the phone, as if nothing had else mattered.

Mom has her days where right after we says hello, she immediately then says goodbye.This was one of those days. I'm not sure why she does this, and there are the other moments she enjoys our girlish chit-chats.

It's not that mom does not care ,and especially about her own home town, it's because of Alzheimer's, that nothing I said had registered. Honestly, although mom can spell the word hurricane, I am sure that she has no idea of what a hurricane is.

Mom only wanted to know when I would be coming to visit. That was all she seemed to care about. I excitedly said in 4 1/2 weeks, and continued with how lucky I was that I did not have my plane ticket for this week. Again she did not understand. She responded by saying, "why not, you can come anytime you like, the sooner the better." "No mom the airplanes are not flying where I live." She repeated how she wanted me to get on some other plane. I probably should have just said I would try, since I understand that she will never remember.

My husband will be joining me on my visit to see mom. The picture above is from last December when we were at her home in Florida. That week was especially difficult for she was not able to understand most anything we said and she was quite confused. Mom's wires were disconnected.
The last several weeks she has been having some rather good days. Hopefully when we arrive she will still be "with it."

When I visit mom it is quite different then when we speak on the phone. Seeing her in person can be  stressful and heartbreaking. I get to see all the ways that she has no idea what to do, like brushing her teeth,combing her hair and flushing a toilet. She gets confused about where her bathroom or bedroom is located, in a home that she has lived in for over twenty five years.  This makes her illness so much more real for me, and puts a different perspective on things.

The other parts of spending time with mom are very special. The moments we have together of just holding  hands, laughing, helping her dress, and making her lunch, are special times that I get to take care of her, as she once did for me. I for a short period of time become her lifeline. In many ways our rolls have reversed ,and that's okay because embedded in my heart ,she is and will always be my mother.

As our daily phone calls come to an end I still can count on her to say, "when are you coming to visit?" Today and always I will cherish those words.