SWEET, LOVE & TENDERNESS
Two days ago my husband and I returned from visiting my mother, and each morning when I have spoken to her she has no memory of our visit. As I reflect back on the five days that I spent with her, I can still feel the warmth of her smiles, laughter and joy as we held hands, embraced and told each other how much we loved one another.
Some moments I was her daughter, and other times I was her relative. Mom tried to explain that if she said she was my relative then she was "safe". I understood completely what she was saying and smiled at her cleverness.
When I first arrived in Florida and was on route to see her, I wiped away some tears as I felt at the same moment both excited and fearful. I had recently hung up the phone with her and she questioned me, what was my name. I had a feeling of uncertainty of how mom would be when we reached her.
As I entered her home mom was singing and her first words to me were "oh you came to visit me, I was not sure that you were coming." She repeated my name which seemed like every other second. The sound of hearing her saying my name was like an unchained melody that I just loved to hear. With such a sweet and delightful voice she was thrilled to tell us that "her family" was now with her.
Within the hour mom only wanted to get into her bed for she was feeling sleepy. She invited me to join her, and as I sat in a chair in her bedroom, she would not allow herself to slip into dreamland. Instead, she just wanted me to reassure her that I was still with her. I wonder if she was fearful that if she fell asleep, that when she awoke, I would no longer be with her. All she wanted to do was to keep speaking and have me reassure her that I was still with her. At this moment sleep for her seemed so far away.
Mom was feeling overly warm so I helped her remove her cardigan. With much affection our roles were now switched, as I became the mother, and she became my child. Mom did not know what room she was in, or what other rooms were beyond her doorway. As I described her home of twenty six years, she was confused and at moments asked of me to take her home. At this moment her world seemed to be slipping away. Night became day and day became night.
The following day felt like a miracle. It was truly a golden day. The sentiments that she shared with me from "do you love me like I love you?" and as we embraced she whispered in my ear "you're the best in the world,"which only broke my heart in two. It was moments like these that I just melted and my heart was filled with an eternal love.
A love so strong that all I could do was cry tears of happiness, as I now wondered how many years I wasted on not loving my mom completely. This for me truly was a special and warm enduring day that will forever remain embedded in my heart and soul .
The following day mom couldn't even find the light switch in her bathroom to turn off the light that she only seconds before had turned on. I watched the Alzheimer's come and go, for at some moments she could spell and her mind was quick and filled with a sharpness as she shared her thoughts with us. Then there were the other times that she was mixed up with her vocabulary and thinking, and I knew that it was not my mom speaking, it was the disease.
What else can I say other than that I find my mom to be so courageous. She is filled with a spirit that Alzheimer's has not yet been able to rob from her. I do at moments wonder what is left of her life. A life that has truly disappeared and a world that she once lived in that no longer exists. Yet for me, I must celebrate the special part that we can still share.
This part of her world is the one where she still knows me and is able to express all her love for me. It is a world diminshed yet for me a world that I will never forget. I only want to imagine a world one day without Alzheimer's. A world free of this horrific disease.