Monday, May 28, 2012
SO SWEET AND TENDER
Since my last visit my mom has been asking me almost everyday when I will be coming to see her. The truth is that I will not be returning for at least three to four months. Yet I do not share these thoughts with her. This time when my mom asked when would I be coming, my answer was within a few weeks. She replied, "what does a few weeks mean"? I quickly answered her by saying I would be visiting in four weeks, although I knew this was not true. She then whispered so sweet and tender, "that's good for four weeks is pretty soon". Ruthie, my mom did like my answer, and I had no fear that she could remember and hold me to this time frame.
Of course there is some sadness that I did not tell her the truth, and even more that we live in different states. How special it would be if I could see her at least once a week as my brother is able to do.
My mom said that she remembered that I was at her home, yet she could not say, when or for how many days I visited. I knew from her caregivers that for the first week she walked around calling my name and looking for me.
We continued our phone call and I had Ruthie spelling from A-Z using countries, cities and states. I started off with Arizona, then Barcelona, Connecticut and onward. When I asked her to spell New York, and when I reached San Francisco, she started to sing the lyrics to "New York, New York" and " I Left My Heart in San Francisco". These songs have become familiar to most of us, like national anthems.
When mom did not understand my pronunciation of some words that I asked her to spell, she sharply told me to speak English. She made me laugh and I did feel joyous for she sounded aware and alert. She was into our spelling game and scored a ninety five for her almost perfection.
If my mom did not have Alzheimer's, and she said what she said to me, I might have felt annoyed. Although now it is quite different. As far as I am concerned, my mom can do no wrong. I just seem to appreciate and cherish every word that comes from her lips.
On this particular day she was as sharp as a tack and filled with much clarity. I once again wondered if it's all the coconut oil that my brother has her caregivers give her each day. He read an article about it and believed it might work, so he immediately bought it for her. At this point I certainly do not mind the things he tries. Some things might be worth trying. No one really knows.
I ended our phone call with telling her how much I loved her and said, "mom I wish that I lived close to you". Ruthie answered, "me too, and who knows maybe one day we will". With a smile and a wish I whispered back to her "mom wouldn't that really be nice".
Her sweetness and tenderness have me miss her so. My mom's strength and courage has inspired me. She has become my hero. My love and appreciation for who she is just amazing. Alzheimer's may have stolen her memory, yet Alzheimer's cannot steal all the love I feel for her.
I also feel the love she has for me, and I am sure that she still can remember how very much I do love her. Tomorrow when I awake, although I will not be able to see her, I will still be able to pick up my phone and hear her sweet and tender words. For this I am quite grateful.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US
It's amazing to me that three days before my visit to see my mom, she asked me each time that I called, when would I be coming to visit. I knew in my heart that embedded somewhere in her memory she knew that I was coming to see her. Mom and I for the last two weeks had been counting backwards, till I would be arriving at her home. She sounded vibrant and filled with much aliveness and excitement. Maybe I was imagining all of this, which did not matter, for I could feel it in my heart and soul the same joy, as I awaited for my plane to take off.
My visit to my mom's house several days before Mother's Day left me with different emotions. While I was with her I felt much love, mixed with some pain and frustration. Although on a very upbeat note my mom was doing wonderful. At moments when she refused to brush her teeth or get dressed, I had to remind myself that her yelling at me, that she was not a child, was frustrating to both of us. I laughed, I cried and the love I felt towards her touched me deeply.
I witnessed her as she danced and shared the same story over and over again with my dear friend Alana, who came to visit us. Mom was especially vibrant and Alana described her as " both beautiful and spunky," this being the first time they met.
The following morning when my mom awoke I was lying on the floor while I did my daily excercises. The day before my mom assisted me as I had her count to one hundred, as I performed a pilates movement. Mom with much enthusiam that morning, was so excited to see me and immediately joined me and started to count to one hundred. As I layed on the towel, she then said, "seeing your face and having you here is both very comforting to me". I melted as she spoke those words. As I stood up to continue my routine she then asked "who is your mother"? With amazement I looked at her and said "mom, you are my mother and I love you deeply". Mom replied, "I love you also". I then asked her my name, and after her calling me Lisa for two days, at least a thousand times she said" it's on the tip of my tongue, although at this second I cannot remember it". Mom, I said "my name is Lisa".
After my return to New York, I shared with my husband that my mom was filled with moments where she was so lucid, and then there were the other moments that seemed to come and go. Yet I felt quite grateful on how well she seemed to be doing. I guess I got lucky this trip because there have been other visits where my mom's Alzheimer's seemed to take control.
The next morning my mom sounded so excited to hear from me and I shared that I missed her counting for me as I exercised. Mom replied, "it's funny how you get use to doing something". "I guess so mom, although I really do miss you". As our phone call came to an end, my mom did ask "when will I see you"? I think to myself that I just left, yet I answer with "I'll see you in a couple of weeks". Mom then utters the words, "that's great because you know that I love seeing you".
As of this moment it is not the fact that my mom has Alzheimer's that upsets me, it's that I live so far away and do not have the opportunity to go and see her each day. Could it be that I miss her so much because today is Mother's Day? No, I know the answer to that. It is the fact that whatever day or time, the distance between us still remains the same.
Friday, May 4, 2012
DOES MY MOM WITH ALZHEIMER'S KNOW IT'S MOTHERS DAY ?
I'll be off to see my mom on Wednesday for Mother's Day. My flight leaves New York early in the morning. As I prepare myself for my trip I get flashes of all different memories and feelings. What will mom be like this time ? How much has her Alzheimer's caused her to disappear into her world ? Speaking to my mom each day is quite different than living with her. For the most part my conversations on the phone with my mom are great. Then of course there are those other moments. So actually being and living with mom for several days is quite different. My heart misses her and my stomach seems to churn both with excitement and nervousness.
During this week my emotions about my mother ran like a river with many inlets. Today's phone call left me feeling exhilarated, yet during the week after my mom had an episode of incontinence, I fell into an emotion of feeling quite sad and lost. Fortunately she was fine for the rest of the week, as her caregivers realized that they might have overloaded her with too much bran, since she had been constipated.
After that episode I was not able to shake the sadness that I seemed to carry with me for most of the day. I had felt that my mom was no longer whole and had become half a person. How could this be and now where was my mother's journey from Alzheimer's going ? What would be happening next ? I did not understand, and for the rest of the day, I walked around in a haze, with a lump in my throat and a pain in my heart. Each day when I called I was frightful, until I was reassured that my mother was doing just fine.
Today, I had so much joy I wanted to run to a mountain top and spread the words that my mom had just shared with me. She had such a softness and nurturing kindness to her voice. We at first spoke about all the people who she could not remember since most of them had moved away. Mom said that maybe if she was able to see them, then perhaps she would remember them. "Mom, I declared, I hope since I live so far away that you never will forget me". My mom answered with "how could I ever forget you". Then she explained that the most important thing is that we are all well. She continued to say that there was nothing more important than being healthy.
I changed the subject and told her that I would be seeing her in five days as I was coming to celebrate Mother's Day with her. My mom seemed to remember that I had promised to take her for an ice cream sundae. With delight in my voice, and shock that she could remember this, I shouted to her "absolutely". As our phone call was coming to end, my mom then uttered the sound of these words, "do you love me like I love you"? As my heart seemed to break in half, I answered with, "Mom, I love you even more than that". She then started to sing the words as we said our goodbyes.
With much love in my heart, I just wanted to place her last words to me and seal them in a bottle for me to open whenever I so desired to. I know that after we hung up, mom does not remember our conversation, nor does she even remember that I will be seeing her in five days. I know that she has no idea that it's Mother's Day. Yet I do, and for me my mom will always be that special mom, that for years before she became ill, I never even knew I had.
I would like to wish all the mom's, a very special Mother's Day.