Each day when I speak to my mom she usually stays on the phone for five to ten minutes, depending on whether she can concentrate or not. Some days we are able to enjoy the melodies that we sing together, or have our spelling bee's, that mom surprisingly is still very good at.
One day this week my mom did not want to get off the phone as she entusicastically rambled on. This has not happened for quite some time. She sounded alive and upbeat, yet what she described no longer exists in her world . As we shared different sentiments mom laughed out loud and seemed to be really enjoying herself.
She was amazed at how old she was, and thought that she looked much younger. Several times she said she did not want to remember her age. She felt young and hearing how old she was meant that she could soon die. Nothing she spoke about came from any dark corners and all her stories that she chatted about, were upbeat and filled with humor. Even more they seemed to make sense.
Mom kept telling me that it was a very long time since she saw her parents, explaining that this is because they do not live nearby. She was surprised and wondered if I could believe that she could not remember their faces. I tried to tell her that they were no longer alive, and if they were, they would be at least 125 years old. She passed right over what I said, and continued to delight herself with her repartee.
In between all her syllables she would question me where I now live. Of course, I continuously said New York and when I asked where she lived, she giggled and answered that she lived in her "home". She remembered growing up in New York and some other parts of the city.
Mom was really having a jolly good time. I enjoyed her aliveness and how delightful she was sounding. My husband thought that she sounded a little manic, yet I on the contrary believe that she was having glimpses of her life, and memories of her childhood. The images were firing so quickly in her brain that she just had to say anything that flashed through her mind.
Mom was alive today in a different way, from what her life normally sounds like. She was jovial and filled with enormous energy . Most Alzheimer patients cannot share what they are feeling or thinking because the feeling and thoughts quickly disappear, like the wave of a wand. Today my mom's memory blanket was fully charged. She knew that she had two children and named me as well as my brother.
She asked me several times when I was coming to visit, insisting that New York and Florida were next to one another . She was sure that if I looked into it I would also discover the closeness of these two states. I shared with her that we were having a snow storm and she asked me to remain inside, so I would be safe. She was surprised that she had no snow, not fully understanding the difference of climates from Florida to New York.
With all this said she took my breath away, and I then reflected on how mom could no longer do the simple things in her life. She would no longer take a shower on her own, nor brush her teeth, nor put on clean fresh clothes. She cannot work a microwave, the stove, or her washing machine. She does not know how to dial the telephone,and when she removes food from her freezer she leaves it out all night, only to be thrown out in the morning hours by her caregiver.
Her life is not the same and all her precious memories have disappeared. Yet on most days mom's enthusiasm and cheerfulness emanates from her. She appears to love and appreciate just being alive. Some of us can take a day for granted, yet she seems to own that each day is truly a gift. I say this because although she cannot recall much, she repeats many times, that if we have our health nothing else matters.
This special lady who stands under five feet tall lights up my life and inspires me each day with her strength and courage. Everything that she described today was from a very long time ago. A life that once was, and to mom, seems not to have existed at all. What I hope for is that whatever happens in my life, I too, can feel love and appreciate just being alive.