INTERVIEWING MY MOM WITH ALZHEIMER'S
I recently watched the powerful documentary Glen Campbell’s-“I’ll Be Me”. It left me with a feeling of respect, as well as pain for his family. Since my own mother has Alzheimer’s for the last twelve years, I completely understand for I have been walking down a similar path. The film also reminded me of something I had written in September 2012, which was a conversation that I had with my mother.
On one of my many visits to Florida to see mom, I had decided that I wanted to interview her. The way she responded touched my heart in a deep profound way. I would love to share this with you.
"Mom, what does it feel like not to be able to remember something?” She responded, "It’s not always so bad not to remember everything.”
Several years earlier I had presented a similar question to her, where her answer was quite touching. Mom said “I know that whatever happened yesterday to me had to be nice, whether I can remember it or not.” Through the years that mom has Alzheimer’s there certainly have been moments when she becomes her own Buddha.
I never fear asking her any questions, for I know that immediately everything disappears from her memory. Since this disease runs in my family when I forget simple things I am quite aware of it. It’s funny because I never think about getting cancer for my mom has been cancer free. Yet when it comes to Alzheimer’s I do kid around about it, yet deep inside the question still remains.
Back to my past interview: I continue with," mom is all this scary to you?” Her quick reply is "no it's not scary because if you cannot remember something, you just don't remember it.” With wisdom mom was able to answer so easily.
She then started to reminisce about her own mother and growing up in Williamsburg and Coney Island, Brooklyn."Mom do you remember your mother's name?” “Of course, it was Pauline Schnitzer.” "Mom, what's your name?” "Ruth Schnitzer,” and "what was your father's name?” She simply says, "I cannot remember.” With sadness I say his name was Louie.
I wonder if she knows my father’s name. Better yet does she remember him? How could she not for they were married for fifty years. She has to, it's my dad! She does not remember.
"Mom how many brother's or sister's do you have?” “I have both a brother and a sister,” she answers. No mom, I say to myself, you had only one younger brother who died from Alzheimer's. I decided to lighten up and move away from this conversation.
I have been back home for almost a week now and each day that I speak to her she seems to have some recollection that I was there. Mom said that when she woke up she was looking all over her home for me, and could not find me. It saddened me that we live so far apart. It makes my heart ache. So, do I jump on a plane and run back to her?
I often wonder how this little lady who stands only 4 feet ten inches can melt my heart in such a way that I cannot contain my love for her.
This interview took place when mom was still living at home. Since writing this in 2012 so much has changed. Mom has been living in a nursing home for almost three years. She still speaks about her parents and most of the time does not know my name.
Most of her memory is gone yet, on a more positive note, she is still mobile and able to speak. For this I am quite grateful.