Kills me to think that she was asking for help, but the truth was I was afraid, for she was the one who always took care. Sure I’d been prepared for a grown-up life, but hey, I still needed the comfort of Mommy! You see that’s what she provided, comfort. My Mommy was like a landing strip for a weary traveler. Offering a respite, refueling, food and lodging if needed. Not just for her family but for everyone. Now. Let me just interject that if you know, or have known of such a place, go there while you still have the chance and say “thank you.” For I shall never forget the pain of landing, nor the blank stare I met, nor the realization that Mommy doesn’t live here anymore!
No, my mommy didn’t live there anymore but where did she go? Sad to say but Alzheimer’s doesn’t leave a forwarding address. It, not unlike a thief in the night, slowly but surely chips away at you, packing your belongings up and moving you right out from under you own nose.
Leaving no clues to those you’ve left behind as to where you’ve gone. Alzheimer’s ranks high on my list right before Cancer of the things I never wanted to know about. But since I’ve been forced to learn, let me share with you what I know so far; Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder named for the German physician Alois Alzheimer, who first described it in 1906. It is reported that more than 5 million Americans now have Alzheimer’s. Although symptoms can vary widely, the first problem many people notice is short term forgetfulness. It gets worse over time. As the disease progresses, other symptoms include confusion, and trouble with organizing. Expressing one’s thoughts becomes difficult, you began to misplacing things and often get lost in familiar places. As if all this is not enough, to date Alzheimer’s has no cure. Oh, treatments for the symptoms combined with support can make life better for the millions of Americans living with Alzheimer’s- but it does nothing for those of us who are left with the painful realization that Mommy or Daddy doesn’t live there anymore.
For me it has been like a long Summer day. Basking in it’s warmth while losing light so subtlety till you don’t see it leaving- simply looking up to realize that you are in darkness. And still it is bitter sweet, for it forces me to remember. Not only all that she has forgotten but, to be thankful for what remains...
November is Alzheimer's Awareness Month. Sadly my mother passed on October 7th 2009. After an eleven year journey with my mommy and Alzheimer’s, this is what I know so far: Alzheimer’s albeit a cruel teacher, was a good one.
The most important lesson taught was that if you don’t hold your loved one hostage to the relationship that you are comfortable with, then everyday you can meet them in amazing new places. You must let them lead the way, but I promise you, it’s okay to follow.
The most important lesson learned was “cherish the day” grieving not what is lost, rather embracing what is left.