My Mom's Eyes....
My mom has Alzheimer's.
In a way that is all there is to be said about that. And yet, it seems I have so much to say about it. I am learning there is so many things about Alzheimer's I had no idea about. Not so much about the disease itself within the brain; rather, how this disease creates slow, and at times, fast, dissolving of a person. And the effects on loved ones.
What I do know is Alzheimer's robs you of a chance to make things right. To allow both parties to say their sorrys and to ask the questions wondered all these years but the business of life had stalled the asking. It robs of current stories and giggles wanting to be shared. Alzheimer's takes away the possibility of having a new shared experienced create a new memory. It robs me the excitement of sharing my grandchildren with my mom, and for that I will never find forgiveness.
New experiences for my mom with Alzheimer's blows away like a puff of smoke in the wind. Alzheimer's is not kind nor choosy. It simply follows the path allowed for within the person afflicted. It wraps itself what it can and winds down and around the path it can. The path of least resistance. If only the person afflicted was able to resist.
I am certain my mom knew she was having trouble with recall several years ago. I remember now when she would re-ask questions about an upcoming occasion. I remember her wanting to get the dates 'again' so she could write them down in her datebook. She stopped reading books and sharing articles on this or that. I watched as she spoke less and less in public to new people and spoke endlessly about those she knew in high school; including my dad who was divorced from my mom over 35 years and had passed away. I was always uncomfortable with her discussing my dad with my stepdad listening in. It was quizzical for me to have her drone on as if she and my dad were still married. I asked her to stop...and not in the nicest way either. "Mom! Stop talking about being married to dad! Your husband is right here having to listen to you go on and on. Please stop it!" She stopped and looked directly at me only it felt more like right through me. It was then I saw something shift in her eyes. She looked distant and aloof. It lasted mere seconds and she was back. But it was right there...the first clue into her changing brain with Alzheimer's. It showed up in her beautiful eyes.
Much time has come and gone since I first saw Alzheimer's in my mom's eyes. She comes and goes with her memory and with who she was without Alzheimer's...and time is filled with more of who she is with Alzheimer's. As a family we have become less clunky with our navigating this disease. We still trip and bump into each other trying to help, but we all share an end goal: To create comfort for someone whose end will include not knowing if it was or wasn't...but we will know.
I hope this isn't taken out of context...but I don't want to be like my mom. I absolutely do not want to become filled with repeated questions, not knowing what day, time or year it is. I do not want to wonder who people are or become agitated over someone trying to help me. I do not want to lose the opportunities to say I love you or I am sorry. With Alzheimer's there is no do overs.
And I will always remember her eyes. They are beautiful. They are filled with grit, grace and now guesses.
We will celebrate Mother's Day this year. And I will answer her same questions over and over with love and practiced patience. Because with Alzheimer's there are no do overs.