i keep saying good-bye

IMG_0277_2I’m straightening Mom’s room at the place which cares for her. She’s in year 10 of Alzheimer’s, healthy but unable to do a single thing for herself or communicate clearly. I’ve made her room pretty, but more and more I take things away and store them: the costume jewelry someone gave her to play with, the received cards she so loved to tear to pieces and then rearrange, clothes which are too difficult to put on her. If I bring a plant, she doesn’t notice it. I gaze at the things I’ve selected to comfort and define her. Without her zest and vitality, their definition is less and less clear. cameilla

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4 responses to “i keep saying good-bye

  1. Oh my, this touched me deeply. I care for my mom (87), and am so blessed that, although the body fails (Parkinson’s), her mind is agile and expressive.

    Your experience with loving your mother is rich in a very special way, and I appreciate the “glimpse”!

  2. Thank you, Fran………..I miss my mother very much…….

  3. I can feel this with you, Karleen. I was my mother’s care giver for 8 years. I missed my mother, as I had always known her to be, too. But, I grew to love the new person she became, at the same time.

    At first, her neurologist was not sure she was not just suffering a deeper than usual depression from losing our dad, She did not diagnose Alzheimer’s, or at least she didn’t tell us, until more than two years passed from the time we first took Mom to see her. Dad had then been gone for more than four years, and she was not getting any better.

    Mom went through the costume jewelry stage, too, but before that she went through a stage when she would spend considerable time talking to herself in her mirror, as though to a total stranger. I say talking, but it was more mumbling, as Mom had Frontotemporal dementia (a rarer form of dementia related to Alzheimer’s, and it affected her speech early on. Up until then, she told everyone everywhere we went, she “had five,” while holding up her hand. They didn’t know what she was talking about, but we did. She had five daughters.

    The disease, in my opinion, is much worse on the family than it is on the patient. Mom laughed and laughed and was quite happy, up until about a month before she died. She still smiled a lot, even then, only she grew quieter, and I noticed a change in her. The week following Thanksgiving in 2009, she refused food and drink, altogether, as her hospice nurse told me she would when the time came to say goodbye, and a few days after that, she slipped into a comma. She passed away four days later.

  4. Momma’s short-term memory is gone, and the meaning of short-term gets longer each day. She laughs more than she used to, and she loves company even if she forgets they were there. I cannot comprehend how she can function and carry on sensible conversations without knowing what she did today or yesterday. She always lived in the present which must make it easier on her. In contrast, I must tie everything together, I will be a frightened, confused man when my mind fails.

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