This was the first Mother’s Day without my Mother. Yes, I know it has happened to others, and I now respect their feelings more than ever before. Yes, I know it will be better, and I know she would not want me to be sad, but the truth of the matter is I am sad.
In a way, the first statement is not true because as anyone who has dealt with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s/Dementia can tell you, we lose some part of them almost on a daily basis. Living with this disease, whether it is your loved one or just someone you know, requires much education, patience and a tremendous amount of love and understanding. Some never accept the fact that a parent is no longer a parent, but a child requiring the same amount of care given to their children. Those who have experienced this will tell you that role reversal is not an easy thing. There are no set rules to follow because what might work during a situation today likely will not work tomorrow. We live, we learn, we get angry, we cry, we laugh and we remember.
This Mother’s Day I reflected on last year when we went to Snyder Nursing Home to have lunch with her. The folks at Snyder’s treat everyone as family and had provided lunch so we could be with our mother on this day. They also gave the ladies wrist corsages, including us!
We were set up on the side porch with an awning to block the hot noontime sun, and a fan was going in the corner to blow the hot air away from the table. We got there early and took mother to the porch to wait for the others to arrive.
While we were sitting there making idle conversation, mother reached over and took my hand. I remember how special I felt. She looked at me with a very serious look and said, “You must think I am awful. We have been sitting here talking for a while, and I’m sorry, but I don’t think I know who you are”.
My heart died a wee bit inside, and I prayed I would not cry. I apologized to her and said, “My name is Sue.” There was no recollection whatsoever on her face as she told me it was a beautiful name. I told her, “What is your name?”
Immediately, I saw the lost look come across her face. We had come to recognize that look, and I quickly wanted to make it go away, but the confusion was still there. So, I left my chair, hugged her and told her I wanted to call her mother. She asked why I would call her mother. I said, “Because today is Mother’s Day!” She smiled and agreed to being called mother, but once more she left us and went back to being the lady I had never met until today. The memory of all that will fade one day, or so I have been told.
After church, Herm took me to the cemetery…it was raining and muddy and even though I am 75-years-old, I cried for my mother!!
On the way home, I asked him to take me by the Nursing Home for a moment.
Cortney Darnell, one of the CNA’s who helped to take care of mother, had sent a private message telling me she missed us and wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. I knew a hug from her would make me feel better…and it did! It worked for both of us as we stood in the hallway and cried.
I knew I was OK…and do you know what’s even better???
…today, my mother knows who I am.