Saturday, March 24, 2012


Mom, Mommy,  Momma, Ma...whatever we call her, we all have one. Some may not know her, some may wish they didn't. I am lucky enough to have a Mom that was wonderful. You may notice that I said "was." No, she hasn't died, at least in the literal sense. She instead has lost most of the Mom that I knew. She is dying a slow death. A death that comes each day, each hour, each minute. My Mom has Alzheimer's Disease.

Many people do not understand what Alzheimer's can do to a person. They know they forget things. They may have the vision of someone that is scary because they are hard to understand and unpredictable. And Alzheimer's has symptoms, but usually every individual is its own case. Alzheimer's is hard to understand, as researchers are still trying to figure out.

At one time, my Mom was a woman who loved to garden. She always had an herb garden and used those fresh herbs in our meals. She enjoyed a good book more than a room of people. She was a peaceful person. She rarely yelled. She was a counselor who worked at a prominent university and did relaxation, biofeedback and counseling with people who suffered from chronic pain. She volunteered her time for Breast Cancer support groups. She lead workshops for women who were trying to find their greater purpose in life. To many, she was their angel.

Now this woman, my Mom, is like my child. She now lives in a health care facility. She is nervous and anxious and thinks people are talking about her. She can no longer dress or bathe herself without help. She is confused most of the time. So confused that she has created an alternate reality. A world where she is sure that she has met Andrea Bocelli and been to his house. Seems harmless enough, right? Well, she also tells a story where she was asked to execute two young boys. She says she refused.

Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. It turns your brain into mush. You can't process things like you used to be able to. You forget, lose words, your eyesight gets worse, your brain creates stories, you have hallucinations. You literally lose your mind. Lose your life. Lose that person that you once were.

Despite the changes in my Mom, there are still parts of her that haven't changed. Her care givers talk about how beautiful she is. How she is so gentle, caring and a pleasure to be least most of the time. So, although she is no longer the woman, the Mom, that I knew growing up, she is still her, at the core. She is that lovely, beautiful woman who genuinely cares about others and wants to do good by them. She is my Mom.

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