Friday, July 1, 2011

The day I feared finally came...and I rejoiced!

I chose the title carefully.  I don't want pity. 

Probably about 5 years ago my mom received a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.  She was a mess at my father's funeral 2 years ago.  I was scared and thought she'd be in a home soon.  She was so mixed up!  This was not the mother I knew, but being away most of my adult life,  I think it was the change that was shocking.  Having worked in a nursing home, I knew what Alzheimer's could look like, in the end.  My biggest fear was that she would  forget my name.  I realize now just what a selfish fear that was.  Let me explain.

They call it the long goodbye.  Mom began complaining after a surgery on her gall bladder that her mind was leaving her.  She was forgetting little things.  Words wouldn't come to her.  We all consoled her and pretty much told her she was crazy, we were all that way, and she was doing well for her age.  We are talking a woman who ran a restaurant, and later was the major go-to gal at church.  When she finally got to see the pope, Dad joked that in the crowd they said, "Well, I see Adella there, but whose the guy in the dress standing next to her?"

She chaired a yearly function where over 2000 people were fed barbecue and money-making booths for the church were set up for about 20 years.  She fed the  200 priests at a yearly get-together which was held in our home town mainly for her cooking.  She fed, clothed, and loved 10 children., who had 10 spouses and something like 60 kids and grand kids and remembered each individual at Christmas. 

She had, as she used to say, a good mind.  She still does.  She uses the same brilliance she once had (although she was a very simple woman by design) to keep fighting the good fight that is slowly taking away her ability to recall words.  She had to go down a list to pick out my name.  Luckily, she can still read and write, but she can't recall our names on demand.

But I'll be damned if she doesn't recall who we are. She always asks, "How's your boy and your husband?" She can't remember where we live or our names or our phone number, but she recalls our essence. Do you know what I'm saying? She is still my mama.  She still has that beautiful, soft, encouraging voice.  She still laughs the same.

Though much is taken, much abides. 

I don't want to lose her!! Ben is grieving who she was, I think, and feels she might be better off, well, you know.  I'm so far from that now.  I don't know how or where or why it changed, but I love who she is now as much as I loved who she was in better days.  And I loved her fiercely.  She is a great mentor.

Somebody tweeted a great NYTimes video. It makes me think of mama.   A man,Jack Agüeros,      was once a great poet, thinker.  His children rejoice in who he is.  He is still a magnificent man.  Can you see it?



Gia said...

Not pity, but understanding. I lost my mom in 2002, after a series of "mini-stokes" took her away from us, a little at a time. But there were moments when a flash of Mom would break thru the fog... once, when it got to the point she no longer recognized me, I said, Mom, I'm Gia. She looked at me and frowned a little and said, "No, you're not Gia. Gia is much prettier than you." What could I say? : ) You and your family are in my heart.

usethebrainsgodgiveyou said...

Hot Dang, Miss Gia! I wondered it that was you! Thanks!

usethebrainsgodgiveyou said...

I've got to catch up with Mist of a Memory...You're getting quite prolific! It's very good, Gia.

Gia said...

Thanks, Rosie! It's easy when someone else has done the writing! : )

Happy Elf Mom said...

Ah, yes. Thankfully she remembers that essence! :)

You know once I asked my Nana what she planned for her 94th birthday. She told me she planned to be dead! She thought that losing her memory or not dying young enough was a horrible thing. But I think as she aged and DID lose much of her memory, that she became a joyful person she was unable to be before.

KWombles said...

No pity, but empathy. ((()))