Thursday, December 30, 2010


Christmas has long been my favorite holiday. This year it was a bittersweet combination. A dear friends grandmother lay dying in Hospice, my own mother has once again entered into a "no eating" phase, but all balanced with the joyful presence of another dear friend who left the warm weather of southern Florida to shiver in the cold Northeast.

Holidays bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Truths are challenged, beliefs confirmed, friendships grow stronger and family can prove more elusive. My mothers gift to me this year was recognition. Christmas Eve afternoon, we spent three hours sitting and sharing our presence with each other. She told me she loved me and even asked about my husband name! I have no idea if she recognized me Christmas morning and that's the way it is.

I leave in two days time for my two week vacation. It was with a heavy heart that I said good by to my mother yesterday. Each separation between us, brings changes to her health and places her at further distance from her old life. I do not know what to expect upon my return but know that at the very least, we will meet again and she will know me for the first time.

This evening I attend the wake of a 104 year old grandmother who, until her sudden illness a week ago, was sharp as a tack and full of spirit. She lived and died on her own terms, something we should all hope to be able to do. Aren't we all on some journey or another? For all of us, my wish is for the wind at our backs, a bright moon to light the way and the warm hearts of those most dear, to keep us safe.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy New Year

Peace and Love to all for the New Year.
Cherish good memories.....hold tight to those you hold dear.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Where You Are.......

Some days when visiting with my mom, my gaze catches her in a moment that brings back a memory of how she used to be. It feels like she's had AD so long that I can't always remember the old days.
Mostly now, I remember the onset and how I'd laugh things off, make excuses or get really angry with her. I remember picking her up for a noon time christening and she came to the door in a ballgown of sea foam green chiffon, rhinestones in her ears and drawn on green eyebrows. I decided that day to just go with it and so we did. A few eyebrows were raised upon her entrance, but in every other way that day, she was herself.
I didn't recognize the Alzheimer's when it first showed up. I regret the anger and harsh words.
She loved to laugh and loved a good joke. We traveled with friends a great deal while growing up and she would be the first up and last to bed. I was her partner in crime, staying up with her and visiting with friends to the wee hours, while my father snored peacefully back in the hotel room.
I catch glimpses of her from time to time. I try to no avail, to jog her memory about me. I worry that she will remember me on a day when I do not visit. I worry that she will feel lonely and abandoned. I imagine that I will be by her side when she dies, but know that circumstances don't always cooperate with the best laid plans. My luck, she will die the minute I step out to pee. My mother has always done things her way and on her own terms. I'm sure her death will be no different
I believe she's in there somewhere. I wait for the glimpses...I am very patient these days.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I had a girls weekend away this past week. Our excuse was a Christmas shopping and cheer filled two days. Always for me, it is about time spent in good company....good female company. Hey, what can I say..I'm an only child without a large extended family. It's the slumber party I never had. We are all daughters, and all but myself are mothers. One has already lost her mom to Alzheimer's, another lost her mom just a few months ago to cancer and the other two describe their living moms as feisty, strong, sometimes impossible, but always a clear presence in their lives.
Stories were shared about family traditions and Christmases past. A gaudy, festively decorated sweater was considered for one mom, but eventually good taste won out and it was left on the rack. I found myself not talking a whole lot about my mom. What to say? The story really doesn't change from one day to the next. I saw items in the stores, decorations in the windows and gaily festooned hats that my mother would have loved. In another time and day, we would have donned those hats and laughed ourselves silly. I think a lot about Christmas past and what it meant to be part of my family. We would gather on Christmas Eve, just the three of us, around the tree at midnight. Wishes to each other were shared and thanks were given that we were together. Morning would bring the traditional chicken pie breakfast, a full stocking and more thanks for all that we received.
I stopped to visit my mother on my way home from the weekend. I announce myself as her daughter Pam. She smiles, reaches for my hand and wants to know if I've seen her mother. We sit side by side for the next hour, holding hands in peaceful silence.....each of us a daughter, each of us looking for our mom.

Monday, November 29, 2010

This I am grateful for......

There is a moment after a question has been asked and before the answer has been given, in which all is possible. It hangs suspended, open to assumption, hope, wish, optimism and even pessimism.

The morning before Thanksgiving, my mother looked up at me and asked, "are you my daughter"? It was a precious moment. I knew that for the first time in months she had awareness of being a mother, awareness however fleeting ...of me. My answer that morning and her subsequent response aren't as important as that moment. For that, I am grateful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For You

The memory box outside my mothers room looks like a window with 4 shelves and a locking pane of glass to protect the view inside. Up until last week, if you paused to gaze within, you would have seen a 5x7 black and white photo of my parents taken on their wedding day as they prepared to cut their cake. Their hands are clasped closely over each others and there is a faint blush in my mothers cheeks and a smile in my fathers' eye. Their whole life is ahead of them and surely only good fortune and the promise of a long happy future lay ahead. Next to this photo, is an exact duplicate in sterling silver of my mothers life membership card in the American Legion Auxiliary. Alongside is a platter given to her in 1964 when she was state president of the American Legion Auxiliary and next to that, the teacup pictured above. I gave my mother teacups for every special occasion when I was growing up. They hung on a rack in the kitchen and often we would try to guess each others favorites. I bought this one in 1975 as a gift for her 25Th wedding anniversary. A typical mom in some ways...she always insisted they were all her favorites.

Last week upon the arrival of her new roommate, I found that the platter and teacup had been carelessly taken out of the box and placed in the magazine rack in her room. Her wedding photo and sterling card had been moved to a higher shelf and placed behind the figurines and photos of her new roommate. I'll be the first to say that neither my mother or her roommate give a damn about their memory box. My mom knew about it once but that piece of information is long gone. The memories are mine and anyone else's to view, should they gaze into the glass window on the wall. Clearly whoever changed things around and rearranged knows this. I have been at a loss since this happened to identify my feelings on can someone so clearly value ones memories at the expense of someone else's?

My mother asked me my name today and when I told her I was Pamela, she asked me if I knew her daughter Pamela. When I told her it was I, she looked at me sadly as though I had lost my mind and said, "I really don't think so." I take heart that she remembers her daughter and pray that she doesn't think she has' abandoned her. Memories.....for some of us it's all we have.

I have set about arranging my mothers memory box once again. I use only one shelf of the four, and I am careful to not upset Ellie's memory items. The teacup sits front and center and brings me back to the anniversary party on a July afternoon in my grandmothers backyard. I counted her teacups today when I got home...I have 32 more ...You mess with the teacups, you mess with me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I crept into the dim light of my mothers room this weekend....she was down for an afternoon nap. I must have startled her in my approach, as her eyes flew open and she gasped..."oh mama, I'm so glad you are here" she said. I sat down on the bed and she reached for my hand and burrowed just a bit closer putting her head in my lap. I held her hand and gently stroked her cheek as she shut her eyes and drifted off. It wasn't always like this between she and I. We didn't touch, hug or hold hands. I am greedy in my mid life, touching and holding her constantly, as if I could somehow undo the last 50 years. I notice when I touch her, that her body remembers what her mind has forgotten. I don't think AD can obliterate the sense of touch and gentleness. Her face relaxes, a ghost of a smile appears.....oh mama.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


My mothers roommate of 3 years died last night. Her name was Stella and while I cannot say I knew her well, this is what I did know. She had a niece who visited often in the beginning and then not so much. She had beautiful long white hair which the nurses brushed and kept in a long plait down her back. Her face was hardly touched by age, though she was well into her 70's, and the lines of anguish I see so often on the faces of others with Alzheimer's was absent on hers. She was usually quiet and subdued though on a few occasions, she'd tell anyone within a 5 foot radius to "FUCK OFF". I must admit to a little smile and "you go Stella" whenever she did this. I will also admit that I felt a bit of happiness for her tonight that she gets to finally leave this life that has been dealt to her. I mean seriously, how much pureed food and ever present odor of urine can one human endure. The answer apparently...a whole lot. But I digress....

I found out she died this evening while visiting my mom. I walked into their room to find Stella's side completely bare of furniture, no pictures on the walls and no sign of clothing in the closet. When I inquired at the nurses station, I'm informed that due to HIPPA regulations and confidentiality laws, they are unable to officially tell me. Off the record I am told she has died. Really? I know its not much of a club, but to those of us with family on the inside...its our club and these losses mean something to us. Confidentiality be damned, but again...I digress.

So here's the kicker to the whole mother and Stella both confined to wheelchairs, both sleep in beds at least 30 feet away from each mother is so deaf that you have to yell into her ear while standing practically on top of her and she still doesn't hear you and on top of that she hasn't uttered a single intelligent sentence in about 5 weeks....Stella and mom go to bed at 8pm last night, bed checks at 8:30, 9:00, 9:30 and 10:00 all 10:30, my mom yells out quite clearly "please someone, come here now, we need help". Stella has died.

There are more things I probably can't explain than things I can. This is one of them. Who says there is no mystery, it's everywhere you turn.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

With This Ring.....

My mothers wedding band slipped off her finger today. She has never taken it off in 60 years. Though she no longer remembers my father or her wedding day, I hold tight to my belief that in her dreams at night...everything is possible.
She is a ghost of her former self. Tiny and shrunken, she appears smaller and smaller every time I see her. Her connection to this world is slipping away. I wear her ring today and will keep it for her until it is put back on for the last time.

In the year of their courtship and engagement, my parents wrote daily to one another. I have a shoebox full of letters tied in satin ribbon that follows the course of their connection to each other. 730 letters in all, some of which the contents make me blush and in reading them, I feel as though I am violating some sacred space shared only between the two of them.
After the accident, which claimed her right arm, I would see my mother grimace as the phantom pain of that lost arm would keep her up at night walking the floor. I would hear my fathers soft murmur as he tried to give comfort. In my life, my mother has never spoken of that loss. She'd shrug her shoulders and say when I would question her..."you just move forward".

Upon my fathers death, my mother faced the ensuing days with strength, humor and yankee matter of factness. It was only at night that I would hear her quietly weeping behind her closed bedroom door.

I search for connection with each visit. As she moves farther and farther away, I hold tighter to my bond with friends and family. That she is dying has become clearer this Fall. No amount of knowing this one true fact, makes the loss any more bearable. I wear her ring today, a slender gold connection to a life lived, to a father I miss so much and to the family I was born into. I move forward and know that in time, I will be able to remember her for who she used to be.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

An Agent of Good Fortune

My mother was speaking word salad last night. She's been doing that more and more frequently and I fear that eventually, she will not speak at all. There is no remission with Alzheimers. In a burst of tears, I drove away last evening and called Celeste. She turns my tears of loss into belly laughs and she joins me from afar on my way home.

I met Celeste the first time, over 17 years ago. She was dressed in a power suit, juggling a briefcase and a tray of jello shots! Fast forward 3 years later and my soon to be husband invites her for dinner. By the time I served desert, a friendship was cemented and we were planning a girls vacation to the Vineyard. She shares a birthday with Jimmy Buffet, though sadly for him, he has missed her celebrations. She's an island girl in time with the tides and sea. She's of the opinion (somedays) that people are overrated and always has a good example to back up her claim. One can hardly argue her logic.

When hurricanes head for her tiny island village, she's the first out the door, lawn chair in hand. "Lets see what you've got" she says to mother nature. She treats all of natures exhibitions with respect and awe. She threatens to become "unhinged" occasionally but I've never seen it. Woe to the one who does I suspect. As for me, are you kidding? I'll grab a lawn chair and watch the whole thing unfold.
If you need a road trip buddy then Celeste is your girl. She puts in a little Jackson Browne or Bruce Cockburn and you are on your way. Did I mention she had a touch of narcolepsy a few years back? Not a big deal really. Of course, the winding back roads of NH proved to be a trip and a half and coming over the Goodland Bridge with her set my adrenalin to flowing.

Following the devastating oil spill in the gulf, she became a loud voice for the natural resources of ocean, wildlife and beach she loves so much. On a flight to Montana in August, she found herself sitting next to a 20 something young woman who was on her way to Idaho. "And what do you do"? Celeste asks her....I can only imagine the girls growing sense of unease as she shares that she works for Exxon. I don't even like to fly and I would have paid double to be listening in to that conversation.

No doubt about it in my mind...she's steadfast and true..she turns my sobs to belly laughs and if I ever find myself trapped in a Chilean mine, I'd want her running the rescue operation.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Pantsuit.....

"Won't you let me buy you a pantsuit?", she would ask at least once and nearly a dozen times more as my birthday or Christmas approached. This was usually followed by the thinly veiled insult that "I could be such a pretty girl if I'd only do something with my hair". "I don't wear pantsuits", I would explain in frustration. It would fall on deaf ears. I figured out a long time ago that somehow I was doomed to disappoint my mother. Our fights in my adolescence were notable for their fury and in the amount of abuse we seemed so easily able to fling at each other. My father arriving home from work, already half expecting to be called in as referee, would encourage me to be a little more patient. I wasn't sure why she was so angry, I only knew it was an ever present companion just under the surface ready to flare at any provocation.
My mothers closet is full of gaily colored pantsuits in every color of the rainbow. I buy them for her at Macy's and offer them up one by one as small apologies for this life she now leads. Others dress her now and they rarely match the pieces correctly. This frustrates me as I know how much my mother loved clothes and how she always coordinated so well. I try to let it go. Her pantsuits are stained with food she does not eat. The food she spits out when I try to coax her into a spoonful. I do a complicated dance with Hospice. When she dips below a certain weight they will be called in. I arrive at dinner time and hold the fork or spoon to her lips. Months ago, I would silently and sometimes not so silently, plead with her to eat something....even one thing. Letting go is to let her decide. I plead no more. Eat nothing or eat something....I finally get it. This is not the life you would choose.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

End of Summer.....

The wild turkeys gather in the backyard, huddled together, as if they know something about the upcoming winter that I don't. The autumn leaves are quickly replacing summers last green and the lone patio chair placed in it's silent stance till spring comes round again.

My waiting room fills with young voices all seeking a way to live in this world. Homesickness fills the corners of my office as we plot our course together of letting go....we let go of beliefs held since childhood, summer flings and summer loves, a misperception here and there. Teacher and student.... roles reversed, on any given day. Take me on your journey....learn to live on your own.
On her unit, the days grow shorter and darkness hovers at the edges. There are dark holes in the floor where the carpets used to be. So many empty spaces and beds. The red chairs that signify "Hospice" is in the house. There are fewer smiles, fewer words and thoughts, less attention given to the present. Where do you go for longer and longer periods of time? There is a place where I cannot go with you. I sit vigil, waiting for a glimpse of your return. Our last best day of summer, I walked you outside. The Rose of Sharon was in full bloom and you said it was beautiful. We held hands, I always trying to hold onto more of you than I can find. The blooms are long since faded, having dropped to the ground, color and life retreating. I too work hard to let you go.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

o-a-sis - noun : something serving as a refuge, relief or pleasant change from that what is usual, annoying or difficult, etc.

My mother had a standing 3:30 appointment on Thursday afternoons at the beauty parlor when I was a child. There were no highlights or blow dries offered there. This was the old school salon that offered perms, wash and sets and an occasional cut. My mother, as many women in that generation, did not touch her hair in between appointments. Her only preparation each morning before work, was to apply an armor producing coating of hairspray to her head. Her curls would survive a hurricane! I would be dragged along on these appointments and succumb to boredom in the hour and a half we were there. By the age of 9, I was a weekly reader of both "Good Housekeeping" and the "Ladies Home Journal". Perhaps my later vocation as a psychotherapist was due in part to all those "Can This Marriage Be Saved" columns.

There is a room on my mothers unit that is the domain of Rita. Rita is a short but mighty woman with a hearty laugh, warm brown eyes and a heart of gold. She operates the beauty parlor on the Alzheimers unit. Much like the beauty parlor of my youth, this one offers perms, wash and sets and cuts. Not on the menu, but offered in large quantity are hugs, respect for her clients and lollipops. This room is an oasis within the troubled landscape just outside the door. Clients in this room have no agitation, no confusion, nor do they try to wander away. It is said that the body remembers what the mind forgets. I watch my mothers face as she settles in for her wash and set. A smile breaks as she is given her lollipop and as the warm water and Ritas' gentle hands massage her scalp, she closes her eyes in bliss. No confusion here....she remembers precisely the comfort and pleasure of a good shampoo.

I accompany my mother on this weekly appointment. Gone are the magazines, as I would not read them anyway. I savor the experience each week and the memories it brings to mind. Touch....whether a gentle massage, a hug, or a hand lightly stroking her cheek is still a common experience we can share. Lifes best gifts are found in the small things....Ritas' hearty laugh, a long ago memory.....a lollipop.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Looking For Lawrence Welk....

I live with Alzheimers, so I get to find humor in it. There's so little about this disease to laugh about that eventually you find yourself chuckling about really crazy things. It keeps me sane. For example, I'm walking down the hall this morning looking for my mom and Jackie (fellow resident) is walking towards me. I shout out a fairly cheerful good morning and pause on my way to the music room. "Have you seen Lawrence Welk?"... she asks. I tell her with confidence that I do not believe he is in the building, but rumor has it he will be around this afternoon. Did I mention that Alzheimers also makes you a pretty good liar. Jackie is a former model and singer, so in a weird way it kinda makes sense that she's looking for old Lawrence. Are you following me on this?
Today was a good visit. I found humor everywhere I looked instead of the obvious alternative. When they ask my mother for a urine sample and she delivers it in her roomates denture cup...that's funny. When the dentures also happen to be in the cup, even funnier and yes, this is a true story.
My mother loves a good joke and still likes to laugh. That's one thing that hasn't changed about her over the last few years. Research into Alzheimers has found that short but cheerful visits tend to set the tone for the patients day, long after they have forgotten you were even there. On my visits I try to get her laughing. Sometimes she'll even chime in with her own joke or funny story. It doesn't matter if it makes sense.....the treasure is in the laughter. Today was a good day and besides, I hear Lawrence Welk is playing tonight!

Friday, August 27, 2010


My mother went missing five years ago. She didn't leave all at once. It was like she just quietly slipped out of the room for longer and longer periods of time. Her doctors call it Alzheimers and they offer no hope that she will one day find her way back to me.

Our relationship begins anew each time I visit with her. I search for threads of continuity from one visit to the next. I have no battle with this woman. Our unresolved issues belong to another time and place, another woman. We have traveled this journey together she and I. I have gone from being her daughter to being the nice woman who will help find her daughter. And now, unaware that she has me at all, she has returned to the company of her parents and others that I cannot see.

It began over a cup of coffee seated at the counter of our local coffee shop. I stepped away for a second and my mother asked the woman seated next to her, "Who is that nice young woman seated next to me?" It culminated in my mother leaving her home and joining the ranks of so many other elderly unable to care for themselves. Forever etched in my mind, I hold the image of her walking out the door of my childhood home for the last time. An image I cannot let go of and perhaps one I need to keep.

My mother was a teacher of third graders for her entire adult life. Even today, she is a teacher. It is not unusual to arrive on her unit, only to find her trying to maintain some order in her classroom. Her voice rises over the din of her class as she calls for quiet. She stubbornly refuses to give up on her students, even those that are clearly disruptive, and hardly aware that class is in session.

My mother spends her days with a diverse cast of characters. In the mornings when I enter her unit, I am greeted by Vern who sits patiently by the door, day after day, waiting for his wife to walk through. I do not know if she ever does. John is a handsome man with beautiful brown eyes that are always focused in another time and place. His fingers move rapidly as he deals from an imaginary deck of cards. I like to imagine that he was a dealer in Atlantic City and that other dealers envied his skill and artistry with cards. Zelda, a Holocaust survivor can be found hugging herself in silent anguish in the corner of the day room. James cries all day, while Nan, counts endlessly from one to forty-eight over and over again.

My mother is my only surviving link to my childhood and my history. I am already grieving the loss of that connection. She requires me to live in the moment as that is all we really have. We sit in silence most days and I hold her hand, something we never did before. It is a small connection but so powerful. For her it is about texture and warmth and presence. For me it is the holding of our history. This moment, this contact with her, all I have, all that matters.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Not Today

Estelle died last evening. Brenda, just last week. These are women who like my mom had alzheimers. I knew them for who they were now. I had no experience of them before. Sometimes it feels like my moms unit is a waiting room for death and like so many other uninvited guests, it can show up at any time.

I attended music group with my mom this morning. I was skeptical I'll admit. What possible benefit could music do for a dozen wheelchair bound alzheimers patients? My moms unit is the last stop....this is where you end up after you've started out on the other units. Suffice to say, folks here are in the advanced stages of the disease. They started the hour with a little Big Band ala Glenn Miller. Eyes slowly closed, smiles spread across faces in the group and suddenly they were no longer on the Cheshire unit. Bodies swayed in their chairs and feet started moving. My mother danced for all she was worth with her hand in mine and her feet keeping pace with the tempo. It was possible for an hour to forget why we were here. Towards the end, they lowered the pace somewhat and played a Mozart Concerto. Bert, a fellow resident and former violinist was transported to another time and place. His fingers danced in the air as he accompanied the tune. I caught a glimpse of the man he used to be. Who said there is no magic?

Death hovered at the edges, but for today atleast, it wasn't invited. Today there is only dancing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Country Mouse

My friends from the city came out for dinner last night. Mind you, I've lived here for two years and this was their first visit. Amid a bevy of frantic cell phone calls demanding to know how much further and which white church do we turn right at, they arrived. The dirt roads and no cell service zones almost did them in. It really was touch and go for a few miles.

We sat out in the backyard for awhile and let the evening fill in around us. Stories were told and laughter was shared. Much to their disappointment, no bears or moose wandered out of the woods to grace us with a visit. Finches, chickadees and chipmunks were plentiful and amused us with their antics.

At one point, a comment was made that once you got here, why would you want to leave? It's always good to look at a familiar place with new eyes and my friend reminded me aknew of all that I love about this home and this tiny area of forest I call mine.

They drove off a couple hours later and I waved goodby. No frantic phone calls on the way home, no bears in the road......maybe just a new appreciation for dirt roads, an absence of street lights and stars, clear in the night sky.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ode to Nancy Sinatra

I love shoes. I'm hard pressed not to find the good in just about any shoe. My mother loved shoes in her day. She had 71 pairs of pointed toed stiletos in every color of the rainbow. I remember dress up days as a kid...the world is your oyster with a good looking pair of shoes on! My mother never owned a pair of black shoes, can you believe that? I have so many pairs of black shoes, I predict a 12 step meeting just for me is on the horizon.

I build outfits from the ground up. Get the shoes and the rest just falls into place. Theres a visceral pull in my gut when I walk into a shoe store and "THE PAIR" find me. Helloooooo they say. Where have you been all my life, I say inside my head. Size 8 and be quick about it. Last year I bought a pair of really expensive Italian leather dress shoes with "great cleavage" as the salesperson said. He said they looked just fabulous. Little did he know, they had me at Helloooo.

The first pair of shoes I remember needing to have were a pair of ankle high/side zippered, white GoGo boots. My parents kindly relented and the world changed from the ground up that day. I was 6 years old and I even wore those boots with my Brownie uniform. I've been chasing that dragon ever since.
I have to say one thing here about white shoes.....NO! I know, I just told you about the GoGo boots..but with age, has come wisdom. Any way you slice it in my book...white shoes are a fashion don't. I was raised with the rule that you don't wear white before Memorial Day nor after Labor Day. If you must wear white....respect the rule. And by the way, "winter white" is still white!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Keep Them In Your Hearts

Hanging on the wall outside each room on my mothers unit are "memory boxes". They are filled with photos and memorbilia of each resident and are meant to help them find their room if they get lost. Frankly, I've never seen a single resident look at the boxes. I think they serve to remind the rest of us never to forget that our our moms and dads were once vibrant, passionate and fully participating people in our world.

Two CEO's, a physician, a model, a photographer, 4 teachers, 2 engineers, 3 accountants, 7 housewives, a postman, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and a large group of World War 2 and Korea veterans make up my mothers world now. They are all lost in the past and wage a far bigger battle than they ever did on the battlefields or in the classrooms and boardrooms. Forgetting the thought on the tip of their tongue brings tears of frustration. Feeling abandoned by all whom they love, when in fact those same loved ones visit everyday.

Alzheimers is the "thief of hearts", the robber in the night and the remorseless sociopath. It takes and takes from each victim and family it targets. When you think it can take nothing else, it finds one more thing. It robs you of your past, cheats you of your future and influences every moment. It denies the ability to say "Enough, I just want to go now". I have looked to find the hidden good in this journey with my mother. She has taught me a new level of compassion and she has taught me the value of appreciating each moment as it comes. I keep you in my heart mom.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We moved deeper into the country two years ago. Our backyard is host to Hawks, Turkeys, Pileated Woodpeckers, Bears, Deer and Racoon. There is a super-highway of chipmunk tunnels underneath our back deck and I suspect that one day we will simply disappear into a large sink hole full of acorns. I am married to the modern day Elmer Fudd. Like Elmer, who's nemesis was that wascally husbands ire has been raised by the squirrels who routinely eat from my bird feeders. At 6:15 every morning just as the first bird starts tweeting, he leaps from our bed and grabbing his trusty pellet gun runs buckass naked to the back yard. Unbeknownst to me in my early morning slumber, he hears that wascally gway sqwirrel leap onto the feeder for his morning meal. POW...the pellet guns mighty retort goes, scaring every living animal in a 1 mile radius and abruptly pulling me from my morning sleep. I yell, I carry on...shhhh, he says. I'm hunting sqwirrels. Be vwery, vwery quiet. The numbers of visiting squirrels have dwindled though whether its due to the pellet gun or the naked guy scaring the crap out of them...I'm not sure. As far as I can see, the only thing he's shot so far has been my inflatable pool toy. I'll stand over here while Elmer wrestles that mighty squirrel!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Land of Buck-up

Ahh's the one trait I most admire in others and until this summer, I thought I had a wealth of it myself. I time my visits with my mom to catch her at a good time, which typically means she's awake and talking. I spend 4 mornings a week with her and about an hour is all I can take. I hate to admit this but with Alzheimers, its more about you than it is your mom. The tears start for me as I drive to visit her. It's always a crap shoot as to what I will be greeted with. I loudly announce myself with a "Hello Mom"....shes completely deaf having decided a year ago to toss her hearing aids in the laundry. Her top teeth are another story entirely...god knows what she did with those! She hasn't known me for the last 5 weeks, though her pleasure at my visits bring me some consolation. This morning she tells me she went fishing when I inquire about her day. We spend some time talking about this excursion and it is clear she enjoyed herself immensely. I do not know if this is a past memory or one of her current delusions. It does not matter I find. There was a time when I was insistent that she must know me, that she must place me in the proper location of her history. Alzheimers always gets the last laugh! I tag along behind, grateful for any scraps. I cry for all that has been lost and hope for her sake that her faith of seeing her loved ones again will be realized. Ahh mom sure has some, has had it her whole life. In the meantime, I hang tightly to all I have.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcome to my blog....I've never done this before and I have no idea what makes me think anyone would actually read this thing. Egos get the best of everyone I guess. Besides turning 50 two months ago, I guess the important thing about me is that my mom has Alzheimers disease and I have many thoughts and feelings about that. I used to write in college but haven't in a long while. I have found since sitting with this disease that the creative juices are flowing again. I'm also a psychotherapist, wife, pretty loyal friend, cat owner, part time party planner and wild animal whisperer (don't ask).
So read on....and thanks for stopping by.

Coming Home

If I bring you home

will you come back to us?

Will the smell of your lilacs through the back window,

jog a distant memory

of family,

of me?