My earliest memories begin with the soothing sounds of my mother's voice. A true independent pioneer during the 1960's, my mother was divorced and a single parent of one child in a Mad Men society. Looking back, I realize what tremendous strength she had in order to provide a lifestyle for me that was generally speaking, reserved for families with two incomes. I never heard her boast of things she was able to do for me such as take me to Europe each summer when I was very little. My mother always stressed to me that developing my mind was most important. She always set the best example as she completed two masters degrees plus her juris doctorate, to become an accomplished attorney.
My mother always watched her diet, which included plenty of salmon and blueberries, and participated in various physical activities such as yoga and tai chi. However, on one hot summer day as she was talking with a friend outside of her home and she fainted. Apparently, when she fainted she hit her head on the pavement. Her friend helped her out and took my mother to the hospital to get a scan. All checked out well and my mother was allowed to return home.
Within a month of her fall, my mother began asking me, "What's the word"? This question became more frequent. Having lived in another state than my mother I was unable to accompany her to a neurologist. My mother's report to me was that all was well and she was just stressed out. I accepted this and was comforted that she was fine.
The reality was this was not the case. Her neurologist had diagnosed her with dementia. My mother was so stoic that she did not tell me. As the disease progressed to the point where my mother could no longer, "hide it", I went with her to the neurologist who told me about her diagnosis. At the time I was numb, but not devistated because my mother was at the beginning stages. I had no concept in my mind that my mother would someday be a reflection of who she was. I remember asking my mother to show me where important papers were just so I could be prepared in case something happened to her. She did not comply - I think because she most probably was too frieghtened to consider that possibility. I asked my mother if she wanted to move to my state and live with me, but she declined my invitation. Determined to maintain her independence, my mother remained in her apartment and relied on my aunt for moral support. She took countless classes in piano, art, yoga, and did many a crossword puzzle.
A few years later, my aunt died. This had a horrific effect on my mother who became depressed in addition to having dementia. Because things had begun to take a downward turn. I brought my mother to live with me. Not knowing where important documents were, I needed to go through every piece of paper at my mother's apartment before I closed it out.
With no experience with the disease, I sought help from as many places as possible in my area. I started with my physician who recommended Home Care for my mother. Initially, I signed with an agency to have someone watch my mother during the day. It was so expensive plus my mother was not really stimulated- so at night she had so much energy and would not sleep. This was extremely challenging for me as I had to go to work the next day. I called several local Assisted Living facilities and I could not believe the monthly cost for an apartment within those communities. Even the rate for a shared room makes a mortgage look laughable. I finally found one which sort of fit our budget and she resides there today. It breaks my heart that these facilities are so expensive. I don't know what I would do if my mother didn't have a pension and social security. When my mother first entered the facility, she was very combative as if she knew this was a sign that her independence was gone.
These days, my mother is peaceful, mobile, and content, which is a wonderful blessing! I do simple things for her such as cream her feet, give her a gentle massage to let her feel my love. I make sure she is dressed beautifully to maintain her dignity and grace. Yes, although she does not remember my name, she knows me! She refers to me as her baby.
Thank you mother for all of the gifts you have given to me my entire life. Thank you for the gift of time and serenity you are giving me now. I salute you and I am proud to be - YOUR CHILD.