Mothering our Mothers

The times when I feel sorry for myself are not my proudest moments. But when you’re caring for a mom with dementia, sometimes you’ve got to ask, “Why me?”  On those days, I try to remind myself that dementia is mainly a disease of old age. If your mom has lived long enough to get it — and you’ve lived long enough to become her caregiver — luck is at work in your life.

Open any tabloid and you’ll be reminded that many children lose their mothers to cancer and drunk drivers. Some kids never know their mom because adoption or divorce gets in the way. A dear friend of mine died at 37, leaving behind a five year old son. She would have suffered any discomfort imaginable to buy one more day with her boy. But science could not help her earn a pass to longer life.

My mom is sick, and there’s nothing I can do to stop the advance of her illness. But I’m so thankful that she lived long enough for me to really know her before dementia took over. I’m grateful that I, too, survived these years and learned what it’s really like to care for a parent I had taken for granted.

Being a witness to this disease can be hard, but on Mother’s Day I try to keep in mind that good fortune wears strange masks. Sharing a meal with my mom and giving her a hug is quite a privilege. Fate has kept her alive and taught me to see that being a “mother” to my mother can be a gift. For the weary caregivers, I say, “Happy Mother’s Day everyone!” And for the many moms we care for: “We love you, mothers!”

6 Responses to Mothering our Mothers

  1. Beautifully said and so very true Colleen. My mother had a stroke in January of 2010 and I have been caring for her since. Although she made a miraculous recovery after her stroke things just continued to go downhill from there. As of May, 2011 I have been her full-time caregiver “being a “Mother” to my mother” as you said. It is a very hard job for me due to many mixed emotions that come along with it, but very rewarding. I thank God everyday that I am able to have my mom with me still and I also know that I will have no regrets when mom leaves this earth to join my dad. I miss my MOM very much
    , even though she is still here with me in body and soul. God Bless all the Mother’s out there and those who have left us. One day we will all be together again. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY ~~Linda Baer-Marks~~

  2. Thank you for your kind remarks, Linda. It’s never an easy job but it brings unexpected rewards. Colleen

  3. Thanks for the reminder. As I’ve been caring for my sick mother, it’s definitely become all-too-easy to start feeling sorry for myself. I can’t let myself do that, though, because then I actually start to resent my mother. I need to remember that I’m lucky she’s still alive and has some of her memories left. I’d much rather be caring for her than not having her around at all.

    • I have seen other elderly pelpoe go through this. It is heartbreaking. If you can get by with a short drive, you’re lucky. You could try magnesium supplements. It is needed by the body to calm the nerves and relax muscles. I think that pelpoe seem to lose their memory backwards, from now first and then year by year backwards to birth.Your Grandmother thinks her home is one she was in sometime earlier in her life.I wish I had a good way to help you. She is so lucky to have you! I hope you have someone to take over on weekends. It is a hard thing to be with someone who isn’t quite in our reality anymore all the time, for months on end. Make sure someone else stays sometimes. Take care of yourself too. You’re young and Grandmother has lived a long life.

    • as a caregiver, there is alyaws fear am I doing enough? and then there is guilt when I get tired or short, it is about me not the one that I am caring for because in a way it is an honor to be a caregiver of someone you love. Not that you wouldn’t do anything to make your love well, but sharing the journey is a privilage because you really are 2 halves of a journey. Pilot and co pilot, road and map. But it is hard and stresses of the world get in the way of wanting to be the sunny supporter of someone you see being a couragous, steadfast, tough person of incredible resolve and character. You kinda want to say I am sorry for not being better all the time, but you can say I love you and am so in awe of you all the time.

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