Who She Was

It’s been over two years since dementia made it unsafe for Mom to live alone. After we moved her into my house, I avoided going to hers. The sight of her carefully arranged things filled me with grief. But now our family needs to rent her property to help pay for her care. Cleaning out the rooms is tough. Notes on her desk, her shoes in a row — every inch of the place bears sad reminders of the woman she once was.

The ties between us never frayed as her disease progressed. I’ve witnessed her loss of skills and — from close range — I’ve watched the transformation of her personality. With such focus on her growing frailty, I had forgotten what she was like just six or seven years ago when she still mailed birthday cards like clockwork.

Walking through her old bedroom, I cried while reading short reminders she’d written to herself. My mom was such a diligent person. She cared about small details in a way that amazes me. I’m random, energetic and impulsive. Things always get done, but I rarely plan and execute projects with her kind of precision. This was one of those personality differences that made us get annoyed with each other.

As I looked around her little office the other night, I couldn’t feel anything but admiration for the way she managed her life. She was so careful and attentive. The walls were lined with tokens of love from her many friends. Smiling photos, silly cards. It’s the stuff we can’t look away from when we sift through the remains of her life — that’s who she was.

We are so lucky that we still have her. Light shines through those eyes even as we feed her soup and comb her hair. Her love is the one thing we hold onto while the woman she was retreats to memory. Sometimes it hurts to be the steward of her past as well as my own, but it’s part of the caregiver’s job. And I guess that’s now who I am.

One Response to Who She Was

  1. February 12, 2012I think along the same lines as G-J here.Also, what does this mean to Hubby, to me?He doesn’t have Alzheimers but does have Lewy Body Dementia.What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other.What about other deemntias? In January 2011, President Obama signed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, which calls for an aggressive and coordinated national Alzheimer’s disease plan. The Act also establishes an Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, which brings together some of the Nation’s foremost experts on Alzheimer’s disease to inform the development of the national plan. The preliminary framework for the National Alzheimer’s Disease Plan identifies key goals including preventing and treating Alzheimer’s disease by 2025. As work on the plan continues, the Obama Administration is taking action. A Plan? A planning committee? More Experts to get together and do more surveys and decide that Alzheimers caregivers have stress and needs? They just need to join a couple of caregiving sights and they can get all the data they need for planning. A FB acquaintance and Alz patient wrote the following: In 1906 Alzheimer’s was identified. That was 106 years ago. Only 3 drugs in all that time have been found to maybe help slow progression. It is fatal. It has no cure. the National Plan proposes effective treatment by 2025 . 13 years away. In that time another 1, 376,208 Americans will die from Alzheimer’s. Thats based on the death rate from 2006. AD has increased 66% in that time. I will be one of those who will die. I am only 50. Heart breaking. And no planning can reduce that.

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