Tuesday, March 16

Traveling back in time

Since today was a relatively mild day, I will divulge into the past and spend some time remembering the mother of my youth. To see the person she has become is hard to image and to realize it is caused by misfiring and spaces in the mind.

My mother would have made a great actress. So many of our home videos show my mom singing or playing guitar, some sort of performance for the camera. Her beauty was a constant issue. She was always concerned with how we all looked and acted when we were not in the comfort of our own home. It was as though we all had a part to play and if we did not perform to her expectations, watch out. One did not argue or displease my mother less they feel her anger. She was the mom all my friends wanted-she seemed so vivacious, full of life, and entertaining. Mostly, people described her as giving. There was never a moment in my life where we were not helping someone. Growing up, our house were filled with her students from school, some with multiple handicaps, others with cerebral palsy. They would become our brothers or sisters and spend many nights at our house to give the parents some rest. As we moved, she would reach out to others. By the time we moved for the last time, our house was filled with the elderly. She cooked for them, cleaned for them, arranged their lives. That is one thing with my mom-she was always in control. No one could wrestle the control from her-it was her way all the way all the time.

In 2000, she took in her mother who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She immediately took the reigns and became content once again. Her kids had flown the nest and now she had another flying in. She took care of my grandmother with such determination and love. In all my years I never met a person so capable of helping another. When my grandmother passed, I believe it jump started my mother's disease. She began overly obsessing about minute things-the dishwasher had to be loaded a certain way and she would reload it over and over until it was right. The videos' had to be categorized in a particular order. She took a college class and would spend hours rewriting her notes sometimes ten times until it looked the way she wanted it to. Her emotions and behaviors became evident to others outside the home. She would get upset and sit down in the middle of the floor at a party just screaming.

By 2006, I was pregnant and she wanted to throw me a baby shower-she pulled it off and it was beautiful. The hours she planned for it and the amount of items she bought for it still amaze me. She bought enough soda for hundreds of people and the candy bars for the games were well over 100. I remember enjoying milky ways for days. I noticed her having difficulty with organization at this point as well as her fine motor skills. My mother, the unbelievable poetess and writer, could no longer write with her elegant graceful handwriting. IT was now chicken scratch. Her perfectly written sentences were now a mix of past present and future tense with misspellings everywhere. She could no longer understand the computer, taking her into extreme reactions when confusion occurred. So many items would be broken in a fit of frustration. She started seeing things differently too-becoming slightly paranoid and hording items.

In 2007 things relatively stated the same, just more pronounced. She became slightly more depressed and frustrated at her confusion. She was still able to read and write, cook, drive, do all housekeeping, self help care, gross motor skills, and cognitive processing. She babysat my daughter and formed such a great relationship with her. IT is this relationship that is often our saving grace today.

The year of the most issues was 2008. It was this year, in the same month, on the same day, that my mom got the results: Early Onset Alzheimer's, Brain Embolism, Breast Cancer. She underwent surgery and 6 weeks radiation. After the radiation, my mom's abilities decreased rapidly. She started having trouble using her debit cards, managing money, going places with others. Everyone seemed to disappear from her life during htis time and even now, the only ones that spend any time with her are my father, brohter, aunt and uncle, and one neighbor. Her best friend calls her often and two others, but that is it. This disease has pushed too many into uncomfortable areas and they flee. My mother had lost the ability to control her emotions if in a situation too stressful and it scared others. My son was born during this year and I fear he came to late. She had a hard time bonding with him and forming that relationship. She actually kicked him out of the house for two weeks because he stole the remote???

By 2009, the disease was evident to everyone around her and more than once I heard the gasps of disbelief at how much she had progressed. She is a shell of the woman she once was. She can do nothing for herself and ironically, she recognizes it. She has retained her ability to communicate and sometimes with such clarity it amazes me. Today she told me that the Alzheimer's has altered her taste-for the first time in my life, she does not like tea. The weird part is she is able to verbalize that. It makes it all the harder because she lives with the pain of who she was and is reminded of it every second. Unlike others with this disease, she does not forget-in fact she often reminds me of things I need to do for her. For those of you who knew my mom, please write a comment about a memory of her. I would love to see how others remember her. Thanks and Goodnight


acaseofu said...

I remember sitting at your table late into the night talking to you Mom after my Dad and I have a fight. She was so nice to me that night. I really appreciated her listening to me. :-)

I think this blog is a fantastic idea. I hope it gives you a little peace to share your experiences. Plus someone somewhere is going through the same thing and this will help them get through it. :-)

Love you Lots Ms. Kimberly

Kelly B. said...

I am a little late on this goes. I recall when I was living with you guys that you and Kevin had given me slippers for Christmas one year. The fun part was your mother let me open one gift (slipper) from Kevin....and looked to you and asked if you wanted to let me open my "other" maybe I might not have figured out what it was. It was all very humorous. I really enjoyed my time with all and I thank you for letting me share in your life and family. Kelly Boardway

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