As my summer vacation began, the same week as my birthday,
I reflected on some conversations that I have recently shared
with my mother.
The one thing for sure,
since she now has Alzheimer’s, is that she has no idea
of when my birthday is, or
how old I now am. Honestly speaking, her not being able to remember
my age is not such a bad thing. She has no memory of the day
that she gave birth to me, nor when she held me in her arms
for the very first time. On a good day when I tell her how old
I am, she is able to joke around with me and tell me that I
am catching up to her.
My father is no longer
alive and so for me, I do not have a parent that can celebrate
the day that they welcomed me into the world. I just thanked
my mom on my birthday for bringing me into the world and she
answered with “how did I bring you into the world”?
“Mom, you gave birth to me”. She seemed surprised
and confused about what I had just said. I knew from the moment
I called her that this was not a great day for her. Fortunately,
on many days she can still be quick witted and sharp. This was
not one of those days.
I am not saddened from
this, although it can cause a pang in my heart. For me it is
an observation of what is. When earlier in the week I had mentioned
to my mom that it will be my birthday in several days she then
said, “oh I hope I will remember”. I quickly reassured
her not to worry for I would certainly remind her. When my mom
says things like this, I smile to myself sensing innocence in
her as if she were a young child.
These childlike ways
seem to go hand and hand with having Alzheimer’s, and
at these moments we seem to reverse our roles of mother and
daughter. I am able to accept all of this, and as life goes
on, I can hold on to how lucky I am that my mom still remembers
who I am. I still get to hear her sweet voice say my name.
My mom and I did not
always have a close relationship, although I loved her for being
my mother. Yet somewhere in my teens and later on when I was
already married with a child of my own, we often had these fighting
matches. Mom always thought that I started them, and I always
thought that it was she who started them.
None of this matters
anymore, for I was given a second chance after my mom became
ill, to fall madly in love with her. This statement is not an
exaggeration but only the truth. My mom has become my hero and
each day I am able to love and cherish all that we still can
As I awake each day,
in the morning I phone her, and within the first few seconds
of our conversation, I immediately know what kind of day she
is having. I can hear it in her voice and how she responds to
whatever I say. I am a long distance caregiver, which saddens
me that we do not live close to one another.
Although I believe she
is now in stage 5-6, she has been doing relatively wonderful.
Wonderful meaning that she is still able to spell and enjoys
singing along with me. She can remember the lyrics to some songs,
although she has no memory of most other things. Her answers
are many times humorous and her quick sharp responses always
seem to amaze me.
For here is a women
that cannot remember the day her own daughter was born, or my
husband of thirty years, yet somehow she lights up my life.
My mom continues to inspire me each and every day.
I try to imagine a world
one day without Alzheimer’s. Over 5 million people in
the United States have this disease and it is the 6th leading
cause of death in the United States. As of now it cannot be
prevented, slowed or cured. Alzheimer’s costs the nation
over $200 billion dollars a year. There are over 15,000,000
caregivers many who are family members caring for the person
with Alzheimer’s. Every 68 seconds in the United States,
someone new is diagnosed with this disease.
I am completely committed
to spreading awareness about Alzheimer’s throughout the
world. It is a horrific disease that has no boundaries. It is
truly a worldwide epidemic that has no nationality and no country
that it would not attack. I hope that you might like to join
me in the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
Copyright © 2012
by Lisa Hirsch
- Article by Lisa
Hirsch exclusively for Assisted Living Directory