My mom has left us yet again.
I went to visit my mother today. She has been in a neuro psych hospital in Indiana. My 26 year old son went with me. When we arrived after a two and a half hour drive, they put us in a small room with a couch and a chair and told us they would go get mom.
A few minutes later, they wheeled her into the room and the nurse left. I very enthusiastically said "Hi mom!" In the past, this was always followed by a big smile and a "hello sweetie", but not today. She tried to focus on my face and went from a very blank stare to a considerably confused stare.
It was at that moment that I realized that she had no idea who I was. I asked her if she knew my name and she did not answer. I explained that I was her daughter, Diane and that the gentleman with me was her grandson, Eric. She seemed to have a slight recognition of our names and stated "I know”; however, it was very evident that she had no idea at all who either of us were.
She appeared to be having trouble focusing on us. I felt she looked tired and older and while this upset me, I was selfishly focused on the idea that my mother no longer knew who I was. I knew this day was coming and told myself that I was okay with it... ya right! It hurt like hell. The tears came and I worked hard to stop them so as not to upset my mother.
My son (God Bless him) worked quickly to distract his grandmother while I pulled it together. We attempted to "visit" with her, but this proved rather futile. She repeatedly stated "I have to go." I asked her where she had to go and she was not sure. She continued to make some nonsensical statements as we tried to refocus her attention.
We brought her favorite family photo album with us hoping that maybe it would be useful in sparking some conversation or perhaps help her with even a slight recollection of her loved ones. This was not to be. I am not sure that she is at all aware that she has a family anymore.
Perhaps the meds are partially to blame or perhaps the illness has just progressed to this point. I can't be sure, but the bottom line is that she did not know her daughter of 55 years or her grandson of 26 years. I can tell myself that it is okay because we knew it was coming and after all, this is what happens to people with Alzheimer’s.
So, why did I feel as if I were just kicked in the gut? I somehow felt suddenly orphaned even though I was sitting there holding my mom's hand and looking at her face; her tired, confused, but still beautiful face. I wanted to ask her if she was in there somewhere behind those scared, confused big brown eyes. Instead, I opted to hug her with all my might and tell her how very much I loved her.
I truly pray that she felt the love I intended and that it somehow will stay with her so she will feel even a tiny bit less alone. My son hugged her as well. She was beginning to become a bit agitated and we did not want this to escalate, so we decided it was best if we left before that happened. Keeping mom calm has become essential.
I brought her stuffed dog (that she had named Jake) with us and tried to give it to her, hoping it would provide some comfort to her as it did once before, but she wouldn't take it. I felt so helpless in being able to leave her with some type of comfort and some was to ensure she would know she was loved by her family, but I failed. I couldn't come up with a way to accomplish this very important task.
I suppose that this may not be possible and leaves me feeling very, very sad. I will probably continue to cry for a while and then move on doing what needs to be done for the mom that is now a hollow version of the original.
She is still our mom and I believe that the best course of action is to just continue to love her and hope to reach her somewhere deep inside where I choose to believe that she still feels her family's love. I love you mom. I always have and I always will!
Thank you to my son Eric for being there for me today.
To all those out there struggling with this evil disease, you have my heartfelt prayers.
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Filed under: Alzheimer's