Remembering my Mom…What Alzheimer’s Gives and Takes

 

On this Mother’s Day I am blessed to still have my mom at almost 90 years old. 

For years I’ve had the tradition of giving my mom a Birthday gift on my birthday.  I started this tradition after I had my first child as it was at the moment of my sons birth that I realized what my mom did for me.  She always appreciated my gift, but I am not quite sure she knew why I honored her on my birthday.  She would always say to me “how thoughtful of you, but it’s your birthday so I’m supposed to be giving you a present, not you giving me one”! 

One thing my mom and I always shared was our love for shopping for clothes together.  We are always laughing from store to store about how ridiculous one out-fit looked on us until we found just the ‘right’ look and being very pleased with ourselves when that happened. I know one of the things she loved about me the most was that I made her laugh. Even if our conversations were heated at times and she didn’t necessarily feel like laughing somehow we always ended up laughing in the end.

My mother and I always had a very close physical connection too.  We were huggers and hand holders. 

The reason this sounds like what my mom and I had is in the past tense as if she has passed away already is because my mom has Alzheimer’s disease.  She can no longer say my name or seem to recognize who I am, but parts of our relationship is still very much there. 

I can still make her laugh and we hug and hold hands constantly when I go to visit.  So Alzheimer’s has taken away us being able to share our past memories with words, but it has not taken away laughter or the comfort of holding on to each other.

My mom was a fantastic reader her whole life and literally would pick up just about anything to read.  She gave me that gift too.  Now all she reads is Dr. Seuss.  So I gave my mom the Dr. Seuss classic “Are you my mother?” and I read it to her every time I visit.  At the end of the book she always turns to me and lifts her eyebrows and smiles and I say, “Did you know you are my mother?”  She then always looks at me very intently and says, “Oh, really, that’s good, right?”  And I always laugh and say back to her, “Yes mom that is really good!”  She laughs again and I give her a huge hug.

So Alzheimer’s has taken away certain things but it hasn’t taken away the laughter and touch and that is what I cherish on this Mother’s Day.  I celebrate what I do have and try not to focus on what Alzheimer’s has taken away.

On this Mother’s Day I invite you to celebrate your cherished memories if even they are only moments of greatness with your mom.  Appreciating mothers for who they are, Dr. Ann