Is it possible to mourn someone who is still here?
The answer is yes. I’ve been mourning my mother every day since I began losing her almost eight years ago. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of her.
Gifted with her charm, her bubbly personality, a zest for life and a smile that lit up every room. I am so proud to call her my mother.
There was nothing she wouldn’t do for me or my older twin sisters. Always putting us first and sacrificing her own needs. Many hours have been spent laughing together, crying on her shoulder and being held in her arms when we needed comforting.
She is the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She is my rock and because of her, I’m who I am today. Mum taught me to never give up, follow your dreams and live life on your terms. I listened Mum and I’m doing it.
Then you came along
You made your first appearance about eight years ago. We tried to push you away and fight back. But you made it quite clear you were here to stay. Little by little you began chipping away at our mother. First, you brought confusion into her mind and disorientation. A few months later you returned and began stealing her memory. Robbing her of her short-term memory.
A year later you came back with a vengeance. Showing us you were winning. Because of you, Mum began to hallucinate. Did you enjoy it when you saw the fear in her eyes when she believed her apartment walls were covered in ants and she could no longer stay in her home? Did you get a sense of satisfaction when she was found wandering aimlessly on the city streets at three o’clock in the morning in her bathrobe, alone and afraid?
When is enough, enough?
For the last eight years, you have slowly robbed my sisters and me of our mother. Feeling helpless, I’ve watched you over the years strip her of every characteristic that made her our mother. Her youth, beauty, courage, strength, and dignity. When is enough, enough?
Our mother no longer recognizes any of her three daughters. Any recollection of us has vanished and we live with that pain every day. She now lays in bed unable to walk or talk. She has lost all of her bodily functions. You have consumed her, leaving only a battered shell. The mother we once knew has left us and will never return. Are you happy?
You know who you are
Yes, I’m talking about Vascular Dementia. A horrific disease that has invaded my mother. A heartbreaking slow death with no cure. Because of this illness, I mourn my mother. Six thousand miles away in England, we no longer talk on the phone or skype. She no longer comes for visits.
You took her before she could meet two of her grandsons. Before she could see the house my husband and I built with our own bare hands. A house my mother and I discussed for hours. Sharing in the excitement, dreaming of the day it would be built. She couldn’t wait to come stay in the guest house we had built. A place she never got to see or use. You took her before seeing my debut novel that is about to be published. I miss having my mother in my life.
I am forever grateful to my sister Jane and brother-in-law John. They are close by and take care of your every need and keep me in the loop of your deteriorating state. They send me pictures that break my heart. The thought of walking into your hospital room and seeing nothing but a blank stare, no recognition that I am your youngest daughter tears me apart.
What Dementia can’t take
This disease may have my mother in the grasp of its evil ways but what it doesn’t have and can never take are my memories of her. I will treasure these for the rest of my life. This Mother’s Day I will reflect on those memories and hold them close to my heart and reminisce on the days she was free of you. Days where we laughed, danced and sang together. Days where she told me she loved me and I told her I loved her back. Days where we took a road trip to Colorado to see her other daughter. A daughter she hadn’t seen in ten years.
This Mother’s day, I will hold my grandsons tight and tell them what a wonderful great-grandmother they have. We will share pictures together of the amazing woman they will never get to meet. Dam you dementia!
Bringing awareness to the disease dementia
In the UK, Dementia Action Week is May 21-24. Please visit the site to see if you can help.
Here in the US, it’s National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.
From my Mother and me, We want to wish every mum a happy Mother’s Day. You are loved and appreciated every day.
What are you doing to celebrate this special day?