Thursday, December 08, 2005

This is a letter to my mother, for my mother, though I am sure she’ll never read it. It’s also for anyone who is curious, who wonders what goes on in my life. I have a feeling this is what a blog is for, but I have a hard time bringing it up to large groups of people. I don’t seek attention, nor do I need/want people to feel bad for me. I do, however, want to keep those I love informed of what is happening. So I’m gonna suck it up and put it out there. It is exhausting to keep repeating things. So if you don’t know, don’t take offense. I want to let you in, I just may not know how to do it. This can serve as a place in which to get things out. Take it however you want. But know that I consider it a privilege when people allow me into their lives, and I have decided to return the favor.

Dear Mom,

Regardless of the person that I see now, and have seen slowly changing for the past four years, you will always be my mother. The short and fiery woman that always found something to laugh at, no matter how dire the situation. The woman who possessed a zeal for watching and taping movies that will never be surpassed. The mother who fed me peanut butter straight from the jar, and single-handedly formed an intense taste for PB that I will never tire of. The woman who made it so much fun to be at our house. The woman who never stopped making sure everyone knew they were loved.

But you have changed. And this letter is just as much for me as it is for you. Call it dementia, call it Alzheimer’s – what you have should never affect a 58-year old. So, at the suggestion of my roomie, I am writing you something that maybe you can always keep with you and read, no matter what is going on.

You see, Mom, I have said goodbye to you on countless occasions, in a myriad of different ways, and it’s never fully real. Everytime I say goodbye to you now, I assume it will be the last time I see you. It’s a constant mourning, a grief that never goes away. I know you don’t know this, but I swear there’s a you inside, deep down, that is my mother. You haven’t gone away. You’re there, and I’m sure you sit back in amazement at the disease you carry, just like the rest of your family. You just do it from a place far from the surface.

It is a great privilege that I have had the chance to take care of someone who spent many years of her life taking care of me. I know you understand less and less of what’s going on, but I can still lay my head down on your shoulders, close my eyes, and I am 7 again, sick, bedridden, and you are sitting next to me, rubbing my forehead, saying, “It’s gonna be alright. You’re fine, you’re fine…”

It’s so hard to see you know, staring off into space, looking right past me when I catch your eye (or, perhaps, looking deep within me), being a shell of the person I grew up with, the person that formed me into who I am, and who I will continue to be.

But I have a small sliver of hope, of faith, that you still recognize me, and will continue to know who I am, even when your face shows no recognition. Alzheimer’s can’t take away the love you have known, or the life you have led…or the kids you have raised.

It can’t take away who you are. You are my mother.


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