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Life Lessons Are Not Always Easy
By Mary Muir, M.Ed. 

(Page 1 of 2)

This week has taken me on a journey I never wanted to take. For the first time, my mother does not know me. She has lost all connection to my face, my identity and my voice. For the past five years, Mom has been suffering with Alzheimer’s and lives in a rest home nearby. Every day, my husband and I have visited her and taken her out for a ride or for tea. It has been a special ritual that helped her quality of life and provided sensory stimulation Likewise, it has given us the satisfaction of knowing she looked forward to our times together.

In December, she became 100 years old. Even then, she was able to walk without a cane and chat about the simple joys of nature, trees, sunshine, clouds and changing weather. I often joked that she is my best teacher on focusing and coming into the present moment.

July 2009 will long live in my memory. It is the beginning of an ending. It marks the beginning of an end of life as we knew it and an ending of a life as her only child, her daughter.

After returning from a few days’ vacation, my husband and I were both shocked to find that my mom has “lost” any memory of us or the fact that we are married. She has forgotten entirely that we have been coming to see her daily for the past five years. She continues to ask me who I am, if I know where her daughter is and why her daughter never comes to visit.

I am familiar with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. I knew that this could happen one day, although one is never prepared for the emotional impact of becoming a total stranger to your own mother.

These changes are further evidence that the disease in now progressing full scale to take away even the smallest consolations we had as caregivers and that she had as an Alzheimer’s victim.

Unless one has had an “up close and personal” encounter with a family member who has dementia, it is difficult to imagine the heartbreak it creates and the amount of emotional readjustment it demands from both caregiver and loved one.


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