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Friday, March 3, 2017

Remember - Precious Memories 19

 Long ago, far away
Life was clear
Close your eyes
Remember, is a place from long ago 
Remember, filled with everything you know 
Remember, when you're sad and feelin' down 
Remember, turn around 
Remember, life is just a memory 
Remember, close your eyes and you can see 
Remember, think of all that life can be 
                                                                       Remember by Harry Nilsson 

I am wearing her “signature” scent today. 

A soft gentle “mom” breeze swirls quietly around me, with each move I make. Permeating the air, it causes me to stop and breathe deep. I feel a sense of comfort and peace in her scent. 

I remember. 

When I reflect on our journey through Alzheimer’s, there are moments it feels like it took forever. And then there are times when it seems like just a miniscule flash of time, and it was over before I could comprehend that it had started. 

From actual diagnosis to death, was almost three years. But my mom was diagnosed much later than she should have been, due to circumstances beyond my control. The specialist we saw, determined an approximate starting point based on the journal I had kept of her symptoms. As best as I can figure, my mom spent well over a decade with this disease.  

She fought a good fight. 

Alzheimer’s is terminal, though I rarely heard it addressed that way. There is no cure, no one recovers, and there are no survivors. Daunting as that may be, this is the reality of the disease. 

When I began to first notice changes in my mom, she was what the professionals would probably have considered “mild impairment.” This meant, that though there were significant changes going on, we really couldn’t distinguish dementia from normal “age related” memory loss, at that point. 

The signs and warnings were there. 

We braced ourselves. It was going to get worse before she would finally be at peace. 

I could easily sit and make a list of all I have lost to Alzheimer’s. And it wasn’t just memories. I lost time with my mom, conversations, opportunities, hugs, smiles, connections….and that’s just a few things. 

I lost my closest friend and favorite lunch date. 

But for as much as I lost, I look back and realized I gained some things too. I gained strength and patience. I learned about peace in the midst of the impossible. 

I learned about unconditional love. 

I learned what it meant to grieve, many times over. I gained an understanding of what real compassion and empathy looks like. I learned that I could somehow keep going, by God’s grace, when I was so exhausted I had nothing left. 

I learned what it means to love someone so much, you do things you never thought you could (or would have to do). Like bathing your parent, or handling their personal care. Assisting your parent with their bathroom needs is a humbling experience. She needed me and I had to step up. 

I learned to appreciate the bond I had with her and the years we were given after my dad passed away. 

I learned to be grateful for what I had, because not all women have a relationship with their mother, like I had with mine. 

I learned most of all, that I have something beautiful, to remember

*The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  

You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 

You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Momma Said This Would Happen - Precious Memories 18

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