"And remembering …
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges."
– Gwendolyn Brooks
In 2000 my mother was diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She was 66 years old. She was confused and distraught, and she worried about herself and about us.
I remember the doctor who administered the test telling my father and me that the disease would impact us all and that in some ways, it was harder on the caregivers than on the patient. At the time, I didn’t understand how that could be true; then we watched as my mother forgot herself and each of us along the way.
We were very close, my mother and I, and it was painful to have her not recognize me. It was doubly hard to have her not involved in the rearing of her long-awaited and much-beloved grandchildren.
For 15 years, she faded further and further. She looked like my mother and even had my mother’s sweet disposition (mostly), but her memory disintegrated little by little, and then her body followed.
For the last ten months of her life, she was in hospice care. Each time I saw her, I thought it would be the last time. Honestly, I prayed for it to be the last time as it was too painful to watch her fade away. We had all been saying ‘goodbye’ for so long.
I think about her almost every day. I try to reconstruct her illness and to celebrate her life. This timeline helps bear witness to her life ... that she lived, loved, laughed, struggled, and was cherished… and to confirm that even though she suffered from a deep forgetting, that she is not forgotten.
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