“There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressible – a wound that will never quite heal.” Susan Wiggs
My mom’s Alzheimer’s is progressing. It’s not anything alarming such as her not knowing who I am or wandering off, it’s the little things. She becomes confused more easily, sometimes it is difficult for her to follow a conversation, and she is repeating herself more often. It is heartbreaking to watch my mom slowly drift away. Even at 40 years old, I need my mom.
I need her to help me deal with the recent passing of a friend and fellow competitor. I am having a difficult time accepting that my friend is gone. Prior to her becoming ill, she was the epitome of total wellness. She had a radiant, infectious smile that would make her stand out in a crowd. She was an accomplished runner and triathlete, a personal trainer, and a coach. She set the example on how one could live a healthy and active lifestyle in spite of having diabetes. She encouraged others to pursue a life of health and fitness by stepping out of their comfort zones. She and I competed in several races together; I will miss seeing her at races.
Initially I didn't tell my mom about my friend’s passing, but she knew something was wrong with me. When I told her, she tried her best to console me, but she had to keep asking me the same questions repeatedly to fully grasp our conversation. It hurts to see my once strong, independent mother become more and more childlike. She is completely dependent on me. I didn't think our lives would be like this.
My mom and I have been best friends ever since I moved out after my junior year in college. We both lived very independent lives, but we stayed connected by talking on the phone almost every day, sometimes several times a day. I could call her day or night, and she would be there to listen, to offer a word of wisdom, and pray over me if needed. And if I was in the wrong, she would tell me. My mom had no problem showing me tough love!
I thought she and I would go through life in our traditional mother/daughter roles, but that is not the case. I am now the mother and she is the daughter. It is my responsibility to protect her, keep her safe, and enhance her happiness. I have no issues taking care of my mom, but I would be lying if I said I was not reluctant taking on the mother role.
Early in my marriage I decided that I did not want to have children unless my husband wanted them. Fortunately for me, my husband did not want children either. Please understand, I love kids, but I never really had that desire to be a mom. Furthermore, children are a huge responsibility and they are completely dependent on you for who knows how long. I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility of being married without children. Now that my mom has Alzheimer’s, things have changed. I can no longer get up and go. I have to make sure things are in place so that my mom is ok while I am gone. She is completely dependent on me.
I manage her finances, medications, doctor appointments and pretty much any other aspect of her life. I have to know her medical history, allergic reactions, and what medications she is taking. I practically have to think for 2 people. Usually I can handle the responsibility, but some days it’s just overwhelming. And I don’t know how I am going to handle if and when things get worse. One thing I know for sure, I do not want my mom to die of Alzheimer’s. I pray God will transition her before she becomes a complete non-functioning shell of herself.
Until that time comes I will do the best I can to look after my mom and enjoy those glimpses of her that appear more often than not. I know I can’t turn back time nor is there a cure for Alzheimer’s, but I wish I could have my mom back. I need her.