My mother has Alzheimer’s disease.
She is still capable of being present – in the moment – as the mother I have always known and whose love is felt.
There are times she is not. And during some of these times, her frustration, depression and rage erupt. She becomes verbally abusive. Her venom, language and anger are staggering. This person is a stranger to me but still my mother.
As an adult, I know her hurtful words are a symptom of the disease. But the child in me is often reduced to tears by this verbal abuse. It is painful to be the object of such anger and, yes, hate.
I have learned that attempting to stem this tide of venom is futile. I stay with her and listen for as long as I can endure it but eventually have to leave. I believe it is often my presence (and that of my sisters) which prompts the rage. We are the ones who placed her in the nursing home. As she sees it, we took away her life.
There are other moments when my increasingly frail mother is simply very, very sad. During these times, she is very much aware – knows she has this disease, what it is doing to her and what is to come. She fights it. Doing so exhausts her. I admire her courage, strength and determination but her struggling efforts break my heart.
There is always a next stage with Alzheimer’s and it is always worse. You cannot anticipate when that stage will come or what it will be like. But when it comes, you do your best to deal with it. My best isn’t good enough. I can’t make anything right – I can’t fix things for my mother. She lives with the nightmare of this disease – my sisters and I live with guilt, frustration and despair. And tears.
For those of you experiencing a similar tragedy, my heartfelt sympathy.
For those of you who someday might, I have no words of wisdom or advice.
My mother was determined to attend my son’s wedding. She managed to make it through the ceremony but then became confused, disoriented and exhausted. She had to leave.
We took her out for her birthday dinner last night. She was very quiet but was able to read her birthday cards aloud and blessed us with her smiles. When we took her back to the nursing home she didn’t remember having had dinner.
She is already anxious as to coming here for Thanksgiving dinner but when the time comes she will rally and want to be with us. Surrounded by loved ones, she will still experience moments of feeling lost and overwhelmed. We will all take turns sitting quietly beside her.