One of the first things to go out the window when you’re life has been taken over by Alzheimer’s disease is the mother/daughter relationship. It’s stretched, pulled, and kneaded until it resembles something well unrecognizable.
Your mother has known you as long as you’ve known you. The first arms that cuddled you when you cried, the first one that changed your diapers, fixed your hair for school, snapped your picture at graduation with a tear in her eye and a huge smile on her face. She straightened your veil before you walked down the aisle and probably gave you some sage, outdated advice on the way. She was the first one you called when your baby was sick in the middle of the night even before the pediatrician. Whatever the memory, your mother was probably there behind the scenes rooting you on or drying your tears.
You’ve never known it any other way. It’s life’s circle, she did it for me, I did it for my daughter, and now my daughter is doing it for hers. We’ve witnessed that relationship since the beginning of time. Your mother is where you go for comfort and support. For knowledge and strength. For grace and hope and anything else you may need.
Then Alzheimer’s moves in and takes over the house. You notice little changes at first. Nothing specific, a confused look followed by a little bit of fear. Maybe a few months later you notice that she has forgotten your birthday or maybe she forgot her own birthday. She gets frustrated easily and asking for help is nearly impossible for her. She is supposed to be in charge. She’s the mother, but something feels different. It’s hard to explain sort of a like an old favorite sweater that no longer fits.
Time crawls by and days turn into weeks and before you know it you’re paying her bills, taking her to the doctor, filling her prescriptions, paying her taxes, maintaining her house, grocery shopping, hair appointments. It seems like a lot, but in the months and years to come you’ll realize how good you really had it back then.
You cook her meals, take care of her when she’s sick, hold her when she’s scared. You’re her biggest support, the first one she turns to when she’s scared, lonely, or confused. You’re her guiding light, her constant companion, and her very best friend.
Years slide by at a snail’s pace and you find yourself bathing your mother, changing her diapers, washing her hair, feeding her, singing to her, showing her pictures anything to keep her with you for just a few moments in time. The love you have always felt for her is still there, but it has taken on a whole new look. You need to protect her, you need to make her smile, you need to keep her healthy…just like she did for you.
The mother/daughter relationship doesn’t resemble what it once did… it becomes so much more.