Losing Mom, one memory at a time
By Melissa Bond
For the Salisbury Post
Sometimes I wonder whether it was the same way for my mother ó the slow slipping away of the mind.
I am forgetting little details, like where I put my keys or how to spell a familiar word.
I worry that perhaps I am at the very beginning stage of Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that’s slowly robbing my mother of her personality and her independence.
When my mother was diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the guilt set in.
Why didn’t I see this coming? What, if anything, could I have done sooner to head it off? Why did I move from Salisbury to Concord?
Now, looking back, I think I first noticed there was a problem when I took my mother to renew her driver’s license. She couldn’t remember the street signs. I must have taken her to three DMV offices. She kept saying, “It’s my eyes, they’re going bad.”
When they enlarged the screen, I saw her face change, and it wasn’t my mother’s face anymore. It was the face of a woman who was old and scared.
I think that’s when she knew it wasn’t her eyes. Something was wrong.
My mother wasn’t about to talk to me about her fears, let alone seek medical help. She probably felt that what she was experiencing was just the normal course of aging.
By the time of my mother’s diagnosis, she was beginning to repeat the same questions over and over:
“What time is it?”
“What day is it?”
“Do you go to work tonight?”
I had also noticed that Alzheimer’s had made her lose her ability to distinguish when people were scamming her or meant to do her harm. She picked up a total stranger (a woman). The woman had convinced her to take some money out of her bank account and give it to her. My mother worked hard for her money and to just give it away was totally out of character.
Before she developed Alzheimer’s, my mother and I enjoyed going shopping. We would act like teenagers. We would joke and laugh with each other. We would just have fun.
So I took her shopping. I needed to laugh with her. But the whole time we were in the store, she held on to my arm and followed me like a scared child.
My vision blurred as tears slowly ran down my face. That’s when I realized that no matter how much I begged or how hard I prayed, my mother is slowly slipping away. I can’t help but feel I’ve been robbed by Alzheimer’s also. I will never have a normal day or a normal conversation with her again.
I didn’t write this to gain sympathy. I wrote this to encourage you to spend time with your mother. Hold on to her smile, her laughter and her voice. I know that one day, my mother is not going to know who I am. But her smile, her voice and her laughter, I will remember forever.
I miss my best friend.
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Melissa Bond is the daughter of Gertrude Brown, who lives in Salisbury.An Alzheimer’s Family Support Group meets regularly at the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks in Salisbury. Information: 704-637-3784, extension 730.