The love of a mother

My brother Jeff and his partner, Tom, joined me for a visit with Mom not long ago. Jeff and Tom were in town for a celebration of my dad’s 75th birthday (which followed, by about a month, the 20th anniversary of his heart transplant. This is a big year for him!).

During our visit, we experienced a range of Mom’s emotions. She was asleep when we arrived, on a couch in the program area. Since this was a one-shot deal, I decided it would be worth it to wake Mom. Her knees were elevated, and I started rubbing and tickling her legs to wake her up. Her eyes stayed closed. I tried a few more times, shouting at her to wake up. It looked like it might be futile. And then her eyes opened. She lay there cheerfully for awhile, and eventually sat up. We chatted with her and laughed at her and with her. We wondered about taking a walk with her but things were going well so we just let her lead the way. And then, independently, she stood up.

We just sort of did a slow dance in the general area of the couch, again following Mom’s lead, shuffling around and interacting as well as we could as a foursome. She seemed to be having fun and enjoying the attention. She said the occasional word, but I don’t remember the specifics. It’s tempting to try to find meaning in what she’s saying, but it’s hard to know what to really think. But we all responded in the affirmative, about everything.

Tom, Mom and Jeff. It's tough to catch Mom standing still.

Tom, Mom and Jeff. It’s tough to catch Mom standing still.

With her fully occupied and it being a work day, I decided to return to work. Jeff and Tom stayed behind with Mom. Tom told me later that she maintained a pleasant disposition for awhile and then became a little bit fretful. Eventually, she returned to the couch and reclined, potentially ready to return to her original plan for a nap.

Mom and Jeff, her only son. Lots of smiles.

Mom and Jeff, her only son. Lots of smiles.

He also told me that Mom said to Jeff, “I love you.” We’re not sure, but that could have been a first. Our family was not big on saying the L word as we were growing up – Mom especially. Patrick, who grew up in a more expressive family, may have coaxed Mom to say it to me, or to him, or to us, a few times over the years. Always with some discomfort on her part, and, truth be told, on my part, too. But with her default setting – no anxiety, general contentment, lack of inhibition, spur-of-the-moment exclamations – Mom has verbally expressed her love to me many times. Every time it happens – less frequently now – I soak it up, and I tell her I love her, too. That she is confused, doesn’t know me and has no memories does not matter at all. A kid just wants to hear those words from a mom, no matter the circumstances.

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6 comments so far

  1. Becky Honeywell on

    Wonderful post. And you are so, so right.

  2. momsbrain on

    Thank you, Becky. I noticed after writing this that higher up in the post I said it’s tricky to apply meaning to any words Mom might say. But when she says, “I love you,” I’ve decided to interpret that as meaningful. Alzheimer’s breeds inconsistency like that…

  3. patwhite67 on

    Emily, I loved reading about the visit. Am so glad to know your brother Jeff came and had a good visit with your mom.

  4. momsbrain on

    Hi, Pat – Thanks for reading! I was glad, too, that Jeff had a good visit. One never knows what to expect…

  5. dementedgirl on

    Hi Mombrain,

    I am a fellow caregiver and just came across your blog – sorry to see you are in the same position, but if you are anything like me I hope your website provides some sort of outlet…

    I have been a young(ish!) carer for my mother-in-law, who suffers from dementia, for the last three years now.

    I am in the process of creating a new poetry site primarily aimed at carers, but also people with dementia as well – http://dementiapoetry.com.

    The blog is an honest account of my experience of caring over the last few years in poems – some silly, some exasperated, some happy, some sad – of my last three years caring for my mother-in-law, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and is aimed at helping to support other caregivers in a similar position.

    If you would be happy to link to me, I would gladly return the favour!

    DG x

  6. momsbrain on

    Hi, DementedGirl: Done! Your poetry is now in my caregiving blog roll. I’m all for humor and political incorrectness when it comes to addressing Alzheimer’s disease… Thanks for commenting! And yes, the blog is an important outlet for me, most definitely.


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