The Disease that Keeps on Taking

This morning when I opened up Facebook, I saw I had a message from a good friend of mine. It read, “My thoughts, love, and prayers are with you today.”
I thought to myself, “How very nice of her to say this.”
Then I read it again and thought, “This is what people usually say when you’re having an operation or you’re starting a new adventure or when you lose someone.”
So, I wrote back to her saying, “Thank You, but why do you say this today?”
Then I looked at the date, January 14th, and tried to think of anything that happened on this day.
Sadness all of a sudden overtook me.

10830689_10204543352758086_1036799725875045458_oI walked over to my desk to look at my “reminder board” and at the top are 2 Prayer Cards from the funeral services of my Dad (2/8/10) and Mom (1/14/15). I knew before I looked but I had to verify, not just that today was the 1 year Anniversary of my Mom’s death, but to realize I had forgotten.
Hours later as I am writing this, tears still flow, not just because she is no longer of this earth but because of the disease I share with her, the disease that took her mind and memories, that same disease that is now taking mine . . . Alzheimer’s.

You know, it’s strange how the Alzheimer’s mind works. The memories don’t come back on their own. A bit of prompting is needed. So, as I sit here trying to remember details of that day, the one and only memory that comes to mind is of a phone call from my sister.
When I first saw her number pop up I froze. You see, my Mom had a stroke a week or so previously and she could no longer chew her food, or swallow for that matter, so a decision was made to allow her to be comfortable and pass away in peace. (This may not be exactly factual but it’s the way I remember it and that’s good enough for me.)

Anyway, my brothers, my sister, my nieces and nephews all went to say their goodbyes10931127_10204543328837488_6014411360357330344_n but my Mom, who always had a strong will, just kept hanging on, as if she was waiting for something. That is what prompted my sister to call.

You see, I live in FL, I was just diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s about 2 1/2 months previously and I was only driving sparingly. Making a trip at that point was not possible.
Anyway, my sister called and said, “Everyone has been by to see Momma, everyone but you. I know you can’t be here physically but I think she is holding on to hear your voice. I’m going to put you on speakerphone and I want you to tell her good-bye and that it’s OK to go.”
It was the hardest, yet the most beautiful thing I have ever done.

So, I had a “one-sided” conversation with my Mom. I told her about my Alzheimer’s diagnosis and since we shared so many things in our lives (I was the youngest and a bit spoiled by my Mom and my sister) why not share Alzheimer’s as well.  I told her how well I was being taken care of by Shannon, Asheton and Bradley and how I couldn’t feel more loved.
I then told her that it was OK to go. It seems she had taken care of so many people during her lifetime that maybe she felt she still had more to do. I let her know that everyone was in a good place and that she could now go where she could finally rest. (like I said before, this may not be EXACTLY what I said, but it’s what I remember).

My sister told me that while she was listening to my voice, there was eye movement under her eyelids as if she was aware. I’m not sure if that was possible but because we know so little about Alzheimer’s, anything is possible. I don’t remember if I sang to her to her or not (we shared a love of music as well as singing) but I would like to think I did. I told her I loved her and then spoke to my sister gain.

A few hours later, I received another phone call to let me know she was gone.

As hard as I try, I don’t remember anything of the days that followed. Maybe that’s a good thing. I’m sure they were filled with sadness and I’m probably better off not remembering.

All of this makes me wonder . . . “Do people in the last stages of Alzheimer’s still hear and understand but just can’t communicate back?” I hope so. I hope I can still hear the voices of my loved ones when my time comes. I want to hear their voices and music and all the things that make me happy. I can only hope.

Next year, I don’t know know if I will forget this day again but if I do, I hope someone will remind me. For now, for today, while I still do remember, I will think fondly of the woman who . . .
– gave me life
– taught me to always open doors for people – especially ladies and the elderly
– to say yes sir and yes ma’am
– taught me to always carry a handkerchief
– shared with me her love of music and gave me my singing voice
– loved me unconditionally and with all her heart

I love you Mom and always will.
Rest in Eternal Peace. Hope Dad isn’t bothering you too much and I’ll see you soon.
At that time, we’ll find some place to sit, put on the Sound of Music soundtrack, sing and reminisce . . . clearly.

Until then, I will keep on keepin’ on, trying not to burden Shannon and the kids too much and continue doing what I do and I do it in honor of YOU!

PEACE
B

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “The Disease that Keeps on Taking

  1. I believe that those last moments in our lives we do have a blink of recognition. My mom was in hospice and they told us she was ready to go so I called her brother and sister who live out of town and told them that she couldn’t talk, but the nurses said she could hear so I held the phone by her ear. I saw her nodding her head so I know she heard. I’m hopeful that your mom heard you too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful Brian! I agree & believe with all my heart that people in the last stages CAN hear us and just can’t communicate to us. Sorry again about your mom. Take care, bro! 🙂 Robin

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is so beautifully written in so many ways. I want to thank you for opening your heart and sharing with us. Your love and respect for you mom made me cry. A good cry. Please don’t feel bad that you didn’t remember the date your mom passed. I used to remember the dates and years my grandparents, dad, brother all left this earth. But I think I’ve forgotten because sometimes our minds try to protect us from the hurt of the loss. Not because we don’t care, or still miss them, as I know we do, But because we have our own struggles we are trying to live with that can be overwhelming.
    I wish for you, the time to tell everyone you love how much they mean to you. And maybe not just family. We tend to not always express to our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and many others, just how much they have meant to us during our lives. I myself have recently told a friend I’ve worked with for 13 years, how special and important she is to me. And I realized it needed to be said because my husband had a stroke on New Years day, and she called to ask how not only he was doing, but how i was too. I care for my mom with Alzheimers, so she was genuinly concerned for my well being too. How could i not tell her how special she is to me. Its now my mission, after reading you letter, to start telling everyone who has touched my life, that they have made a difference. You may have been diagnosed, but unlike someone who tragically dies in an accident, you and I and hopefully many others still have the ability to tell others what a beautiful part they have played in our lives. The ability to do that is a gift in itself. So for you sir, I wish you peace in your journey. Thank you again . Chris

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was beautiful, Brian. You were a wonderful son to your mother. She must be so very proud of you as she prays for you and helps you with your early-onset Alzheimer’s watching over you from Heaven. Teresa Mohler Blankenbeck (Your Chamber Buddy)

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s