Monday, December 9, 2019

"You can have some," and other Remembered Words of Alzheimer's

I don’t remember the last time I heard my mother say, “I love you.”

I don’t remember the last time she said it to me or to anyone else.

She died this past February. But the last time I heard the words, “I love you” pass through her lips was many years before. If I had to guess, I would guess it was in 2011.

It’s hard to remember much of what she actually said to me in my life. When I was 24 she was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s disease. Even then in the early stages, conversation was difficult and awkward. Alzheimer’s was like the ugly elephant in the room stepping on our mouths, preventing the usual chatter exchanged between mother and daughter.


So I would sit and watch Family Feud with her. Or sit next to her and thumb through books of cross-stitch patterns, writing my name next to the ones I wanted her to stitch. I probably wrote my name on over a 100 of those patterns. I didn’t really want any of them. Cross-stitch wasn’t my thing, and it definitely wasn’t my style. But she learned cross-stitch when she was young, and her hands remembered it even when her mind failed her. She couldn’t work as a nurse anymore, couldn’t provide the emotional support to her children that she used to, so she spent hours on elaborate cross stitch patterns. She threaded together words and pictures almost every day. I didn’t want those pictures at the time, but I wanted to give my mother purpose- and she wanted to give us whatever she could. So I wrote my name, and she stitched.

I can’t remember many significant conversations with her. I just remember hours sharing space with her on the couches in her living room and occasionally on long walks. In later years I shared space with her in cramped nursing home bedrooms. Regardless of the venue, I strain to hear her voice in my memories.


Even when Mark proposed, I know she was one of the first people I told- but...Continue reading on Medium here

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