My mom is a very kind, generous person, and has been very supportive throughout my adult life. She’s now 70 years old, though she doesn’t look quite that old. I got those genes I guess. I generally get guessed to be about 10 years younger than I am, just as she always has.
She was the Valedictorian of her class in High School (an academic title typically conferred upon the highest ranked student within the graduating class of an educational institution) and was Phi Beta Kappa (Phi Beta Kappa is generally considered the most prestigious American college honor society, and membership is one of the highest honors that can be conferred on undergraduate liberal arts and science students) at a prestigious university in Cleveland, Ohio, graduating with a Bachelors Degree, Summa Cum Laude. This is all to say, she’s smart. Really smart. Her identity comes from being smart. This is what she is known for.
So, what happens when a really, really smart person begins to lose their mental faculties? My mom is now diagnosed as being in the early stages of dementia, likely Alzheimer’s but they won’t know for sure until time passes and it’s seen to get worse or not. Her father, a research chemist, died with Alzheimer’s at the age of 82. In the last two years of his life he had no idea who his kids and grandkids were. Is this what my mom has to look forward to? How will she identify herself when she feels stupid because she forgets everything? How hard will it be for her to give up driving because she gets lost every time she goes out? How do her kids relate to her when she is no longer the smart woman they grew up with? I already don’t know how to relate to her anymore. Sometimes I feel I have to take care of her like a child. It feels like babysitting some days.
And, honestly, I’ve never even totally resolved my anger with her for leaving us when I was 5. Yes, my dad was cheating, she had good reasons to leave, and yes, she came back a few months later, but not to our apartment. She moved to a nearby house with strangers and it stunk of baby diapers, and then later an apartment with her crazy new boyfriend and his dogs. I forgive her, but I get angry for having to take care of her sometimes when I feel like she didn’t take care of me when she was supposed to. Sounds kind of dumb I guess, but there it is. It is what it is.
Also, if Alzheimer’s is genetic, what kind of dice have my brother and I rolled? This scares me greatly. I’m not terribly scared to die, but I’m terribly afraid to live without my senses. I’m praying there will be a cure or a vaccine or something before I get it. I probably have 30 years or less for this to happen. If not, well, it’s been nice knowing ya. Forgive me if I don’t know who you are.
December 11th, 2007 at 7:38 pm
What a scary thing with so many emotions to deal with. I’m sorry for what your mother is going through and might go through in the future, and I wish you strength and peace in dealing with the situation.
December 12th, 2007 at 10:26 am
horrible. i’m sorry.
doctors, drug companies, etc seem to have made some advancements with treatments for alzheimers, haven’t they?
December 12th, 2007 at 9:10 pm
wow. i bet your mom must be terrified too. my mom is younger, but still has prized her intelligence most of all, and it has been hard for her to notice her mind slowing down. i guess the identity has to shift to something else, or else it just gets lost in the past, right?
and what a complicated situation it is for you. much grace and peace to you as all these things keep coming up. it sounds really really hard.
December 13th, 2007 at 4:34 pm
The natural supplement Acetyl L-Carnitine, as well as the herb Ginkgo biloba, have alot of really significant research behind them as far as alzeimers. I’ve seen it do wonderful things for people. They ar e fairly inexpensive and worth a try!
December 20th, 2007 at 1:09 am
i think you should start doing the crosswords with me.also, can we have dinner again? meet your lovely daughter? i’ll drive out there. really, i will.