Tom, I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad a person who loved to be moving through the world, even the liquid parts, no longer has to suffer being bed-bound. She raised up a good son. She inspired her neighbor to swim. I hope she's free now, her spirit immersed in our beautiful night air.
on a day when the world is full of such sadness and despair, it's quite something to drop past this thread, read the love of a family for their mother and matriarch, her impact on friends and community, and how friends of the next generations will also honour her memory.
May her memory always bring blessings and sweet thoughts.
Very sorry for your loss, Tom. Our deepest condolences.
So very sorry for your loss.
My condolences Tom. May she RIP.
My grandmother had dementia for many years. Otherwise, she was relatively healthy considering her age. Similar to your mother Tom, she was never diagnosed with Alzheimer's but I don't think that really mattered. She remembered my mother as a little girl when she visited. I think it was very hard for my mother to see her in that condition.
My condolences Tom.
I'm so sorry Tom.
Sorry to hear about your loss. My condolences to you and your family.
I only know you here online, but please also accept my condolences for you and your family.
Tom, I'm very sorry for your loss and what you and your family have been through dealing with your mother's illness.
Tom, for many of us a big part of our mourning for our loved ones - parents and beloved elders and also our peers is that we are smacked in the face with the reality of our own demise some day. Yet reckoning with that simple fact, I think we eventually accept the inevitable and reflect upon the past and the present and most of all the future. You have a lot to process right now but many of us know how you feel and hope you will find peace over time.
mlj, you're quite right. Watching my mother rot away over time has made me more aware of my mortality. It got me thinking about how I want to die and how I want not to die. It got me thinking about how long I want to live. Not too long. This was too long for her, and she knew she didn't want to be in such an undignified state. Yet she fell into it, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. We knew she was where she didn't want to end up, and we were helpless, because no one was going to suffocate her to death.
It's made me aware that the quality of the rest of my life hinges somewhat on how well I pay attention to my health. I'm doing fairly well but I can and must do better. So I've been seeing doctors and dentists that I've been deferring.
There is no nice way to put this into words, it just plain sucks. Watching someone slip away bit by bit, but their body hanging on, sucks.
My grandmother has dementia. Ten to fifteen years ago she would do things like confuse me (her granddaughter) with her niece, who she insisted was her granddaughter. Or I would tell her that I would help her with something later in the week and the next day she would call me up, livid that I had promised to do it weeks ago and still haven't gotten around to it. For the most part she was able to hold herself together, but she was slipping more and more. It sucked watching this, knowing that it meant more was to come.
By 2008 it had gotten to the point where we felt she would be better in assisted living, she was okay during the day, but at night she had serious issues. She lasted one day in assisted living before the residence decided she needed to be in a memory care unit. One day, in other words she was worse than we had realized. That sucked big time.
We would go visit and she would complain that no one visited her in weeks. On our way out we'd look in the guest book and see that my father and sister had been there one hour before we visited. She wasn't lying, she really believed that she hadn't seen any of us. Knowing that even with our visits she still felt alone and abandoned sucked beyond words.
Soon she started forgetting who we were. When she would be fed lunch she would do things like save half her sandwich to take home to her "little boy" who she no longer realized was nearly 70 years old and was sitting right in front of her. I took my boys to visit, but she has no memory of me, no understanding that these are her great-grandchildren. She interacts with the baby, but he could easily be any random baby. Bit by bit we were all erased from her memory, until we became nothing more than strangers who visit her. Erased like a hard drive being wiped. She no longer complained that we weren't visiting her, but it sucked knowing that in her mind we no longer existed.
It's been over ten years that we have watched her die without her body realizing it. She is 97 and has a son, two granddaughters, and five great-grandchildren, and she wouldn't know any of us from a stranger she might have passed in a grocery store 50 years ago. And it sucks.
My children just lost their father from dementia at his age of 84. For the last five years he didn't recognize them. My eldest son tried two years ago to visit on his own from NY to NH. He walked into his condo and his father raised his arm to strike him. His own son was seen as an intruder.
Tom, I am so sorry for your loss as I am sorry for my children's loss.
My cousin and I have an agreement as crazy ladies do... She will put a pillow over my face and sit on my chest. This puts a smile on my face and love in my heart.
May we all go peacefully and with love in our hearts.
We do the best we can and that is all there is to it. My condolences.
At almost 88, Mom has been slipping for years. The past 3+ have been with a 24 hr live in. Frustation and sadness become constants. I get to see her each day,but some days don't want to,then guilt sets in. The conversational loops are trying sometimes. Moms memory span may be all of 10 mins.She does know who we all are but I wouldn't be surprised if that left one day as well. They say we should enter their world rather than expect them to enter ours. Each time she asks what day it is,for her shes asking for the first time though it may be the 6th time in 20 mins.Definetely a skill to be developed.Most important lesson, end every visit or phone call with " I love you". Someday they may be the last words either of you hear.
I am so sorry for your loss. Dementia is heartbreaking. Glad you have such good memories.
Tom, I'm glad I got to sit shiva with you - I think it's a wonderful tradition to share memories and support with our friends and families at a most difficult time. I agree with the sentiments above about our parents' passing making us acutely aware of our own mortality. We have some control by taking care of our health, but that certainly doesn't necessarily determine the outcome. My parents were very health conscious for most of their lives - one got dementia, the other ALS. My brother is a geriatric physician with a somewhat wry sense of humor. He says, basically, you're going to get something if you live to a certain age. 1 out of 2 people over 85 develop dementia. Giving thought as to how we want to handle the end of life and sharing those thoughts with our nearest and dearest is brave and necessary, imho.
Please accept our condolences as well, Tom. I'm so sorry for your loss - it isn't easy to lose a parent even when you see it coming.
I and can relate to a certain extent since my mom has Alzheimer's. She's very healthy otherwise, and living fairly happily moment to moment, but she hasn't known who I am for years now. It is like we said goodbye to the person who raised me 5 or so years ago, since she started having symptoms about 8 years ago. That was the worst, as I recall. She was terrified of what she knew was happening to her, and it could make her lash out as well as make her pretty depressed. Thankfully, that fear is no longer a part of her day to day.
spontaneous and oneofthegirls and georgieboy, thank you for sharing your stories. They're very sad, and my imagination tells me that they're very painful.
Today is my first day back at work since Mom died. I give my permission to break out crying at any time, in front of anyone.
Today is also Mom's birthday. She died five days ago. Today she would have turned 90 years old. It hurts that we can't celebrate with her, even though I was very uncomfortable at her birthday last year. Her aides went all out and decorated her room and dressed her up and put on makeup and had special food. My mother might have known what was going on. I wasn't sure. And that unsureness pissed me off majorly.
I had to think a bit this morning to decide how to get to work. Sometimes I take the subway, and sometimes I ride my bike. It feels like a big decision, partly because both trips are long. They each take about 65 minutes. I decided to ride my bike because the exercise could help release anger and sadness, and I think they did. I had a really nice ride.
As I rode to work, I thought about Mom's entire 90-year life and realized she was an amazing person. I was slightly aware of it in her final years, but my discomfort with her condition clouded my vision of it. One of my daughters said she'd like to have her grandmother's ribbons she won in swimming races. I took a look at the display of ribbons in Mom's office, and MY GOD there are a lot. She hardly ever told me about her racing. Or maybe she did but it didn't sink in about how serious and devoted she was. I knew she swam every day but I didn't know she was so competitive, and I think she continued that well into old age.
People she knew are coming to me and telling me stories I didn't know, and I love it.
togetherness, I don't know who you are. I'd love to know.
Spontaneous, I am so sorry. To watch that play out over more than a decade is so painful I can hardly contemplate it. My mother lived about 1.5 years in assisted living and then memory care. Her slide was quite rapid once we recognized the severity of her condition. She might have lived longer in a terrible state if she had not developed pancreatic cancer, and I find it awful that I am somewhat grateful to cancer, of all things, for sparing her years of pain and confusion and loneliness. It is terrible to me that people with dementia become so horribly lonely because they perceive themselves as alone no matter how often people visit. So, so sad it breaks my heart.
Tom.............A brief visit with our daughter found her as a woman in her 40's with graying hair. How can this be? I rarely relate to age and yet middle age is now going the other way
Do take care of yourself, especially your teeth. You have so much to offer and we all have so very little time. Your mom is at peace and somewhere is watching after you. I am a polyglot Christian with decidedly vague ideas about religion but I do believe it provides us with a guide and makes us better people. Your mother raised a fine son and you in turn took good care of her.
I'm so sorry to hear this. My condolences.
My grandmother was diagnosed and lived for 23 years with Alzheimer's until she passed away last year at 95. Her body lasted much longer than her mind. It's a cruel, cruel disease. I understand the conflicted feelings; there is a sense of relief that your loved one is no longer living that way, and in ways it's hard to mourn because you had to say goodbye to the person you knew years earlier.
Thank you, everyone.
@author, often when people speak of the my beloved family, now dead, watching over me, it is a heartwarming image, and it helps me move from one emotion to the next. But my mother was more staunchly atheist than anyone else, and for some reason, I can't conjure the image of her eternal soul watching over me. I suspect I will, in time, but not yet.
My father, who died in 2009, "came to me" in a dream and told me not to worry. My mother being different from him, may not come to me in the same way. But I could be wrong, and that would be OK.
Tom, I think you'll find your mother the way mine comes to me: something of hers falls into your line of sight, or one of her favourite sayings comes to mind, or perhaps you'll see something you just know she would have appreciated... For a minute there'll be a conversation in your head, and your heart will warm, and you'll feel she's visited.
D and I completed the Gold Coast Memory Walk held yesterday, for The Queensland branch of Alzheimer's Australia. It was a day of dangerous storms, so quite fitting in some ways. It was also the first time this event has been held here. We walked for his Dad, who has just moved into fully supported care. We walked for your mother. We walked for another friend's dad, who died a year ago and had his consecration yesterday. We walked for D's aunt, with early-onset, many years ago. We walked for a colleague's FIL, living in care. The list continues... The storms held off just long enough
Tom: Hope you are enjoying your Father's Day and finding comfort after losing your mom so recently.
One of my former students posted this on Facebook. She is a staunch atheist as well. (Are there any other kinds?) Perhaps this is how your mom would look at her own passing.
"<3 My dad was a good man, but he's not in Heaven because there is no such place. It's a human construct to try and ease the reality of our own mortality. <3 My dad was a flawed man, but he's not in Hell because there is no such place. It is a human construct to try and make sense of persistent injustices in the world in the hopes that some day, in some way, all scores will be appropriately settled. <3 My dad is not watching over me because the unique sequence of DNA that made his brain work to create his personal consciousness stopped working when he died. I wouldn't want him watching over me anyway because I would not have any control over when he is or what he is seeing. <3 My dad lives on in me, in my memories and in my love for him. He lives on in my brother and sister: in their DNA, their memories and love for him. <3 He lives on in his sister and cousins. He lives on in his nephews and nieces and all of the memories and love they hold for him. <3 He lives on in his grandchildren and great grandchildren, in their DNA and memories and love too. <3 He lives on in his friends who also carry memories and affection for him. <3 He most definitely lives on inside my mother who he loved, took care of and protected not only while he was here, but also made sure she would be cared for after he was gone. <3 <3 Until one day when someone who knew him or knew of him tells a story or speaks his name for the last time, he is alive. Only then will he be truly gone. I will share his lessons, the stories and speak of him and love him and miss him until the day I die. <3 Happy Father's Day to all of the good dads out there. Extra love and hugs to those men who long(ed) to be fathers but are not."
Nearly a year has passed, and I am just learning about this.
Dementia is a nasty decease, and I hope that this past year has erased many of the bad moments and has left you with just the loving thoughts that your mother would have wanted you to remember. Hugs from Chile.
Thank you, @Copihue.
We are still cleaning out my mother's home. It's such a big task, and it's hard to stick with it because of the emotions. Every time I am there, I feel I am saying goodbye to my childhood home for the last time.
In the room that was my bedroom, my mother had a map of the world wallpapered to one of the walls, covering the largest wall entirely. She had it done when we moved into the apartment when I was six years old. Some years ago, it was faded and discolored, and she asked my permission to paint over it. I don't think she needed my permission, but since she asked, I said no. So it's still there for just a little longer until the future residents move in. The map was an important part of my life, because I became very familiar with world geography at a very young age.
I have many boxes of photos to go through. They're taking up too much space, and it's a daunting task. My own home is unmanageably cluttered, and I'm finding it hard to find the time to deal with it.
I'm thinking about what I wrote about spirituality and how I doubted my mother might come to me in dreams or visions. I'm trying to be open minded, but nothing has changed. Yesterday, I listened carefully for her voice.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of her death.
Tom_Reingold said:We are still cleaning out my mother's home. It's such a big task, and it's hard to stick with it because of the emotions. Every time I am there, I feel I am saying goodbye to my childhood home for the last time.In the room that was my bedroom, my mother had a map of the world wallpapered to one of the walls, covering the largest wall entirely. She had it done when we moved into the apartment when I was six years old. Some years ago, it was faded and discolored, and she asked my permission to paint over it. I don't think she needed my permission, but since she asked, I said no. So it's still there for just a little longer until the future residents move in. The map was an important part of my life, because I became very familiar with world geography at a very young age.I have many boxes of photos to go through. They're taking up too much space, and it's a daunting task. My own home is unmanageably cluttered, and I'm finding it hard to find the time to deal with it.I'm thinking about what I wrote about sfpirituality and how I doubted my mother might come to me in dreams or visions. I'm trying to be open minded, but nothing has changed. Yesterday, I listened carefully for her voice.Tomorrow is the anniversary of her death.
Tom........they never really die when they remain in our hearts "For love is stronger than death"
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