By Lisa Hirsch
IN MOM"S WORLD - DO I LAUGH OR CRY ?
This week in every conversation that I shared with my mom, who has Alzheimer's, I found many joyous and upbeat moments. That is until today.
The week started with my mom and myself being excited, that I would be coming to see her in twenty four days. I told my mom that the countdown began, and she asked me to write it down and send it to her, so she will remember. There is absolutely no point in doing that ,so I decided to start a counting exercise with her everyday. "Mom can you count backwards from twenty four to zero"? Mom declared with much enthusiasm, "of course I can do that" and she immediately started to count."Twenty four, twenty three, twenty two, twenty one," so quickly and correctly, until she reached zero.
I was amazed, how her memory, when it came to counting, and no less backwards, just like her spelling was so refreshingly sharp. I then asked her to count backwards skipping two at a time, and she immediately said twenty four, twenty two, twenty, eighteen until she reached zero. I really wonder how she is able to do this?
I laughed with her, as I told her that her memory works so well backwards, that maybe she should stand upside down . We then sang some songs, as we both giggled about silly little things we said to each other. Most importantly we shared one wonderful moment. Tomorrow will be twenty three days until I arrive. I can hardly wait.
The next day I reminded my mom, that my brother would be coming to see her. As I continued to joke with her and keep our conversations both simple and light, I told her that she was so lucky to have Gil as her son. Mom answered immediately saying, " yes I am one lucky lady and I love you and Gil so very much". My heart just melted as I said " we are also so lucky to have you as our mother". Mom answered with, "thank you so much, for saying that to me". I hung up the phone, with a big smile on my face and much love in my heart. Only twenty two days, until I get to see my mom.
The day after when I called, Elaine her caregiver was laughing as she answered the phone. She told me that my mom had just got done telling her all about her own mother. My mom shared how kind, generous and giving her mom was. All of this was true. As Elaine repeated the conversation to me my mom chirped in with " it's true, I would never make up stories".
Elaine handed the phone to mom. I kidded mom about how she was when I was a child. "Oh you lived near me"? With surprise in my voice, I answered with "mom I lived with you. Who do you think you're speaking to"? Mom then said, "I don't know".
When I hung up, I turned to my husband and laughed, as I repeated my conversation that I just had with my mom. I'm not sure how funny I actually thought it was, although I do get joy from the silly unexpected things that she is still able to say. I guess I'm lucky to still be able to laugh with her or find some joy in her childish ways.
The following days phone call was a little different. Mom did not know my name. "Mom I'm your daughter, you actually named me". I heard Trudy, Elaine's daughter say to my mom that my name started with the letter L. My mom then said with much question in her voice, "Louise?(nope)Lucy?(nope) Laura?(nope), until I said my name is Lisa. "Mom what is your son's name" I asked, and Ruthie was able to answer correctly. I then asked her name, and her middle name, and she responded with," Ruth Esther", which was absolutely correct. "Okay mom what is my middle name"? She had no idea.
I then asked what color hair I had. Mom answered " black", I quickly responded that was not my color. Then she said "red". Okay mom, I've had blond hair for at least the last thirty years. I asked to speak to Trudy and I said with laughter, "my mom sounded good, yet I guess this is not one of her better days".
As I hung up I felt sadness in my heart. I wondered if I lived closer would she never forget my name. In my heart I know the answer. Distance has really nothing much to do with what happened today. It's what Alzheimer's does to their victims. I was able to smile and continue on with my day, although, if I say it did not sadden me I would not be telling the truth.
I still keep a smile in my heart, and now have only nineteen more days until I see my mom. I will then be able to give her a big kiss and squeeze her tightly. I do wonder if I am the child or the mother. I guess maybe, a little of both.
I still choose to laugh and cherish all the love that my mom and I still can share. For I know that one day this may no longer be possible. So for today, I'd rather feel the thrill of laughter, than the tears of sadness.