She Remembered

She Remembered

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

She Remembered

My mother is the sweetest, most kind-hearted person you would ever want to meet. She was always very bright and articulate, and would do anything for anyone. We’ve always had a close and special relationship. She is also someone whose brain is being ravaged and whose identity is being stripped away slowly because of Alzheimer’s disease. She has been slipping away from us for 10 years now. For me, it is a constant death, a slow letting go and a continual grieving process. Although she had lost almost all ability to care for herself, she at least still knew her immediate family. I knew the day would come when that, too, would change and finally, about two-and-a-half years ago, that day came.

My parents would visit us almost daily and we would have a pleasant time, but suddenly there was a connection missing. My mother no longer knew me as her daughter. She would tell my father, “Oh, they are such nice people.” Telling her I was her daughter made no difference at all. I had now joined the ranks of a “nice neighbor.” When I would hug her good-bye, I would close my eyes and imagine that this was my mother from years ago. I would drink in every familiar sensation that I have known for 36 years—her warm comforting body, the squeeze of her arms and the soft, sweet smell that was hers alone.

This part of the disease was difficult for me to accept and deal with. I was going through a rough time in my life and particularly felt the need for my mother. I prayed for us both and about how much I needed her.

One late summer afternoon while I was preparing dinner, my prayers were answered and I was taken by surprise. My parents and husband were outside on the patio when my mother suddenly jumped up as if hit by a bolt of lightning. She ran into the kitchen, grabbed me gently from behind and turned me around. With a deep sense of knowledge in her eyes that seemed to transcend time and space, she tearfully and with great emotion asked me if it was true, was I her baby? Overwhelmed with emotion, I cried, yes, it was true. We hugged and cried and neither of us wanted to let go of this magical moment. I knew it could disappear as quickly as it came. She said she felt a closeness to me and that I was a nice person, but that it had come to her suddenly that I was her child. We felt relief and joy. I took this gift from God and savored it, even if it were to last just for that moment or hour or day. We were given a reprieve from that awful disease and we had a special connection again. There was a sparkle back in her eyes that had been gone for a long time.

Although my mother’s condition has continued to deteriorate, she remembers who I am and it has been a year since that sweet summer afternoon. She gives me a special look and smile that seems to say, “We are in on a secret that no one else knows about.” A few months ago when she was here and we had another visitor, she started stroking my hair and told them proudly, “Did you know that she was my baby?”

Lisa Boyd

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