Things Lost, Things Gained
They say that grief can hit you without warning. That at the time you least expect it, it will hit you like a ton of bricks. They are right.
“Grief?” you might ask. “What are you grieving? Your mom hasn’t died.” No, she hasn’t died, not in the literal sense. I still get to see her every week. I can hold her hand and feel her soft skin. I still can hear her sweet voice. I can dance with her and giggle as she tries to sing songs. But there are so many things that I have already lost with her. Having a relationship with a mother who has Alzheimer’s is like a continuous death, a little death of something lost almost every time I see her. A memory, a name or a skill, all lost, little by little. These things you grieve as you see the person you once knew changing right before your eyes.
Lately my mom has been on a plateau. We have been rolling along. The visits have been about the same for over a month now. There are walks. There are broken conversations. Things have been somewhat status quo with her. I guess because of that, I have done less grieving lately for my mother. I have not felt the emotional roller coaster ride that I had been on before things evened out, if only for a while.
I was at home ironing some clothes and BOOM, it hit me out of nowhere. I was overcome with sadness. Somehow the synapses in my brain connected ironing to laundry to lost socks and that was all it took. My brain had created a metaphor that was too much for me at that moment. The lost socks were all of those things, memories, experiences, that I had lost with my mom. The experiences that she no longer recalls and the experiences we never got the chance to have. With an Alzheimer’s patient, once “something” is lost, it is gone forever. There is no relearning it like you or I might be able to do. It is simply gone, swirling around in a mess of black, tarry plaque in an Alzheimer-addled brain.
So, I stood there crying, steam swooshing out of the iron and clothes half ironed on the ironing board. I stood there grieving the lost things, the things that could have been and the memories that have been lost forever.
I know in my intellectual being that these sort of victimizing thoughts do no good. They cannot create new memories for her. They cannot make her know my name, drive a car, sing to my children. They cannot make her into the mom that I wish I still had. But right then, that is what my heart needed. It needed a release, and I hadn’t even known it. I had been moving along in my life, accepting the status quo situation with my mom and not dealing with it.
I really think I had been somewhat relieved that for a little while because things were the same. There were no dramatic changes that I had to adjust to. I was savoring the fact that maybe I could just cruise along and not feel. Sometimes that seems like the easier choice, at least at the time.
When I was done with my crying and grieving that day, I thought back to some of the other times I had been overwhelmed by my feelings. I can remember a few. Once, while labeling my mother’s clothes I had a breakdown. No one else was around, but I literally said, out loud, “Is this what my life has come to? Labeling my mom’s clothes like I would my own children’s, as if she is going to camp?” There I sat, laundry pen in hand, crying over an unlabeled pile of clothes.
Another breakdown happened while I was shopping in Target. There was no specific trigger that I can remember. I stood there trying to hold back the tears. I had to abandon my cart in the middle of the store and leave. Tears streamed down my face as I put my sunglasses on, seeing people stopping and staring. Thinking, “Let them make up their own stories about why I was crying, my story was bad enough.”
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Molly Godby lives with her family of four in Zionsville, Indiana. In 2007, her mother, Lee, was diagnosed with dementia with probable onset of Alzheimer's. Molly has been caring for her since. Molly is a stay-at-home mother of two. She enjoys writing, doing CrossFit and spending time with her family and friends. She also has a personal blog that you can read at www.abundantlyawesome.blogspot.com.
New Early Stage Program at the Indianapolis Museum of Art
We are proud to announce the launching of a new program in September 2013 that will allow individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s or another dementia to enjoy art exhibits and socialize with their care partners, families and friends.
The new program will be hosted at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Participants will view and discuss world-renowned art while socializing with their peers. Art appreciation and socialization helps individuals with Alzheimer’s and their care partners enhance their relationships with each other, develop new relationships with like individuals and elevate their overall moods. Art appreciation also helps nurture self-esteem. The museum tours will be lead by docents trained to work with individuals with dementia.
The program launches September 24 and will meet every fourth Tuesday of the month. The Alzheimer’s Association is passionate about building relationships with other partners in the arts community and engaging new families who are facing Early-Stage Alzheimer’s and dementia. Registration is required. For more information or to register, call 800.272.3900.
McDonald's® Fights to End Alzheimer's
The Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter is excited to announce our new partnership with McDonald's®. On the second Tuesday of July, August and September, the Association will receive 10% of the entire day’s sales at the 1020 Broad Ripple Avenue location. The proceeds will fund the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Visit the McDonald’s® in Broad Ripple on July 9, order anything off the menu and support the Alzheimer’s Association. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., a representative from the Association will be onsite to answer questions and hand out educational materials to anyone interested in learning more about Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
McDonald’s® mission is to support its surrounding community at every McDonald's® restaurant. Through involvement in youth sports, local charities and organizations and events that inspire the world, giving back is an essential part of the way McDonald's® restaurants operate every day.
For more information, call 800.272.3900.
Why do you walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer's?
If you’re participating in the 2013 Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, we want to hear your story! Why are you walking? Who are you walking for? Who are you walking with? Join one of our Walk events on Facebook and post your story there. https://www.facebook.com/AlzIndiana/events
Not only can you tell us on our Facebook page why you are walking, but you can also tell us at the Walk. If you raise $100 or more, you will receive a purple Walk t-shirt that can be customized in honor of the individual you are honoring that day. You may pick up your shirt at Bank Day or at the Walk.
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s® is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Join the cause by finding the Walk nearest you. Start or join a team today by clicking here. For more information, call 800-272-3900.
The Longest Day
On June 21, five teams in Indiana participated in The Longest Day® raising more than $4,800. The Longest Day® is a sunrise-to-sunset event to honor and raise funds for the more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers.
The Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated, including volunteers Jana Powell and Laura Storie for organizing the Fort Wayne event held at Sarah Jane's Yarn Shoppe. From 6:00 a.m. until 9:15 p.m., more than 80 knitters participated and raised more than $1,200 for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association.
Linda Yovan, one of the owners of the yarn shop, said the event is meaningful to her and her sisters because their mother, whom the store is named after, suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. “We have a long history of dementia in our family,” she said. “Anything that raises awareness and helps find a cure is a good thing.”
For more information about The Longest Day®, please email Amber Michel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800.272.3900.