My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago. She’s 60 now. It started shortly after my father died – there was depression, not eating, mild confusion and personal hygiene changes. We all believed she was just mourning the loss of my father.
As her child, I saw more at first than the rest of my family: bounced checks, becoming lost, paranoia. Our worst fears were realized when we found out she had Alzheimer’s. Not only had I just lost my father, but bit by bit I was losing my mother and my boys their grandmother.
Three years ago, the neighbors found her wandering in her yard, claiming someone stole her pension check. I knew it was time to sell her house and ours, and to combine our families for whatever time she had left. She has declined greatly in the last few years. She’s now in a diaper and talks to me as if I'm a child again. I believe that when she looks at me, she only sees the person who makes her shower and take her pills; who I really am to her is gone.
My children are my champions; at only 12 and 13, they remind me every day why my mom is here and why I'm doing what I do. They know how bad it may get, but they have no fear – because she is Grandma. I don’t dare tell them that I don’t think she remembers their names. They know she loves them, and that’s enough. For now, that's all we need; names may not be important, but love is, and it’s there.