Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Like Mother, Like Daughter

From the first day I began this blog, this post has been on my mind and I have some strange kind of need to share it with you.

What if? What if I will have Dementia like mother some day, or what if I already do?

Most little girls want to grow up and be just like their mother. Especially someone like my mom. I can remember how very proud I would be when friends and family members would say, "you are so much like your mother."

This is the woman who I have idolized most of my life, watching her every move, listening to her every word, thinking that one day, if lucky, I could grow up to be a woman, wife and mother just like her.

When mother was first diagnosed with Dementia, I became very self conscious of every word I would say. I remember one day when I was speaking to my daughter, I called the word "lame", "lime." I laughed and remarked that I must be like mother. As time went on, I would fear that if I misspoke one time, or forgot one thing, I too, would have the "D" word. I catch myself quite often today, asking my husband if what I just said or did was normal.

To me, Dementia is one of the worst diseases anyone could have. Once you are diagnosed, it seems to be down hill from there. I know that in recent years, they have come out with some drugs which seem to slow the memory decline, but there is no cure.

Many times I would have a need to talk about the things that mother was doing. When someone would ask, "How's your mom?" I would began telling them things they didn't want to hear. I could since their uneasiness when I would tell them that mother saw this or she heard that. There have been times when I literally found myself trying to convince people that mother indeed has Dementia. It's like they don't want to hear it or believe it. One of my favorite responses is that, "Oh, all old people do that." If I said that mother has diabetes or heart problems, they would be all ears to hear of her last doctor's visit or lab work.

It's amazing to me, how little people know and understand about Dementia, even in the health care field. My husband and I have attended several conferences on Dementia. It wasn't until we heard of Teepa Snow, a Dementia expert who trains health care professionals in Dementia, that I began to understand that the things mother did were not just something she did, but what most Dementia patients do. It was as if someone had told her what we were going through, prior to the meeting. We felt the world had been lifted off our shoulders that night, as Teepa began to role play and tell stories of Dementia patients.

My mother, as most Dementia patients do, has an ability that drives me up the wall. It's remembering just enough and just long enough to pull one over on friends and acquaintances. Mother will meet someone while we're out somewhere or maybe they'll come to visit for awhile and she is able to sustain a conversation with them for as long as 20 minutes. Immediately after they leave, she looks at me and says "Who in the "Sam hill" was that?" I have asked myself many times, "Why does this bother me, shouldn't I be glad that mother can hide her Dementia at times?" I have decided it is in some way, a feeling of betrayal. Here I have shared with friends and family, mother's disease, so they come to visit, and to their amazement, she seems perfectly normal. This predicament and many other parallels were shown to us at Teepa Snow's Dementia Conference. If you have a loved one who suffers from Dementia and you hear of Mrs. Snow being in your area, or even if you have to drive 100 miles to one of her conferences, I encourage you to do so. It will be more than worth it.

For those of you who cherish your mom's recipes, but have never written them down or she has yet to share them with you, please don't put it off, make sure you know where they are or have her to write them down now while there's still time. Dementia comes like a thief in the night. As I have said before in earlier posts, my mother was one of the most wonderful cooks I've known. Truly, one bite of her Lemon Pound Cake was like nothing I'd ever eaten. This cake stood about six inches tall, the cake bread was white, not yellow like a lot of lemon cakes, so moist it would melt in your mouth and everybody's favorite. I can remember watching her make this cake many times but never knew the exact recipe. Just recently, I started trying to recreate this phenomenon, but to no avail, I cannot. There are some recipes I have of hers, but others which I would give anything to own, are lost forever. Mother doesn't have a clue as to what she baked not to mention what she put in it. I have found myself begging and pleading with her to remember but she can't. As a daughter and someone who enjoys cooking, this has been one of the things that I regret the most. I know that there will be many more regrets as time goes on.

I love my mother with all my heart. No one could have ever asked for a more loving, kind hearted, God fearing, mother than she has been. If for some reason this fate is handed to me one day, I will never once, regret being like her.

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