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PUBLISHED: 4:53 PM on Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Even in Alzheimer's, a parent's love can carry us through
I've heard that an estimated five million adults in the United States live with Alzheimer's. My mom is one of them. Maybe your parent is, too.

I hate it.

I hate watching an energetic, beautiful, devoted mother slowly slip away into a world I can't reach.

With each weekly visit, I long to grasp a thread of consistency in a disease, which has neither rhyme nor reason.


I think back to the spring of my life - to Mom's guidance - before its indiscriminate grips lay hold of my family.

"Come on, Honey. I'm right here," she probably said, whilher outstretched arms encouaged my first steps.

I remember her coaxing me to finish my green peas when I'd rather have dessert.

"Just try them. They're good for you," she said. To this day, I'd rather have dessert.

Her countless trips to the children's section of the library instilled within me a love for the written word.

"Can you read this?" Her gentle, rhythmic voice prompted me to sound out each syllable.

At bedtime she tucked me in with a prayer, a kiss and left the hall light on.

"I'll be right here," Mom said. The boogeyman didn't stand a chance.

But now our roles have reversed.

"Let's take a walk, Mom." I reach out my hand.

At lunch, I coax her to eat her veggies. "Just try them, Mom. They're good for you." She'd rather have dessert; like daughter, like mom, I suppose.

My sister and I give her heart-felt greeting cards.

"Can you read them to us, Mom?" we ask. Her words are slow. Unsure. I hate it.

Sometimes, at the end of our visit, I'll tuck her into bed, give her a kiss, and pray with her. She repeatedly asks for Dad, her lover and groom of nearly 52 years.

"He passed away, Mom." My words sting and I fight back tears. "I'm right here," I say. I'd leave a hall light on for her if I could.

I head home, to a place where teen curfews are upheld and phone calls made to check in on my son and his family; where memories are born and moments with loved ones are never taken for granted.

And now, in the summer of my life, I realize there really is a thread of consistency I can hold onto after all: It is my mother's love. And I know it will carry me through to the season ahead.

Judy Halone (judy@judyhalone.com) is a member of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the National Society of Newspaper Columnist.


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