Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Disappearing Act

("How My Mother Disappeared")

There is a desperation in being witness to the deterioration, inch by inch and brain cell by brain cell. I can remember my mom complaining for years that her memory was failing, even before I could see any evidence that her diagnosis had any validity. Then the signs began to appear,and the trickle of incidents became something more than that, until finally it was an overwhelming tidal wave of events.

When she was still driving, at the very beginning, she had a car accident. She couldn't remember where she lived, so she needed a police escort to lead her home to her residence of 30 years. And there was the day she called me to ask how to get to the stock broker's office she had visited week after week with clock like regularity, delivering deposits by hand, not believing the mail a sufficiently reliable option.

Now, more than a half decade later, she sits in a wheelchair, almost blind, unable to hear most conversation or to process virtually anything she does hear. She has gone through many levels of reaction to her decline, anxiety, frustration, anger, despair. Now she is much more placid, even as her entire world has become little more than the 4 walls of her apartment. I too have taken a journey from annoyance at her repeating questions ad infinitum to bewilderment at our collective inability to slow down the enemy, to a calmer acceptance of what is and a gratefulness for whatever is left.

Earlier this week, as I stood next to my mom, stroking her hand with mine, so she could know I was there and so she could have a physical sensation of how I felt, she told me that I was the best. Even in the midst of an ongoing and unspeakable tragedy, there are still moments when I can smile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

U r the best! This is so difficult for us to witness such decline in those we love. Would that there could be an easier path with dignity.