I think this post will be one of the most difficult to write that I have, well, written. For, you see, I am not doing anything for my mother for Mother's Day. Yes, some of you may feel that's cold, even heartless. And I am not apologetic in writing this. I am simply expressing my thoughts.
My 90 year old mother is in the advanced stages of dementia. I do not go and see her often. Sometimes I think I should go to see her "for me". But truthfully, even if I do go to see her, she will either forget who I am, or remember me vaguely, and then within moments of my departure, forget that I had been there. If I send her flowers for Mother's Day, she will not know who they came from, or possibly even not know that it was a son of hers who sent them, and she would need to be reminded that they were for her. For sadly, my mother now doesn't always remember her 3rd and youngest son. So, for me, there is no reason to go see her for myself. I don't need to have her look at me with an expression that questions "who are you? I don't know you." And, since her attention span is now only minutes, to go see her for her sake doesn't make sense to me. If she doesn't know who I am, and I don't wish to be looked upon as a stranger, why should I go? Some of you might say "because she's your mother!", and in a sense, you are correct. But in reality, the woman I knew as my mother is gone.
I've talked to Colin and Audrey, who do have memories of her. Audrey was almost 2 when my dad died in 2004, and Colin was almost 3. They have vague memories of him. But they do remember my mom better, since they visited her often while she was still somewhat lucid. But now, she only remembers one grandchild, her oldest granddaughter, my niece. I asked Colin and Audrey the other day if they felt like going to see their grandmother - my mom - and they both felt that if she didn't remember them, that they would rather remember HER when she was able to call them by name and hug them. And I respect that decision.
|My mom, Christmas 1969|
And that made me realize why I don't feel the obligation to go see my mom. I know that for her, at her advanced stage of dementia, she probably won't know who I am, or how long I visited, or what I told her. And the thing is, I don't want to remember her this way. For you see, I want to remember my mom when she was still vital, still alive with the love of Bible Study, still attending church regularly, still making her dinners on Sunday nights. That's the mom I choose to remember. I don't mean to sound cruel, but I really don't wish to see a fading remnant of what she used to be. I don't wish to see a woman who is now in a wheelchair, who can't engage in a conversation, whose eyes are clouded and almost sightless. My mom was never a strong woman to begin with, but to see her mind breaking apart and her body slowly dying, is something I choose not to see. I can deal with the reality of this, but I just wish to remember her differently. My brother Jim still dutifully visits her and she sometimes doesn't even remember him. And my oldest brother Donald does make it down on occasion. I don't know how they feel, but I know for myself, I want to remember the mom of my childhood: the woman who made lunches, took me to and from school; who washed my clothes, and sang to me from an old hymnal each night. Some of you may argue that's she's alone. And in all ways, she is. Her mind is now alone, alone in its damaged state, so even the other women that surround her (she's in an assisted living home) are strangers to her. And even if her sons visit her, she still is alone.
I love you, mom. And I know that you know that, even though it's lost in that haze of your faltering mind. But I also know that you love God, and that someday, He'll call you home.