This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and I sent you a card. Hopefully, you will understand the words and remember who I am from my signature.
I wish I could be there with you, but since I can’t — please know I love you and celebrate this day with you.
I needed to write this letter as a tribute, because I am grieving at the slow disintegration of the woman you used to be.
Your Alzheimer’s journey has taught me to value each day, love fully those who are in my life and never forget to make that love known.
It wasn’t until I became a mother that I understood how much of yourself you poured into us. More than just the meals, the activities and making chicken soup when we were sick.
I’m talking about the soul-giving that mothers extend to their children.
Everyone knows about the labor you endured during my birth, but you also labored with soul contractions throughout my growing up years.
You defended me when other kids or even adults said unkind things. You taught me how to make the perfect zwieback with just the right dimple on top where melted butter could pool inside. You showed me how to sew a perfect hem so no one except the two of us could see the stitches.
When you were bone tired from working at the hospital, you came home to make supper and still made it to my activities on time. Not once did you complain.
Thank you, Mom, for the late nights when I know you were on your knees for me. You poured out your soul to Almighty God and asked him to keep me safe. But at the same time, you were willing to let me go and let God do his work in my life.
You came to the hospital when I lost my baby — your first grandchild. Even now, I remember coming out of that anesthesia-induced haze. It was your hand that gripped mine, your tears mingling salty with mine.
These days, I grip your hand and try not to cry when you repeat the same questions over and over.
Experts have written about the unique bond between mothers and daughters. We depend on each other, fill a particular emotional need no one else can touch.
You taught me to love books, drove me to the library every week so I could check them out and devour them when I finished my chores. Then you provided the perfect example as you sat under the floor lamp and read your own stack of novels, mysteries and biographies.
Although you no longer comprehend the words, you still love to read — pouring over the same book hour after hour. Another of the sad effects of this demon Alzheimer’s.
You wanted to be a writer. I’m sorry that dream did not happen for you. Instead, you nourished it in me. You always insisted I use proper grammar and that I spend extra time revising school essays.
By assigning me chores, you taught self-discipline and a strong work ethic. I use that same self-discipline to complete books and continue posting each week on this blog.
You taught me how to save money by ignoring the impulses of peer pressure. You showed me how my value lies in who I am rather than in what I own.
Ahead of your time, you taught me women should think ahead and pursue a career, manage their own money and be prepared for whatever life hands us. You said it was okay to vote differently from my friends and even worship in a style different from the norm.
You taught me to think independently, to shush the fear and step into the world with self-confidence and courage.
Oh, you weren’t perfect, Mom. None of us are. But even then, you taught me perfection is not the goal and failure is not the end.
Rather, the goal is in the attempt and in the perseverance to try again. Then if we fail, we give ourselves grace, grieve a bit and go forward once again.
So, Mom — on this weekend of remembrance when people buy flowers and send cards, I want you to know you did a good job.
You brought me into the world and gave me the freedom to discover my purpose. You encouraged me to use my gifts and showed me it was okay to be radically independent.
You labored and prayed, then feasted on my accomplishments.
Even though life has handed you this lousy disease, you’re still trying every day to put one foot before the other and learn contentment within your small room.
Above all, Mom, I thank you for being so brave and I love you for showing me how.
©2020 RJ Thesman – All Rights Reserved
The above excerpt is taken from Sometimes They Forget – Finding Hope in the Alzheimer’s Journey. Available on Amazon in print and Kindle.