My Plea

If your parent is alive today hug them. Look them in the eye and tell them they did a great job. I don’t care if you believe it or not. Look at them, study their smile, listen to their laugh, feel their touch. Watch the manner in which they walk and eat their food, even if it is bad tell them it is good. Give them the respect of listening to their same story for the One Hundredth time and laughing at it.

Our parents, like us one day, have finite time. Today I watch my mom and can only cling to memories of her smile, her laugh, her jokes, any mannerisms at all. She is gone, not physically, but gone is the person I related to my whole life. She looks through me as if I am a ghost. I try to close my eyes and think of her as she was, as she would want me to think of her but I can’t get past her current condition.

There my mother is 3 feet away, she looks like my mom, although more frail and tired. But the person that is there is a stranger to me. We have no interaction, no conversation, no teasing me about my past, no mannerisms that I recognize. Who is this person? Is this my mother, my mother who wanted me to eat every time I saw her; my mother who told me that it looked like I had lost weight every time I saw her; my mother who would bare my weight, stepping on her feet while trying to teach me the two step?

Who is this person in front of me that is not my mother? Gone is her laugh, gone are her devilish ways, gone is her swagger. But this is my mother, this is my mother. So my friends, study your parents face today. Lock them into your memory banks. Record their laughs. Have them write down their histories, so you will know that this is your mother.

3 Comments

  1. Beth
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Dwayne,
    Throughout the 15 years I have been with my husband, Terry, I have often been grateful for him: his sense of humor, his strength, his advice, and his unwavering love. However, in the last two years and, again, this morning, I have found another reason to be grateful for his presence in my life.

    A little over two years ago my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. She was a vibrant and sweet 62-year-old, a huge talker and an avid reader; she was the center of our family, creating and maintaining family traditions with an infectious joy.

    In the last year her health has declined rapidly. In the last several months my father, Terry and I consulted a physician in the hopes of getting her the Deep Brain Stimulation surgery that we hoped would give her some of her life back. Unfortunately, she was then diagnosed with Parkinson's Plus, and we learned that the additional symptoms that come with the "Plus" part of PD made it impossible for her to have the surgery. We were, of course, devastated.
    Throughout this whole process, Terry has been a constant source of comfort and invaluable information. He has helped my father and me find respected physicians, work through the legal labrinth of power of attorney documents and estate planning. He has solicited the help of others (like Sue) who live near my parents or understand this disease in a deeply personal way. His work with Aegis has given him knowledge, has prepared him and nurtured in him a compassion and an understanding of the joys and pain of watching a loved one we once knew so intimately, disappear before our eyes. He, and everyone I have met who works for Aegis, cares for the residents, the family members, and community in a way that reaches far beyond the walls of the building in which the residents live.
    I am so grateful Terry sent me the link to your blog this morning. Your post about your mother and your advice to cherish the time with her made me cry and made me smile at the poignant sweetness of this journey so many of us share.

    Thank you for sharing your journey with others. And while my mother does not live at Aegis, I wanted to let you know one more way the community you have created through Aegis touches so many, including spouses and employee families, in such a powerful way.
    Thank you.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted March 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    Dwayne-

    Thank you for sharing such a personal and touching story- certainly brought a tear to my eye. My father and mother have both passed away and I miss them dearly. As you so tenderly wrote, if one has the good fortune to still have their parents living among them, watch them, study them, hold them, learn from them, love them- every day, for every day is a gift. It is comforting working at Villa Capri as I have been blessed with many fathers and mothers, in our residents. I look forward to reading your book, Dwayne. Good luck with it, a true labor of love, and thank you again for sharing a special part of yourself with us.

    ~Janet

    Villa Capri Concierge

  3. Anonymous
    Posted March 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Just remember, she can hear you but she's just unable to respond. Those connections in her brain, to be able to tell her body how to respond, have been severed by this horrible disease. But she can still hear you.

    You know how sometimes when you are having a dream while you are a sleep and something you hear happening around you becomes part of your dream? (like sometimes when I am dreaming, and my radio alarm clock goes off, the music from the radio actually enters my dream, right before I wake up, or if my pets are making a noise, the noise they are making becomes part of my dream, usually something really strange, but none the less, I hear the actual noise while I am in a deep sleep right before I wake up and connect the noise to what I was dreaming).

    Well, this proves that we can hear things when we are sleeping, or in your Mothers case, while she is unable to respond. She hears you, and she knows what you are saying and she appreciates all that you are doing for her.

    She will go when God says it is time. Until then, there is still a reason why he has her here with us.

    live in peace, June

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