Alzheimer's Daughter

The Story

Alzheimer’s Daughter introduces the reader to my healthy parents, Ed and Ibby, years before their diagnosis, then recounts painful details as our roles reversed and I became my parents’ parent.

Their disease started as translucent, confused thoughts and ended in a locked memory care unit after a near decade of descent into the opaque world of Alzheimer's.

I began writing Alzheimer’s Daughter one week after my mother's death––when I was stunned, realizing Dad had no memory of her or their 66-year marriage.

I write to pay tribute to the undying spirit at Ed and Ibby's core, and with the hope that the story of their parallel decline might be helpful to others.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mom's Favorite Flower

Mom loved all of nature. Dad planted vegetables, and she helped, but her true love was flower gardening.

Each spring, she awaited the blooming of the Bleedingheart. It's an old-fashioned flower, perfectly shaped like a dark pink heart with a drop coming out the bottom. Now, I wish I could ask Mom why she loved them so. It seemed her connection to them was deeper than their beauty. Had her mother grown them? Had Mom's heart bled with the loss of her mother, as mine bleeds for her?

My mother's mother, was the most important influence in my life. She was a humble woman, widowed in her early 50s. She cleaned other people's houses as her source of meager income. Her cookie jar was always full of homemade sugar, molasses, or peanut butter cookies. (I have that cookie jar now, but it's empty most of the time, or filled with Oreos.) I remember having conversations, just the two of us, while eating special lunches she prepared of favorite foods like chicken salad and cucumbers, with mayonnaise cake waiting in the icebox for dessert. After lunch, we'd play our favorite card game, Flinch. She wore simple cotton house dresses with a corset, and clunky black lace-up shoes with stocky inch and a half heels. Grandma never complained. Near the end of her life, she spent about two years in a nursing home because of heart problems. When I visited, she always asked about me, never speaking about her own health issues. Brightness and excitement filled her when I brought my own little children, her great grandchildren, to visit. At her funeral I remember visitors saying, "We never heard your grandma say a bad word about anyone." That thought, about the core of her being, stayed with me. I'm fortunate to have strong, compassionate women who have impacted my life.

I guess the Bleedingheart, because of its name, makes us think of those we've loved and lost.

I love you, Mom. I love you Grandma. Thank you for being role models for me to emulate. I hope I can pass your loving spirit on to future generations.  

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