A Significant Anniversary

July last year our mother fell in the shower and broke her hip. Since then I haven’t “been myself” – whatever that loaded phrase means. Needless to say, Mother’s Day was fraught.


Like every female I know, I’ve had a complicated relationship with my mother with lots of temperament and dramatizing on both sides. She was very judgmental and opinionated, talented and funny and wise. In recent years our best times were when she made a pot of tea and we talked about the meaning of life and all the wonders and terrors that the future might hold.


Now, more often than not, she’s isn’t sure who I am. In the last fifteen or twenty years since everyone started hugging (even seven foot basketball players and superheroes giving and accepting awards on television), she avoided getting physical with people she barely knew. Now when I move in for a hug, I see her cringe a little.


At the nursing facility where she lives they tell me dementia is a process, like everything else. A year ago she was working in her garden with her dog for company, nine months ago she was recovering from hip replacement in a rehab facility. She read the paper and had strong opinions about San Diego’s groping mayor. We walked (she sat, I pushed) on Bankers’ Hill and she knew the names of all the trees and had an opinion about everything. A couple of times she yelled at aides in a way that would have shamed her had she realized what she was doing. Thanksgiving and Christmas passed without her noticing. Her 97th birthday was a blur spent in my garden with her great grandchildren who were frustrated and confused when she didn’t understand even the simplest explanation of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.


Mother's Day 2014

Yesterday, Mother’s Day, this time at my sister’s, the monarchs were everywhere but the kids pretty much left her alone. She ate the feast prepared in her honor but she didn’t have a clue what it was all about. She’s forgotten she’s our mother.


I don’t think I’ve ever been as pervasively sad as I’ve been this past year. I’m not saying it’s worse for me than anyone else. Just that it’s terribly sad when someone you love has gone away forever but her ghost lives five miles down the road.


In all of this, the good news is that she’s happy and her caregivers are kind and responsible men and women. When we brought her back late yesterday afternoon, she squealed joyously and held out her arms to greet Ashley, the nurse on duty. Mom knows who she is.


Filed under Family & Friends, Life Matters | Tags: ,

6 Responses to “A Significant Anniversary”

  1. Janet Dedman says:

    Dru, This describes exactly my relationship with A.Kath! It is the most heart-breaking time of my life to watch this once intelligent and creative woman disappear into a place I can’t reach. II often say to my children that I’m watching A.Kath die, cell by cell. It is a wicked cruelty.

  2. Jessica North says:

    Dru, my mother died four years ago. There are many times sill that I want to call her with news or something I’ve read or enjoyed to share with her. I live in a world without my mother. It is a little empty without her, and so am I. We too, as you know had a strained, complicated relationship. As she got older she was not mean to me. So, it was easy to take exquisite care of her which helped me heal some of my wounds that she had inflicted. Poor soul. She was curious, intelligent, wise, worldly, well read, well travelled, charming. Just not kind. Which is the value I hold most dear.

  3. julia margaret says:

    Oh dru…reading this has brought me undone. I feel sick with sadness right now. How lucky we were that it didn’t come to this with mum, although we were within a whisker. I really feel for you meg and kip. Mxxx

  4. Christine Ashworth says:

    Dru. Oh honey. I know what you mean. My mom had a very slight form of dementia the last few years of her life, and she had hearing issues too. It was hard being around her, even though she was always a cheerful soul even when she wasn’t quite sure what was happening. Sending love and hugs…

    –Chet Cunningham’s daughter

  5. David S. Cohen says:

    Dru, I just reposted this on my Facebook page: it is also the story of my final four months backeast in Elmira N.Y. helping my mother to take care of my father who had forgotten my name and, though he knew somehow I belonged, did not get how…Thak you for this beautiful, sad reflection…

  6. Art says:

    Dru, the odds say that I, your soulmate, am headed in the direction of your Mum, so I just want to reassure you that, as my mind dies cell-by-cell and eventually has to leave you, you’ll never leave my heart. Deep inside there will always be a part of me who knows you, because you’ll forever be part me. Always, Art