Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

My sister Olivia and I took Mom to Seattle on the 14th to celebrate Mother's Day with our grandma. 

I don't know if I can describe what it was like to visit my 91 year old Grandmother with my 58 year old mother who has been living with Alzheimer's for 4 years. It was rough. A lot of stories got repeated. There were moments of disorientation (for all parties involved). It was like being with two caricatures of women I used to know.

It was also beautiful. Even with memory lapses and confusion about where we were and why, Mom and Grandma were happy to see each other. We laughed a lot. Aging has awakened a child-like appreciation of the world in both of them. There's nothing like Alzheimer's to force you to live "in the moment." And there were a lot of special moments on Saturday.

Mom always used to initiate our get-togethers. She and Grandma talked on the phone weekly for as long as I can remember. Since life has changed so dramatically in the last four years, they've only seen each other a handful of times.

Grandma was in denial for a long time about her daughter having Alzheimer's. She told us a few Christmases ago, "We just have to pray! She hasn't been healed because we don't have enough faith!" Less than helpful. It was easier to avoid big family gatherings.

But the years have softened some edges and Grandma made no such comments during this visit.

Seeing Mom in the role of daughter was the most like herself I've seen her in a long time: listening attentively to stories, sympathy for her mom's aches and pains, laughing in her good natured way.

Mom's calligraphy. A gift to Grandma many years ago.
There was a familiarity between Mom and Grandma that didn't require any introductions or recall of facts. They were comfortable together.

Mom gave Grandma a hug and, face to face, told her "I love you so much."

Grandma said, "I love you so much, too."

I was SO glad to be with Olivia. We handled the day beautifully together, and then both had emotional melt-downs the next day. It takes a toll.

But we were both happy to make it happen. It was the best gift we could have given. 

Words just don't do justice to the amount of love and respect and admiration I have for these three women.


  1. What a beautiful Mother's Day story! My mother-in-law developed Alzheimer's and we lived with that for a few years. So, I understand the joys and frustrations you express here.

  2. There is nothing like grandmother/mother/daughter/granddaughter relationships.
    My grandmother will turn 95 next January. I'm turning 46 today. My mother is in her seventies. My daughters are 14 and 18.
    We need more pictures of our four generations.
    It's nice to see pictures of the women of your family.

  3. As always, thanks for putting to words what I'm feeling. Love you Sis.

  4. I bet it was beautiful, though scary and bewildering.

    My husband's mother suffers from Alzheimer's too. It can be very scary for us at times and yes a lot of things get repeated. I find that to be true of many of us ... seems as I get older I repeat more too.

    As hard as it can be at times, I tell my husband to just enjoy the season ... the moment. Some of these moments are moments we will treasure once they are gone, but I believe we will all be most thankful when we look back and see how we did our best to treat our love ones with God's special love and tenderness.

  5. What an awesome story. I admire you for dealing with all the ick that this situation entails. You are a strong woman. Love you.

  6. I followed you here through Elizabeth Esther's. I really appreciate this post. My grandma has Alzheimer's, so I can empathize with much of what you're saying. Blessings to you for making such beautiful moments for and with those you love.

  7. Hi Emily! I came here through your comment on my blog. This post made tugged at my heart strings. I don't have any close family stories, it was just well written, raw and real. Thank you!