In the last ten years I’ve become a mother-in-law and a grandmother. I’ve worked at Seattle Pacific University and earned an editing credential from the University of Chicago. I’ve traveled to Ireland, France, and Italy, and to northwest Arkansas many times. One summer I even went to Oklahoma– in July! I learned to make darn good pie crusts. I nurtured my freelance editing business, launched a website, and started blogging. But one thing that I’ve been unable to do since January 24, 2004 is to share any of this with my mother. Ten years ago today, my mom finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease.
Mom was diagnosed with AD in 1992 at the age of fifty-eight. For the next four years, my dad took excellent care of her as she increasingly lost her ability to make sense of her surroundings. In 1996, Mom took up residence in the first in a series of three extended care facilities. For the next eight years, Dad went to visit her every day, usually at meal time so that he could help her eat lunch. It was a very difficult time, particularly for Dad, but he persevered for all of us. I’ve said this before, but reiterating it doesn’t dilute the truth—my dad is a superhero.
This picture is Mom and me at White Sands, New Mexico circa 1958.
Last month I turned sixty years old. That’s two years older than Mom was when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Do I wonder if that vile disease is hiding in my brain, waiting to emerge and steal my memories? Sometimes. When I forget where I put my car keys or whether I’ve taken my daily vitamins, I wonder. Now I’ve come to terms with what happened to our family and to Mom. I still miss her, but the sad memories of those times have diminished and happy memories prevail. Now I especially enjoy thinking about how delighted she would have been with her great-grandchildren, Colin and her namesake Wendy.
What will the next ten years bring? More work, more travel, more grandchildren? Will I finally use those Rosetta Stone French CDs? The future remains unknown, but I will try to gracefully accept the changes that are bound to come and be thankful for those things that will not change—God’s mercy and the love of a wonderful family and one terrific husband.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” ~Philippians 1:3