Mondays With Mother: An Alzheimer's Story

In 2002 my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It is a hard road, and we live it one day at a time. This is a chronicle of her disease and my Monday visits with her.

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Name: Anne Robertson
Location: Plymouth, Massachusetts, United States
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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mother's Day

Since David and I both serve churches a good distance from Concord, NH, we couldn't get to The Birches for a Mother's Day lunch. So, like last year, we met at a lovely restaurant down the street at about 2:30 to celebrate both Mother's Day and several May birthdays, including hers. Aside from the fact that some roads were flooded and we had trouble getting there (we've had about 6 inches of rain and it's still coming), the meal was good and it was a pleasant enough afternoon. Mother didn't say much, and I can't say there is anything striking to report. It was a meal and we were together...maybe the last mother's day, maybe there are 20 more to go. Who knows?

Anyway, I thought I would post the article I did for our May church newsletter in honor of the occasion...

Mother’s Day is one of the more emotionally complex days on our calendar, probably because the relationship between mother and child is one of the most complex in our world. Some of us can’t be mothers. Some have children and wish they didn’t, while others take to motherhood like a duck to water. Some have lost their children through death or estrangement, even as others rejoice in a medical miracle or the healing of a relationship that has restored a child to them. From the side of the child, some are grieving the loss of a mother or feeling resentful of an abusive mother, while others relish a day to express love and gratitude for the woman who gave them birth and nurtured them. Some celebrate their mother as their best friend.

I spent Mother’s Day in 1959 giving my mother hours of labor pains as I was born into the world. Earlier that day my father took a picture of her rounded form on the stone wall in front of the blooming forsythia at our house. That picture was always a favorite memory that I would look at with her. “Yes,” she would say, “Just a few hours later I went to the hospital to have you.” Even into my adulthood we would go back to that house every so often and sit on the stone wall in front of the blooming forsythia and have our picture taken together.

She doesn’t remember that now. In fact, I’m not sure that, if I tested her, she could tell me that I am her daughter. She knows there’s something familiar about me, but soon even that will go and I will be yet another kind stranger who comes from time to time. Alzheimer’s is a cruel thief.

In the midst of those experiences and all our “mother issues,” the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 49 verse 15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” As it turns out, God is not only the faithful father, but also the unconditionally loving mother. Since losing my father in 1980, I have taken solace in having God as my father. Now, as my mother travels to dimensions of the mind where I cannot follow and where memory of this life becomes a puzzle to complex for her to solve, I take comfort in the mothering side of God, that will not…in fact cannot…forget me.

And so this Mother’s Day, whether you gather to celebrate your earthly mother or whether you choke back tears because of painful or bittersweet reminders, take a moment to thank your Mother in heaven…the one who will remember your name when all others forget.


Blogger Gail Rae said...

...and, The Mother who will remember your mother when your mother has forgotten herself.

12:50 AM  

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