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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Saturday, February 23, 2008


I wasn't planning to visit. The weekend was very busy with every day already including four or five hours of driving. It would have been my only day at home. But in my bedroom is a picture of Mother from her college days. Her bright, beautiful face smiles down on me from atop my dresser. Here she is in 1954.

She called to me from that picture. Not in a way I could audibly hear, of course, but in a very real way nonetheless. She called for me to visit. And it kept coming in wave after wave.

So, I decided I would take the only day I would have been home and add four hours of driving to make the trip. But first I called my brother, Rob. He and his wife have moved to Vermont and are now a bit over three hours away from me. But he's still only about an hour away from Mother. So we planned to meet at The Birches.

We did. Mother was finishing up lunch when we arrived, and Rob helped her eat the pecan pie that was sitting untouched in front of her. She didn't really show any recognition of us or say anything. We decided it was an off day for her.

As she fussed with her glasses which slide down her nose, we wondered together how a doctor would be able to determine if she still had the right prescription for her glasses. Certainly she couldn't make any of the verbal responses needed for an eye test.

As she finished, the aide came to take her for toileting and Rob and I went back with her to her room. All I can say of the rest of the visit is that she was present. Rob and I had a great visit with each other as she napped.

So I went home wondering about the calling from the picture. Was it just my own guilt speaking because it had been a few weeks since my last visit? Did she reach out in some way when her mind was more alert and by the time I arrived she had retreated into the fog? Did she know more of our visit than she showed? Perhaps her own calling as a mother made her aware that Rob and I were more separated by distance and she wanted to bring her children back together.

I can't say, and probably it doesn't matter. I felt her calling and I went and the inscrutable purposes of the call were somehow fulfilled. Or maybe I just need a good therapist!