A Day Holding on to Mom

There was a time, long ago, when I didn’t want to spend time with my mom; I was a foolish teenager then! Yesterday, I got to spend an entire day with her while my dad was at a retreat for the caregivers of dementia partners.

Oh, if only we all had a looking glass that would tell us what our futures hold for us! As little children we cannot get enough of our “mommy,” and as teenagers, sometimes we think we know better or more than our mothers. As adults, we begin slowly to understand that these women who bore us, loved us in their own way, and did their best for us as they knew how, are just as human as we are.

I never fully understood a mother’s love until I had children of my own – I don’t think anyone can. I learned at a young age, 16, of issues my mom had. I was confronted in my mid-twenties with the fallout of those issues, and for the first time in my life I saw the vulnerability of the woman I called “Mom.” And my understanding grew. It grew because a bond was finally forming, and because I educated myself on the psychology of women, on the cycles of our lives.

Do I feel shame for how I felt before my enlightenment? No. I shouldn’t. But, I do wish sometimes that I could go back with the knowledge I am now armed with and do it all over again. I watch now as dementia eats away at the strong woman who raised me, and I bleed for her. I bleed for my father, who won’t give up on his commitment to love, cherish, and look after his wife until death do they part. And I wonder, were I to be in the same shoes as my parents, would I be so dedicated to my life partner?

Hold your loved ones close. And, if you have a loved one with dementia, embrace them, as they did you once not long ago. Every little smile, every faint memory that you stir within them – that is life to be cherished. Have a wonderful day, my friends – give someone you love a hug today – I know, I’m going to.