Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Fading

My mother was mostly very happy to see me today, but still, there were moments when the tears welled up, overtook her.

"I'm so lonely" she says. And I have nothing to offer. "I miss your father so much. He wasn't just my husband, he was my best friend." All I can do is hold her hand, murmur that I miss him too, pass her a tissue from the ever present box, to dry her tears.

Physically, she is in good shape; remarkably good shape for all she has been through and the state of her noisy, glitchy heart.

But I am losing her, bit by bit.

Moment to moment she is still herself, her eyes clear, her hand gripping mine in gratitude for my visit. We talk, we laugh.

And yet the dementia is visible everywhere. Her short term memory, bad for years, is now gone. Completely gone. And the long term memories are slip-sliding into the vast ocean of forgetfulness too.

I tell her of Simon's impending visit and instead of excited she looks quizzical. "Who is he again, now?"

"Your grandson." I tell her. "Bruce's son."

"Oh. How nice!"

And not two minutes later.

"Who is coming to see me?"

"Your grandson Simon." I call up his picture on my phone thinking that will help trigger memories.


"Oh, yes," she says, "such a handsome boy!"

But then after a mere moment, "Whose son is he again?"

And thus it comes.

The fading.


  1. For some reason I thought you were an only child. You seem to be shouldering all this on your own. Lots of love, this is so difficult. xxx

    1. You're right - I'm sort of an only child. Bruce is my 1/2 brother, my father's son, not my mother's - so technically Mom is Simon's step-grandmother, but she has always considered him (& his sister Rachel) hers, no qualifiers.

      As my brother and sister were so much older than I and I never lived with them, I say I'm an only child, because I was raised as one. And I am my mother's only child. Clear? Sort of?

    2. Perfectly clear. Sorry if I sounded like I was nitpicking. Thanks for explaining.

    3. No, didn't think you were nitpicking at all, my family is genuinely confusing - even some of my good friends aren't exactly sure how I'm relayed to some folks.

  2. I say my son is "functionally" an only child. He has four older half-sibs, but we live so far from them that it's more like having aunts or cousins.
    Interestingly,I am also an only child with four half-sibs, but I'm the oldest so I actually was an only child until I was 12.
    My heart is aching for you and what you are going through. I lost my mom very quickly and by surprise and was spared much of this. But I was also "spared" any chance to say goodbye.
    Which is to say that you are held in my heart.

  3. The good news is that your mom is very clear on who YOU are. My husband's mom lost all of that towards the end, and it was so hard on him.


  4. Dementia has always made me sad, but now that I've experience it firsthand in my caregiving job, it makes me ANGRY. It's just not fair.

  5. I remember watching my grandmother fade; watching my dad watch her fade was torture. You are doing such a beautiful job keeping her dignity in tact as you chronicle this transition.

  6. I dreamed about this post last night. It was a very emotional night. I can only imagine how it is day in and day out.


I am so sorry to have to turn word verification back on, but the spam-bots have found me - yikes!