In Memory Of My Mom

I Miss You Mama

Mama 1988I know that all those whose lives have been touched, directly or indirectly, by Alzheimer’s have their own real stories to tell. This story is just one of many I have to tell about my Mom. She has been gone now for over 16 years but she will always be in my heart. This article is to give you a glimpse of just one phase of her life journey.

A number of years ago, my Mom developed Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As you might imagine, it was a very trying time for her and for us as a family. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, it steals one’s short term memory so that a person may seem just a bit forgetful. Simple tasks become increasingly more difficult. Remembering and recognizing numbers become a difficult problem and someone with Alzheimer’s loses the ability to even use the phone. Many find themselves getting lost because they can no longer find their way back home.  Once familiar places become unfamiliar and unknown.

A Lifelong Learner

Myrtle Plyler was a woman of high intelligence and great talent. She was a woman of faith who loved and gave of herself like no other. She lived alone after the passing of my Dad. She kept herself busy with her art and with the research and recording of genealogy. She told me once that sometimes her brain just did not work right. Within a couple of years, my Mom who was a lifelong learner found that she could no longer learn anything new. Instead, she was losing the ability to do things that once had been easy for her. That took a lot of joy out of her life.

It was devastatingly sad for us to witness this erosion of her many beautiful talents and traits. There was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Alzheimer’s was robbing her of the life she had known. A life that was much more than just this story. Some of these stories are inspiring, some happy, and some sad. Some would make you cry.

We tried hard to keep her in her own home as long as we could. We checked on her day and night. We made sure that she had every thing that she needed. By this time she had family living all around her but the time came when she could no longer live alone. I moved her into my house with me.

Can you imagine what it is like to be lost within your own self? The places that you know are no longer familiar to you. People that you know don’t know how to deal with the changes in you and some of them avoid you. Depression and loneliness become a big part of your life.  That is what Alzheimer’s does to you.

One thing that I will never forget, was the fact that no matter how her days went, there was one place where my Mom always loved to go. It was a place where her Alzheimer’s was checked in at the door – it was her happy place.

The Happy Place

We got Mama a wheelchair because she could not walk very far. She had been housebound for a long time. Now Suddenly, she wanted to go somewhere everyday. There were several places that I took her. we went to the library, to the museum or wherever she wanted to go.

Then there was Kmart. Of all the places that I could take her, Kmart was her favorite one. I don’t know why but it was her “happy place.” There must have been something about the atmosphere of the store. The moment I pushed her wheelchair through the door of Kmart, Mama would automatically start to sing. That’s right, really sing aloud.

She sang a song that she made up as we went through the store. She would look at the things on the shelves and that would be in her song. She sang about all the pretty things she saw. She sang, “♪ Oh look at all the little pretties, ♫ all up on the shelves, the dishes, the glasses, the cups, the lamps… all so neat and pretty. ♪”

A few people would stop and give her that questionable look, but there was no way that I would have tried to shush her up. She was so earnestly happy. She felt as free as a bird flying around. So, I let her sing her heart out and enjoy her moment. Every time we went to Kmart, my Mom’s eyes would light up and she would start singing again. You see, that was my Mom’s happy place. She wouldn’t do that anywhere else, only in her happy place – Kmart.

Sadly, things got worse as my Mom lost more of her memory, along with her other abilities… one by one. But, for as long as she was able for me to take her there, her spirits would be lifted up. Mama would sing her beautiful song… and I would  cherish the moment with bitter-sweet tears in my eyes.

Thank you Mom, for the lovely memory of your song, and Happy Mother’s Day.

 

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Comments

  1. Dear Glenda,
    Your story brought tears to my eyes. Alzheimer does rob you, and I am sorry you had to witness and feel this pain. I think you are an impressive woman as you did not let your mom go to a care home but moved her with you! I used to work for Bank of America as a Personal Banker, and I witness many sad stories, as people were coming to open or close accounts.
    My Mom and Dad live in Europe, but I would do anything if they need my help. That is why I am trying to get as much financially stable as possible as it would be possible for me to take care of them. Unfortunately, they both don’t want to relocate to the US. Their home and life are there, and they just won’t be happy here they say, no need to mention that they are afraid of going to the hassle of flying overseas.
    Wish you well and Happy Mothers Day!
    Regards,
    Lena

    • Hi Lena,
      Thank you for the well wishes and I wish you a happy Mother’s Day too. My Mom was a very special person and it was a privilege to be able to take care of her but the challenges eventually meant that I did have to move her to keep her safe. Even when she was in a care home though I continued to visit with her as much as possible. Sometimes I would go down and put her to bed at night because she would not let the staff do it. It tears your heart out to see a loved one lose their memories and place in life. They feel so lost that they are forever trying to go home but the home they seek does not exist. Thank you for reading. I hope that you are able to resolve the situation with your parents in the very best way possible. Take care.
      Glenda

  2. Dear Glenda,

    I want to apologize to you for not having left this comment much earlier. The truth is that when I first read your moving article, I was overcome by so much emotion that I just couldn’t write!

    Your article touched the deepest corners of my heart and brought back memories of my own mother. I was not as fortunate to have spent enough time with my mother before she passed, a sad fact that I have come to realize I could have prevented, if I had known better.

    Like many other people, I took my parents for granted and that they would always be there for me, when I had some spare time, to go and visit them. But, as you may have guessed, I finally woke up one day and wanted to appreciate them – it was too late then!

    Therefore, I am so glad that you had the good fortune, and the good sense, to be there with your precious mother to enjoy her, appreciate her, love her and give her the dignified care she deserved. Your mother must have been a beautiful and a special person with so many talents and love for life. I have a strong feeling that you closely resemble your Mother and are carrying on where she left off… to make a difference and impact others’ lives.

    I don’t believe that it would be at all possible to read this wonderful story and not have tears fill one’s eyes, like mine. You have masterfully, yet simply, delivered such a strong message by sharing with us your heart-to-heart feelings, emotions, pain and you Mother’s Happy Place… Thank you so much, Glenda, for bringing tears of guilt, acceptance, peace and happiness to my tired eyes.

    God bless you and your family, and may you Mom and Dad rest in everlasting peace.

    With sincere regards,
    Jay

    • Hello Jay,

      Thank you for reading and commenting on my article. I am sorry that it was somewhat painful for you to read. Many times though, some of our best memories also have an element of pain to them. We learn and grow through those painful moments. Both my parents left a legacy of love and service to others. I was very fortunate to have had them as parents. Although you felt that you were not there for your parents as much as you should have been, I happen to know that when it really counted, you put your own life on hold to take care of your Dad. I read about that in your article: Heartfelt Caregiving Is Such A Bitter-sweet Joy. We both learned from our experiences and became a better person for it.

      Again, thank you for your comments and also thank you for all that you are currently doing to help others today. May God richly bless you and yours.

      Glenda

  3. Hi Glenda,
    What a lovely story and what a lovely woman your mother was and is!
    The love of such a wonderful mother is truly a gift to cherish!
    And knowing that she is in Heaven and you will be reunited is a gift you can cherish as well!
    It is truly special to have read such a beautiful tribute to you mother on Mother’s Day!
    You have a happy and a Blessed Mother’s Day Glenda!
    God’s Blessings to you,
    Christa 🙂

    • Hi Christa,
      Thank you for reading and commenting on my post. My Mother was a wonderful mother and it is a privilege to be able to give her just a little of the honor and tribute that she deserved. You are right also that in knowing I will see her again is a cherished gift. I pray that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day yourself. Take care and God bless.
      Glenda

  4. Glenda, your mom must have been a wonderful person. You were a wonderful daughter, who loved her and spent precious time with her.
    God bless you,
    Martha

    • Hi Martha,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. My Mom was indeed a wonderful lady. This short piece does not do her justice. sometime I hope to write a longer story or maybe even a book about her many remarkable experiences. I could only do what I could do.

      May God bless you too,
      Glenda

  5. Oh how beautiful, Glenda! Thank you so much for sharing this. It brought tears to my eyes. Beautiful story. Your Mama was a great woman. She raised a wonderful daughter and I’m so blessed to have known You. Happy Mother’s day, Glenda and may your day(s) be the sunniest ever.

    Much love,
    Jenn

    P.S. I’d like to share this on FB – hope you’re okay with it. 🙂

    • Hi Jenn,
      Thanks for reading and for your gracious comments. You are welcome to share the post wherever you like. My Mom was an extraordinary woman and well educated. This piece only tells of a very short part of that life. She was an artist and an art teacher. She had students who won many awards. It was heartbreaking for her to lose the abilities that she had enjoyed so much in life. I was glad that she had her “happy place.”

      love, Glenda

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