My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer's is a disease that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer’s gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.
I understand there are different stages but I don’t know what stage my mother-in-law is in. At 88-years-old, she can still get around although it’s obvious she is getting weaker. She’s had several falls at the Assisted Living Facility but is too stubborn to use the walker provided.
Despite the fact that Nate (her son and my husband) and I visit her regularly, I don’t believe she has any idea who we are. We are friendly faces that come to visit her. We laugh with her and listen intently as she tells some of the same stories over and over and over again. Her short term memory is shot but she can vividly describe things from her childhood.
Today as we sat in the dining area, I kept looking at my husband and, somehow, felt his pain. Across from him sat the mother who raised him. But in many ways she was a complete stranger. Yes, she was the mother he remembers working as a nurse, while maintaining the household. She could bake the “best” biscuits and was meticulous about a clean house. She was also a mother with a kind heart and spirit. She was also the mother who uprooted her children from an alcoholic, philandering husband and moved them to a different location for a better life. He owes her everything for her commitment to his upbringing.
Even though he puts up a good front, I know it can’t be easy to watch his mother in this state of mind. But she is still his mother and it’s obvious how much he loves her and has vowed to take care of her--- even if her other children refuse to help out.
Every day becomes precious when you’re affected by someone with Alzheimer’s. Even though this is a Mother’s Day my mother-in-law won’t remember, it’s a day her son will never forget.