HOW MY HEART ACHES
I miss my mom. I really don’t want to blog about my mom because it forces me to think about reality and the grim unknown. I know this sounds selfish, but I want to be in a bubble where only happiness, love, and other good things exist. I feel bad for even thinking about and posting it on my blog. But what I’m feeling and thinking is the truth. I think, pray, and worry about my parents — especially my dad — every day. Frontotemporal dementia has been robbing my mom’s mind and memories more frequently to the point she’s in adult daycare while my dad works.
I head to Rochester whenever I can to help out Dad, who needs a break every now and then. I admire him for his patience and understanding, but I also know he’s frustrated and probably a little angry at the disease. My heart aches each time Dad tells us what the disease has taken. How sometimes she doesn’t believe they live in Rochester. How she becomes upset when she thinks Dad didn’t tell her that Becky was pregnant with Shelby. How sometimes she thinks Shelby is Krissy’s daughter. Or when I visit them without Charlie, and she thinks I left him at home with our children.
My heart aches, and I miss my mom terribly. She was a quiet and shy person who made sure her family was happy. She remembered us. She remembered our birthdays. She baked and decorated cakes of our favorite characters at the time — Strawberry Shortcake, Winnie the Pooh, etc. She made sure she had enough candles for birthday cakes. A birthday card was always the first thing to open before tearing into the presents. The year I adopted my first cat, Calvin, Mom picked all future birthday cards with cute and adorable cats on the front just for me.
When my sisters and I moved out of the house, a birthday card would reach us either before or on the special day. She usually tucked some money in the card and wrote “spend it on something fun.” She remembered us. And eventually she remembered the grandchildren. She called each of us to check up on our lives. She wasn’t our best friend, and I will always be grateful for that. She was our mom. She punished us when we misbehaved. She made sure our homework was complete before we could watch TV or go out to play. She taught us right from wrong. She set an example. She was a mom. And we could always count on her.
When my sisters and I were younger and didn’t need brand name clothes (or yet discovered them), Mom sewed new school clothes for us. I remember roaming around a fabric store looking for a cool print. She had a sewing machine set up in a corner of Dad’s study. She needed each of us girls for measuring and pinning. We were excited to wear the new clothes that she had made and couldn’t wait for the first day of school. Now, I’m grateful for those first day of school photos. Just thinking about the photos make me smile fondly.
In late ’80s and permed hair was the cool thing to have, I begged and pleaded with Mom for a permanent. I should’ve listened to her. But do any teenagers really listen to their mothers? Permed hair was going to make me look cool. I didn’t want straight black hair anymore. I really should’ve listened to Mom. She knew better. My hair is so coarse and thick that a perm never really looked good on me. To make matters worse and for reasons unknown, I used hot rollers on my permed hair! What was I thinking? And where was Mom at the time? With the perm, my hair looked terrible — did I really believe hot rollers were going to make everything better? Recently, my sisters gleefully discovered an old photo of me and my beautifully disasterous permed hair. Everyone who looked at the picture had a really good laugh.
My heart aches. And sometimes I have trouble processing what else the disease is stealing from her. Eventually, the day will come when she won’t remember us. I can’t even handle the thought now. I’m not ready for the day when I walk into a room and she asks me, “Who are you?” I will say, “I’m Jenny — your daughter.” I’m not mad or upset with her — I’m mad and upset with the disease because we can’t prepare ourselves for anything. We know the disease will take more from her, but we don’t know when and what. The unknown kind of sucks.
I just miss my mom. I remember her.
Categories: Jennifer Elliott