Free shipping on all orders over $75🎄

In my age old book of childhood truths, angels were typically those “good doers” who would fly around and hang out somewhere in heaven. They were these elusive, not entirely human creatures, and yet, in their own way, you could count on them to do their divine job.

In the world of care giving for family members with a terminal illness like Alzheimer’s, the concept of angels was not entirely clear. As a daughter who had past the forty mark, it is hard to witness another “stranger” take over the care of my mother even though that caregiver has the best interests at heart. Although my Mom was a world famous concert pianist and suffered from early onset of Alzheimer’s disease, I knew intuitively how difficult it would be to connect to her because she saw the world through classical music eyes.

At the beginning of the disease, mom would use her fingers to play “piano” on her bed. I would tell these other caregivers with excitement how my mom used to be a classical musical ambassador and a world acclaimed pianist. I even went as far as trusting them with my own rendition of how she would accompany me back in the days when I auditioned for the famous Music and Art High School in Harlem and I would laugh at our mother-daughter shenanigans. They would say, “Oh. Wow!” but with reserve. They would try to make attempts to communicate with her as I watched like a hawk just to be able to “catch” any authentic moment that may help me reroute to my mom. During those times, Mom was acutely alert of the presence of these “strangers” and she would look at me and say, “Dorit, what are these people doing in my house? I don’t need anybody here taking care of me!”

“I know, I know, Mom. They’re only here for a short while,” I had said. But I really didn’t know what to say.

These caregivers, in their own way, opened the door to miracles coming into my own life like gifts waiting to be opened. However, I was waiting for the right caregiver to step in and act as that bridge between my mom and myself.


One day, in 2000, after a slew of different caregivers, the agency sent us Yvette Mascary, a first generation American from a town near Haiti. From the first day, she looked at me straight in the eye and said, “Your Mom understands everything. You just need to talk to her.”

Talk to her? I thought. I already know what she’s thinking! She doesn’t want anybody caring for her – that’s for sure.

Before my mom fully lost her ability read, write, speak and walk, they would go on long walks alongside the Hudson River. Yvette would take Mom to get a haircut and they would go shopping to buy fresh fruits and vegetables that would find their way into Yvette’s spicy and zesty home cooked dishes.

It was hard to not fall in love with this woman who had a robust laugh, enjoyed preparing foods and kept an engaging conversation going.

One day, Yvette fished through an old shoebox of Mom’s recital and concert tapes back in the days when Mom was in her prime piano playing years. In that shoebox was a tape when Mom played Argentinian tangoes at Carnegie Hall in New York City back in 1960’s. I had never heard that tape before.

She popped one of them into the cassette player.

As I suspected, she sat in her hospital bed and looked at the ceiling, but I could see her eyes moving.

“She knows what’s going on,” Yvette had said. “She understands everything. You just got to talk to her! You just have to play these tapes for her!” She held up the shoebox.

I got up and approached the bed. Mom turned her head and tried to open her mouth as if to say something. Eventually, her eyes found their way to mine. At that point, she could barely speak except to say an emphatic, “yes!” Our second long gazes were enough confirmation I needed to know I still had my mom.

One day, I tried to get her to talk. I was desperate to feel and know in my heart, she was still my mom.

I made my way over the bedrails and tried to get comfortable in her twin bed just like the good old days when she would climb into my loft bed, sleep alongside me and hold my hand telling me that everything would be alright.

“Momma?” I asked.

“Momma, can you hear me? Hey, Momma, what do you think of the city – New York City? Are the cops coming?” (This began as our small joke we started back in the early stages of her Alzheimer’s.)

She made a very slight head turn indicating she understood. I felt reassured knowing I had reconnected with my mom.


“You see?” Yvette cried out emphatically. “She understands everything!”

By and by, Yvette taught the weekend caregivers ways to work with the disease. When my Mom’s physical needs became progressively more acute, Yvette became even more resilient finding ways to support my mom by strapping her in a harness and started lifting her from the bed to the wheelchair.

The summer before Mom passed, I asked my seven year old son to play a piece on the clunky old upright piano which replaced her 1932 grand Steinway. The notes startled her. She grunted and groaned and squirmed in her elevated bed.

As soon as my son stopped playing, I shouted, “Continue! She needs to hear the music!” I even startled myself.

“Okay, okay mom. Relax,” he said.

After a few more measures, he stopped, looked at me and said, “But Grandma Carmen can’t talk,” my son said. “She can’t do anything!”

“That’s alright,” I slowly heard myself saying. “It’s the music she need to hear right now. That’s what keeps her brain alive.”

The notes he played during his practice run were sometimes wrong and the piano was so badly out of tune, but it didn’t matter. 

Mom squirmed a bit more, but it seemed she was listening. She gently moved her thumbs. In the darkness of my room one night, far far away from Mom, I sobbed uncontrollably. I wanted mom back. I wanted to twirl in front of the mirror and tell Mom, “Play Chopin! Mazurkas #45!”

There was absolutely nothing I could do to get my mom back. All I could do was play her music on those intermittent visits and trust in the fact that she received a high level of phenomenal care, more than she would ever receive at a nursing home. I deeply tried hard to believe that it was the music we had played for her all those years that kept her brain alive.

It is because of Angel Yvette, our Mom was able to live a few good years more. And I know she will be employed by another family who will love her just as much as my brother and I did.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Dorit Sasson

Dorit Sasson writes and speaks for the voice of courage whether she's podcasting for "Giving Voice to Your Courage" or writing articles for The Huffington Post or The Writer. She also gives voice to the brand names of other authors and entrepreneurs. Her memoir, Accidental Soldier: A Memoir of Service and Sacrifice in the Israel Defense Forces, is the journey of courage and faith of how she volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces to change her life at age 19. Visit her at Giving Voice to Your Story: Find her memoir here:

6 Things You Can Do Now to Help Kids Remember Their Grandparents

In: Grief, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Grandfather dances with granddaughter in kitchen

A month ago, my mom unexpectedly passed away. She was a vibrant 62-year-old grandma to my 4-year-old son who regularly exercised and ate healthy. Sure, she had some health scares—breast cancer and two previous brain aneurysms that had been operated on successfully—but we never expected her to never come home after her second surgery on a brain aneurysm. It has been devastating, to say the least, and as I comb through pictures and videos, I have gathered some tips for other parents of young kids to do right now in case the unexpected happens, and you’re left scrambling to never...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Ready for Life Without My Mom

In: Grief, Loss
Woman sad sitting by a window looking out

I’m not ready. Not ready for time to just keep trudging forward without her. Four years have gone by, and I still think about her every day. When that awful third day of October rules around every year it’s like a tidal wave comes and sweeps me up tossing me this way and that. The rest of the year I can bob up and down with the occasional waves of grief. But the week before October 3rd the waves pick up, and I can’t see over the crest of one before the next is already upon me. I find myself...

Keep Reading

Since She Left

In: Grief, Loss
Older, color photo of mother and young daughter blowing out birthday candles

It’s been 14 years since she left. It’s like a lifetime ago and yesterday at the same time. The loss of my mother was indescribable. We never had a traditional relationship. As I grew older, our roles were very much reversed, but even still, missing one’s mother (for lack of a better word) is hard . . . plain and simple. Sometimes I wonder, what is it exactly that I miss? Of course, I miss talking to her. I miss how she drove me crazy. I miss her baking. I miss hearing about her newest needlepoint. I miss when she...

Keep Reading

I Carried You for Just 17 Weeks but I’ll Hold You in My Heart Forever

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Ultrasound image of baby in second trimester

September 11 will be a date that is forever etched in my heart, not only because of its historical significance but because it’s the day I saw your lifeless little body on the ultrasound screen. I couldn’t hold back the sobs. My chest suddenly felt heavier than a ton of bricks. I’ve been here before. I’ve had losses, but none this late. I didn’t feel their movements or hear so many strong heartbeats at my checkups. Your siblings felt you move and squealed with utter excitement. I want to wake from this nightmare, but it seems it’s my new reality....

Keep Reading

To the Woman Longing to Become a Mother

In: Faith, Grief, Motherhood
Woman looking at pregnancy test with hand on her head and sad expression

To the woman who is struggling with infertility. To the woman who is staring at another pregnancy test with your flashlight or holding it up in the light, praying so hard that there will be even the faintest line. To the woman whose period showed up right on time. To the woman who is just ready to quit. I don’t know the details of your story. I don’t know what doctors have told you. I don’t know how long you have been trying. I don’t know how many tears you have shed. I don’t know if you have lost a...

Keep Reading

I Was There to Walk My Mother to Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Hand holding older woman's hand

I prayed to see my momma die. Please don’t click away yet or judge me harshly after five seconds. I prayed to see, to experience, to be in the room, to be a part of every last millisecond of my momma’s final days, final hours, and final moments here on Earth. You see, as a wife of a military man, I have always lived away from my family. I have missed many birthdays, celebrations, dinners, and important things. But my heart couldn’t miss this important moment. I live 12 hours away from the room in the house where my momma...

Keep Reading

To the Loss Mom Whose Tears Keep Her Company Tonight

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Sad woman sitting up in bed with head in hands

Three pregnancies in one year. Three first trimesters. Three moments of celebration . . . until they turned to moments of sorrow. I’m sure every woman who experiences pregnancy loss has the thought, “I never thought this would happen to me.” I truly never thought this would happen to me. I have two healthy boys—conceived easily, uncomplicated pregnancies, by-the-book deliveries. We even thought we were done having kids . . . until the pregnancy test was positive. That’s when my heart opened up to more children, and I realized I ached to carry more life. Raise more littles. Nurse more babies....

Keep Reading

Cowgirls Don’t Cry Unless the Horse They Loved Is Gone

In: Grief, Kids, Loss
Little girls Toy Story Jessie costume, color photo

The knee of my pants is wet and dirty. My yellow ring lays by the sink—it’s been my favorite ring for months. I bought it to match Bigfoot’s halter and the sunflowers by his pasture. Bigfoot is my daughter’s pony, and I loved him the most. The afternoon is so sunny. His hooves make the same calming rhythm I’ve come to love as I walk him out back. A strong wind blows through the barn. A stall labeled “Bigfoot,” adorned with a sunflower, hangs open and I feel sick. I kneel down by his side as he munches the grass....

Keep Reading

Supporting the Grievers in the Aftermath of Suicide

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Two people walking down tunnel with arms around each other

She was a devoted mother of two boys with her husband of 26 years.  With him, she owned a metallurgy company, ran a household, and in her spare time, produced tons of crafts by hand, most of which she sold. When her younger son was diagnosed with autism, she read everything she could find on the subject, volunteered, advocated for the autism community, and developed programs for autistic children. She spoke at the National Autism Conference and was co-authoring a book to help parents navigate an autism diagnosis. We marveled at her energy and enthusiasm. She was at every family...

Keep Reading

My Dad Remarried after My Mom Died, and as a Daughter It’s Bittersweet

In: Grief, Grown Children, Loss
Older couple walking on beach holding hands

My dad ran off with a woman from California. When you put it like that, it sounds salacious and a faux pax, but the reality is a lot less interesting. My mom died of cancer at the cusp of my adulthood, leaving me and a gaggle of siblings behind. Six months later, my dad met a widow in California, connected with her, fell in love, and decided to move our family to California to be with her. Two years almost to the day after my mother died, my father married my stepmother. (I have photographic evidence of the event, I...

Keep Reading