Alzheimer’s is a cruel disease. It takes folks to lunch and then robs them blind—of the memory of what they just ate. It takes them to a movie and then leaves them cold—sitting and wondering what the heck they just spent two hours watching. And even worse, it makes their own children seem like vague, distant relatives.

My sweet mama is one of the five million people in the US suffering from this awful, awful disease.

It has been difficult to watch my mom go from the bubbly, talkative, social, outgoing person she was (when I was growing up), to a mere shadow of her former self at times. Sometimes, she is unable to form words or sentences. Sometimes, she sleeps for an entire day. Most times, she recognizes her children and husband of 63 years, but is unable to call them by name.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, it takes a lot from a person. But, the one thing it absolutely cannot grab hold of is the way that person feels about people and the way that others make them feel. You see, regardless of whether my mama knows my name on any given day, she knows I am someone she loves and someone who loves her back. The look in her gorgeous blue eyes and the smile on her perfect face when I walk in her room, tell me everything I need to know.

Some days she greets me with “Oh, I’m so happy to see you,” “I’m so glad you are here,” or “I thought you would never get here.” It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know my name. She knows I am someone she loves and enjoys seeing. Recently, I showed her a photo of seven-year old me (because people with Alzheimer’s often remember things from long ago) and she said, without hesitation, “That’s my baby girl.”

Sometimes when I sit with my mama, there is simply no need for words. She holds my hand in hers and runs her thumb along the edge of my hand. Just like she did when I was little and needed consoling. Often, she will tuck my hair behind my ear as we sit in silence. Just like she did for seven-year old me. It’s moments like these that assure me my mom is still here.

Alzheimer’s may have stolen her memory of how to speak, her ability to perform daily activities or her physical strength to walk but, it will not take away my mama’s heart. And, quite honestly, that’s the part of her I want most.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou


Originally published on the author’s blog

Margie Untermeyer

I am a 52-year-old mom of two, living with MS for nearly 20 years. I try to focus on the positive and finding beauty in the everyday. I believe life should be celebrated!