Living With Alz Series: World Alzheimer’s Day

I know she doesn’t understand, but give her my love and support.

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day. When I was a kid, I didn’t think that this would be a day that I would know, or recognise. Then again, the world works in mysterious ways, and here I am today.

Mum is doing good. My dad goes to visit her every other day, and I try to get out to see her at least twice a week. Sometimes it’s just once, as the world works as it does, but it’s so nice when I get to see her. We went up yesterday, as I was gone for three days, and the look on her face when I sat down beside her was everything. She lit up like a Christmas tree.

I think her eye sight isn’t the best – although we’ve known that for a while. Sometimes I have to get right up in her face for her to register that I’m there. It’s also because she has her eyes on everything else. She gets distracted so easily. Whether it be by the cutlery on the table, or someone is walking by, she is still the mom I used to know who was so nosy. Mum used to always like to know everything that was going on in our townhouse complex. She was a stay at home mom for most of my life, give or take some time periods where she worked, but just being around the house all the time – I’m sure I’d be nosy too. Hell, sometimes I am.

Someone once said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” I replied, “I wasn’t given a choice.”

I was outside today, feeling the weather to decide what to dress in, when my neighbour came out of his house. We have had the same neighbours my whole life (minus the two years from my birth til two years old when we lived elsewhere) and they’ve been the best neighbours we could ever ask for. As my neighbour started to get in his car, he stopped, and looked over the top of his car at me.

“How’s mom doing?” He asked, and I smiled at the question. “She’s doing well, thank you.”

“I know she doesn’t understand,” He started to say, “But give her my love and support.”

That, right there, was a moment I’ll hold onto. Because they get it. Despite her memory, despite her lack of communication, it’s the thought that counts – because inside, she’s still mom. Even if she can’t tell you.

I think that’s been the hardest part of everything. I don’t say this to be mean, or rude, or anything along those lines – but it’s funny how things change when someone gets sick. The people you see the less of. Or hear the less from. People that used to be so significant in your life, and now you can’t pinpoint the last day you saw them. Heard from them.

It can be a simple question that changes everything for me.

“How’s mom doing?”

It’s a simple question, but the warmth and the feeling behind it – it envelopes me.

And today, of all days, that rings so clear. Today, of all days, for my neighbour to stop and ask that question? It warms me. It’s been surprising, some of the people that have stepped out of the shadows to ask that question. Sometimes from the least suspecting person. A friend’s mom. An old co-worker. An old friend.

What the heart has once known, it shall never forget.

For those of you that want to know, but might be too afraid to ask (for what reason, I am unsure), mum is doing well. As well as well can be, of course. But I see her smile. I hold her hand. I help with her lunch. I hang out with her, and I take her for walks. We sit outside, and we enjoy the fresh air. I tell her about my day, my week, my life. I show her photos on my phone. We decorate her room and make her feel like this is home, even if it’s not. She’s doing well. As well can be.

On this day, World Alzheimer’s Day, I ask you to do a little research. Don’t be like me, and find out years later that this is a day you need to recognise. Ask questions. Spread awareness. Help end this terrible, life changing disease. We can’t do it alone.

One Comment

  • Linda Graham

    Samantha, I think of you often. Alzheimer’s has touched my life as well (my dad). Keri was always such a happy person when she helped out at the school. We had so many shuckles especially newsletter day. I have no doubt your mom smiles. A happy soal lives in her mind. Thinking of you and your dad. You are both doing an amazing job

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