my alzheimer’s mom counts


FiveFlashback July 29, 2014 (some of the links in this article are broken; apologies): Most five-year-olds can count to five and beyond. If you ask them how old they are, they’ll hold up one hand fingers splayed to show and tell you at the same time.

My 85-year-old Mom doesn’t know how old she is anymore. Sometimes she doesn’t remember how to use a fork or a spoon. But she surprises me every day with what she can do, and how resourceful and resilient she still is even in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

She inspires me with her strength, courage and determination. The sheer power of her will and the force of her personality are something to behold. We have struggled through this life together and apart and I see her (and myself) more clearly each day. I appreciate the time we have together now, heart wrenching though it may be.

In a post about unconditional love and friendship, I wrote:

More silence. The clock near the front door strikes the hour. Mom used to love counting the strikes silently in her head, then announcing the total aloud at the end.

“Seven!” She would have said a year ago. Not anymore. Not for months.

About a week and a half later, Mom and I sat quietly at my place, just being together in the same space. One of her beautiful antique clocks tick-tocked softly in the background. Here’s what happened when the clock chimed the hour:



I relearned for the umpteenth not to underestimate what goes on in my mother’s mind. She may communicate in a language that’s often hard for me to understand, she may be trapped in a body and a brain that don’t function anywhere near capacity, she may scare me to death when she knocks on heaven’s door, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t count. She does. We all do. It’s important to remember that.

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  1. I read your posts with trepidation. Fear to see what is coming down the road at me (and my mom). But you write with such love and hope that I leave your blog moved and open, even when worried about how this win all play out.

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