Mom is leaving …

A single point has guided me throughout my life. A single voice in my head that has kept me on the straight and narrow through times when I couldn’t see two feet in front of me, much less what’s around the bend.

My mom.

She has been the strongest influence on my life, though most times I chafe at admitting it. Her strength of character and determination have seen her through many, many difficult trials — from the loss of an infant daughter to a shattered marriage some fifteen years later. Yet, she remained strong. She never gave up, no matter how difficult the challenge or risky the outcome.

She is my rock.

My mom has Alzheimer’s and is leaving us, slowly, day by day. She’s in the early to mid stage so still knows who we are but, sooner or later, she won’t and I think it will break my heart. So much so that, in moments of weakness, I wish one of us would be released from this crazy world, and it doesn’t matter which one. I know that sounds awful, but the thought of Mom becoming lost to me makes me sad beyond having words to describe it — and angry, very angry.

Throughout her 83 years, she has relied only on herself to see her and her children over life’s hurdles. She is the only person I have ever known who will always tell me when I’m wrong or making a mistake. Her love, though quiet and somewhat reserved, is always there, for now. When she is lost to me, it will be lost to me as well.

Over the years, Mom and I have often not “gotten along.” I guess it’s because we are so much alike that it causes friction. I’m as stubborn as she is and as determined to make my own way in this screwed up world. We don’t talk a lot and seem to find it difficult to chat. Small talk isn’t part of our pattern — Scrabble is our thing. We can get into deep conversations over a Scrabble board and I’ve learned more about my mom while playing Scrabble than I ever dreamed possible. I cherish every game we play.

Mom lives with my sister and for that I am truly grateful. I don’t know how she does it, day in and day out, watching Mom fade away. I just know I couldn’t. It’s hard enough to see just when I visit.

Thank you, Jan — for all that you do to keep our mom safe. For taking care of her every need. For being her rock. I hope that someday, though I’m not sure how, I’ll be able to return the favor.