Friday, May 8, 2009

Missing Mama

I saw her tonight for the first time since Mama died. That was almost four years ago. I knew that seeing Mama's youngest sister was going to be hard. It was. Mama and Aunt Evelyn were both diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in the same month. I hate that disease. It steals memories. It wipes out life stories like they never even happened. It rips the personality right out of its victims. They're left sitting--heads slightly bowed--hands in lap. They struggle to join in conversation because they really don't remember the person who's talking to them. There's a slight sense of familiarity...but the reason for the love and the laughter are gone. Most of all, I hate Alzheimer's because it deceives. It deceived me. I thought that I had more time with Mama. I didn't know that the end was coming so soon. There were other complications--kidney problems, high blood pressure. I knew that she was sick. Somehow, it was like I thought that we still had all the time in the world. So I waited. I had plenty of opportunities. I was with her often, either at my house or at hers. I helped her bathe. Styled her hair. Made sure she took her medicine right. But I never told her what she deserved to hear. Why was I so stupid? So selfish? Why couldn't I bring myself to say those words. Such a simple thing. I thought about saying them. Then I would talk myself out of it. No hurry. No reason to rush. I waited too long. She lay on that hospital bed in her tiny bedroom in the house that she had lived in for forty years, and I told her then. But it was too late; she couldn't understand. So, I'm going to say what I should have told her a million times before. I know that saying this now doesn't erase my shame. But I've been thinking about her today and missing her so much. I want to try to honor her for the way that she lived and loved and forgave. Here goes. "Mama, you're the most wonderful mother in the whole world! I love you." Love, Deb

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