Most people have at least one "dark day". A date that a tragic event happened and the situations surrounding that event is forever stuck in your mind. Today is my dark day because two years ago today, my mother died.
|My mother, Diana, age 19|
|Mom and me, 1984|
People who know me well know that my mother and I always had a pretty strained relationship. And people who know me well know that I usually do not want to discuss the subject. If I am questioned about her, I usually bring up the warm and fuzzy feelings and stay far away from any talk about her death or hard times. On the anniversary of her death, I realize that not only is it good to remember the good times but to express bad feelings. Instead of holding them in, talking about it is better for your mental health than people think. I do not plan on going in to details but express some feelings and situations surrounding our lives together and that day, two years ago.
She had been sick for a long time. Most of my life she showed signs of her illness. I think this is the main reason for our lack of a real relationship. We definitely did not have the typical "mother-daughter relationship" that most of my friends had. I was often teased by my peers because of the way she acted and how her and I interacted. The strange things is that even though we had a tough relationship, we were still close. My mother made me grow up as more of her friend than a daughter. She longed for friendships from others and I was the one to whom she clung to fill that void. In turn, we were close but not the relationship as I had always longed for. When I started to find my own friendships with my own age group, that's when things got tough between us. About that time, her illness started to take over as well. Needless to say, the correlation between my independence and her illness filled me with guilt for quite a long time.
|Mom, me and John 1984|
It took a long time for the doctors to put a name to her symptoms, other than the known diabetes. Around the age of 50, we were told my mother had Dementia from Alzheimer's and a few years later she was diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease of the brain, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). Both had the doctors confused since she was so young. Of course, our family took it hard and each of us dealt with it in our own ways. As for myself, I was afraid, depressed, and more than anything, mad! Not at God because I do understand that illness happens to every kind of person and it not truly not God's doing. At first, I was angry at my mom.. "Why can't she control her short temper? Why does she not remember the things I just told her? Why does she keep wondering off and forgetting how to get back home? Why doesn't she want to take care of herself better?" And so on, and so on. That anger is ridiculous to think about, now looking back. It was not my mother's fault, it was the diseases. When I realized this, I was mad at myself. I had a hard time staying patient around my mother and that would make me mad or guilty. I tried to go visit her and stay calm with the symptoms but most of the time I would leave in tears due to anger or depression. It just wasn't fair, not only to her but to all of us. Sometimes, I don't know who the disease is worse on, the patient or the loved ones. Both are helpless. She was in tremendous amounts of pain but usually forgot why and couldn't feel apathy for us. We did not experience the symptoms first hand but we were left to deal with seeing her crumble away, forget about us, and deal with the mix of emotions it caused for us.
|Mom, dad, me and John around 1989.|
I can recall almost every minute of the days surrounding her passing but I won't tell them at this time. I will just say that after hearing from my dad that my mother's health turned for the worst, both my small family and my brother's headed home. My brother arrived to our hometown from one of his tours to Iraq just in the nick of time. All four of us were finally back together, just as I knew my mother longed for. She was able to see the love of her life and her babies once more and I think she finally felt peace. Honestly, I think we all finally felt peace. I think that was just what she needed to let go. She fought so long and hard to keep going on but her body couldn't take the agony anymore. Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've had to do so far but the fact that she was out of pain helped. (As well as the overwhelming amount of love and support from family and friends.)
|Dad, John, me and mom at John's high school graduation, 1998|
Now, two years later, I take time to remember the grief as well the warm and fuzzies.... Today I wear purple, her favorite color. I think of her love of rainbows, butterflies, and lighthouses. I see her dressed as a clown in my my head. Think about how obsessed she was of Davy Jones and had his name on her guitar. Remember the drawing she made of her brother Bob playing his guitar. How she taught me how to knit and I still enjoy it to this day. How much she loved to write poems, stories, anything. (I wonder where I get my writing from :) That pen she always had around her neck so she could jot down whatever was floating around in her head. How my daughters have so much of their grandma in them (and Elora has her name). But mainly I remember that, even though it was tough for her to show it at times, she loved my dad, brother, and I more than any thing else in this world!
I love you, mom!
I love you, mom!
PS: If you are a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, you are not alone. Help and support are here for you.