Today is my mom’s 82nd birthday! She has dementia! I have been wondering how is it possible to erase ones mind?
I believe that the fear, guilt, shame, grief and lies experienced on the journey of life begins slowly to erase that which is too painful to endure. Death which many fear simply because of the loss of a loved one’s touch, the grief of never seeing them or just the emptiness that comes with their physical body disappearing from our sight creates an ache that is inconsolable.
In my mom’s life experience as one of nine children growing up, at a very young age she was witness to death and grief as her siblings died one by one. Her mother wore her grief for everyone to see by wearing black clothes for her entire life, empty now and filled with pain because she was in mourning for her children. Laughter was not allowed because there was sorrow to endure. The ache that grew in my grandmothers heart would detach her from the living. Truly we are taught many lessons from one another as I have been able to learn.
My mom was taught well by her mom and never deviated from the lessons. Fear was her greatest class and she feared life to an extreme that devoured her own existence. First the incomprehension of a husband that was alcoholic and manic-depressant which terrified her and whom she finally ran away from, then her son and first born dying unexpectedly at 38 years of age by a drunk driver, her first grandson being murdered at the age of 23 and then her healthy husband dying of colon cancer 8 years ago. Today, I thank God that she has found a path of her own to continue to live without her fears. She is childlike now as she is cared for and plays dominoes daily! Clueless to who she is, where she is or what she has lived through.
Yesterday, though I was emotionally angry and feeling abandoned by her. I felt deep disappointment that she does not know me, my four children or my four grandchildren. She has missed so much and we have missed so much of her wisdom. I have dug deep within to make sense of this world she now lives in and delighted in the memories of moments from the past. I had laughed, cried, shopped, and walking holding hands with her. I had listened to her childhood stories over and over again, as well as the nightmares she carried from those years married to my father. I had journeyed with a woman I called mom and whom I loved unconditionally and still do. I am grateful to her and all I have learned from her.
Yes, I would love to share with her my becoming a grandmother but when I think back on my own childhood I never knew my grandparents but yet I know of them through her own stories. Mom, I promise you that I shall share your stories, your fears, your innocence with your grandchildren and great grandchildren.
We are all here to love one another no matter what we assume another has done to us in any way or that which has created any form of pain. However, we all have free will to choose how we want to live and who we want to be. I choose to forgive, forget that which cannot be changed and love my mom as she was and how she is today.