Writing about my mom is going to be tough for me. I love her so much. She has been such a good mom to me and my brother. She has always been so attentive to me, my brother and our friends. Everyone loves my little momma. My kids call her Abue. Abue is short for Abuelita – “little grandmother” in Spanish. She is born and raised in Mexico City into a wonderful, cohesive, and enormous family. Last year, she was getting ready to turn 69 years old, and she was really sad and depressed. She said she felt as though all the good stuff in her life has already happened to her. She felt she had nothing to look forward to. This of course made me so sad to hear. At this point, she had been having health issues of various assortments for about 20 years. Her most grave had been a brain aneurism. She had surgery to deal with it prior to it erupting. This brain surgery fixed that particular situation and she recovered nicely. She opted to have a gamma knife surgery several years later to deal with and terminate central nerve tremors that she regularly experienced since she was a young girl. This surgery eventually caused her significant problems that have led to long term problems. Since that surgery in 2006, she has had several mini strokes, trouble with movement on the right side of her body, difficulty lifting her right foot, many falls, and some short term memory loss. She know experiences serious short term memory loss issues and life has definitely become more tedious for her.
Over the last several years, she has gotten more forgetful, absentminded, and many things have become much more difficult for her. She began severing relationships that she has had for years, with family and friends. She became angry and agitated much more generally. She became extremely impulsive. Many times she wouldn’t recognize the direct consequences of an action, or wouldn’t understand the significance of the consequence. Many times it would seem unfair to her and there was this “I am a victim” status that she would claim.
After a series of tests on several occasions, through blood work baselines, brain MRI’s, and a series of neuropsychological testing, the doctors determined that she had dementia, not otherwise specified. I was with she and my father when the diagnosis was handed down. That was one of the saddest days of my life. I have never seen my father so distraught. He cried and cried. Whaled even. You could see he was watching a reel in his head replaying the last 45 years together. Remembering the good times and the bad times. He had a kindness and softness in his eyes in which I have never seen. My dad is a great guy, but these are not two of his general attributes. My mother seemed completely unaware of the diagnosis they just handed her. She was suddenly like a small child waiting for the instruction of an adult authority figure. She didn’t seem to understand at that moment the sentence that she was just condemned with. It was one of the saddest moments I have ever witnessed.
That all happened last November, the week of Thanksgiving.
Getting back to my original story. On her 69th birthday in June of last year she was sad, depressed. I told her she had a lot to look forward to. She was becoming a bit despondent. I told her on her 69th birthday that for her 70th birthday, I would take her anywhere in the world that she wanted to go…anywhere. We began planning as of that moment and it gave her hope, and something to look forward to. She changed her mind a dozen times re: locations. Mexico, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Prague, a Viking River Cruise, etc, etc. We finally decided to take a faith based tour through Lisbon, Portugal, Spain, and France. We are touring the European shrines…Our Lady of Lourdes, Our lady of Fatima, Santiago de Compostela, Sacred Family, The Black Madonna, and all along the way, masses, novenas, and rosaries. (My mother wanted to be a roman catholic nun prior to meeting my dad 🙂 -I forgot to tell you that part!)
She just turned 70 this month and I am so grateful she is still here. She is very forgetful, but knows who we all are. She adores me, and my kids, and a little geriatric, blind dog back home – Fluffy. She loves my dad too in a very Edith and Archie Bunker kind of way…My dad is very much the Archie in this scenario also. I have a brother also, and she loves him very much also, but unfortunately my brother chooses not to have a lot of interaction with my parents or myself at this time. Hopefully that will change over time for my mom’s sake, she misses him.
We leave tomorrow, June 15 on our Faith Based journey – to say thank you to our Lady of Lourdes, and to ask for a few miracles (I don’t know what they are). I am grateful to be embarking on this trip tomorrow with my momma. I will let you know how it goes!