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My mother-in-law has Alzheimer's.  Alzheimer’s is a disease that destroys brain cells, causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior severe enough to affect work, lifelong hobbies or social life. Alzheimer's gets worse over time, and it is fatal. Today it is the seventh-leading cause of death in the United States.      

I understand there are different stages but I don't know what stage my mother-in-law is in.  At 88-years-old, she can still get around although it's obvious she is getting weaker.  She's had several falls at the Assisted Living Facility but is too stubborn to use the walker provided.

Despite the fact that Nate (her son and my husband) and I visit her regularly, I don't believe she has any idea who we are.  We are friendly faces that come to visit her.  We laugh with her and listen intently as she tells some of the same stories over and over and over again.  Her short term memory is shot but she can vividly describe things from her childhood.  

Today as we sat in the dining area, I kept looking at my husband and, somehow, felt his pain. Across from him sat the mother who raised him. But in many ways she was a complete stranger.  Yes, she was the mother he remembers working as a nurse, while maintaining the household.  She could bake the "best" biscuits and was meticulous about a clean house.  She was also a mother with a kind heart and spirit.  She was also the mother who uprooted her children from an alcoholic, philandering husband and moved them to a different location for a better life.  He owes her everything for her commitment to his upbringing.    

Even though he puts up a good front, I know it can't be easy to watch his mother in this state of mind.  But she is still his mother and it's obvious how much he loves her and has vowed to take care of her—- even if her other children refuse to help out.

Every day becomes precious when you're affected by someone with Alzheimer's.  Even though this is a Mother's Day my mother-in-law won't remember, it's a day her son will never forget.


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Kendal wrote May 11, 2008
    • I can imagine that this was very difficult for your husband.

      The idea that Alzheimer’s can make someone completely unaware of the people and the surroundings in which they are is very sad.

      You should reassure your husband that his mother does love him deep inside, especially for all that she has gone through in his life to make him happy.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Amy L. Harden wrote May 12, 2008
    • Bev:

      What a touching story! My heart broke for you, your husband and his mother...watching a loved one become imprisoned or held hostage by dementia, stroke or Alzheimer’s is so very difficult, tears at your is a helpless and sometimes hopeless situation...but there are blessings too.  

      Recently, I lost my own mother to dementia and years of mini-strokes that finally on April 20th released her from the prison she had been held for over six years.  The last time I saw her at the beginning of April, she didn’t know who I or my siblings were; she was very angry and frustrated with her state.  My last visit at the nursing home she laid with her back to me, turning every once and awhile with an angry face and then turning away from me again.  I had brought her flowers and a Bible that the nurses or my sister could read to her. The flowers, she didn’t even notice..the Bible she threw to the end of bed in anger....she slapped at me as I leaned down to give her my last kiss good-bye.  It was not a good visit, especially since I knew I would probably never see her alive again.  As I walked out of the room, God took hold of my heart and placed a memory there that I will never forget...two years earlier when the dementia and strokes had not totally taken her away from us...I came to visit.  I had not seen her for over a year.  I came into her room fully expecting that she wouldn’t know who I was...but when she saw me...her face lit up...her eyes began to sparkle and she broke out into the biggest smile my sister had seen in a long time.  She exclaimed: “Amy, Amy, IS it really you?...It is YOU! My dear sweet’ve come to see me!”  We sat for over an hour together trying to catch up...but mostly we held each others hand...she smiled and looked upon me with only the complete, utter love and joy that a mother can give her child.  In those moments, I knew without a doubt that despite all the trouble or squabbles, hurt and pain we had inflicted on each other in the past...this woman DID love me...and I loved her uncondtionally too!  I considered this visit one of the last gifts that my mother gave me and the blessing that God brought back to me the day I walked out of her hospital room for the last time.

      As difficult as this visit was for you, your husband and your MIL...God will place powerful memories of this woman in both of your hearts and minds...she has left a legacy...even though she is unable to truly work at it today due to the Alzheimer’s...remember this strong woman is still fighting the good fight. She loves her son and you more than you will ever need to let God tell you or remind you of this now.  

      No matter what anyone is difficult and sad.

      Thank you for sharing your story.  I will be praying for you and your family...especially your husband and mother-in-law. God Bless!

      Numbers 6: 24-26

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