Follow us, as Elizabeth Murray tells the moving story of her mother’s battle with dementia. In this blog series, Murray explores every part of the experience of caring for someone with dementia, sharing her memories and insights from it all. Her words serve as a great reminder of the many ways dementia affects our lives, and the lives of our loved ones.”
When my son, Davis, was young he used to say that he loved Mommy best, Grandma second and Daddy third. My mother returned his feelings tenfold.
Her devotion to him only increased as he grew from an infant to a toddler to a boy. Her house was transformed into Davis’ second home, complete with his own room, toys, books and clothes. She was constantly thinking up new activities for them to enjoy together – a large cardboard box was turned into their clubhouse and the basement rec room became an imaginary hockey rink.
After Davis started school, my mother attended hockey games, music lessons, choir recitals, and even some parent-teacher interviews. No matter how wonderful he was through the rose-coloured glasses of his parents, Davis was even more wonderful through my mother’s ruby-tinted lenses.
When Davis was in Grade 3, my mother forgot to attend Grandparents Day at his school – an event that they had both long anticipated. Davis was heartbroken, but my mother was contrite and he readily forgave her. The incident should have raised a large red flag but I chose to ignore the possibility of a larger issue.
Two years later, my mother was diagnosed with dementia.
As her disease progressed, she refused to come to Davis’ activities. She declined my invitations to visit my son at our house, as well as my offers to bring him to hers. Davis didn’t see my mother for months at a time and he missed her terribly.
“Why are you fighting with Grandma?” he often asked, thinking that their lack of contact might have had something to do with me.
In retrospect, I didn’t properly educate Davis about dementia or its symptoms. I tried to protect him from my mother’s drastic changes in behavior, but in doing so, I didn’t equip him to understand the progression of her disease.
Dementia affects families – not just the person who is diagnosed with the disease. It is important that children and young adults be informed so they can better understand what is happening to their loved one. With the help of your local Alzheimer Society you can find the resources you need.
Contact a local Alzheimer Society near you to learn more.
Retired lawyer and the author of Holding on to Mamie: My Mother, Dementia and Me.
For more information about Elizabeth and her story visit www.holdingontomamie.ca.